You’ve ridden multiple days a week for years, and you’ve become pretty strong—you can hold your pace and fly up hills with no problem. But maybe you’ve noticed that your upper body isn’t as strong as you’d like it to be. Enter: the push-up.
Push-ups work your chest, triceps, and shoulders—all important muscles for holding your position on the bike. But push-ups can be tough even for the fittest among us if you’re not used to doing them regularly.
“Women should be able to do at least 10 push-ups, and men should be able to do about 15 to 20,” says Tony Gentilcore, C.S.C.S., owner of the Boston-based training studio CORE.
“Specificity is key,” Gentilcore says. Translation? If you want to get better at push-ups, you need to actually do push-ups.
So with help from Gentilcore, we created a 30-day push-up challenge to help you build that ever-important upper-body strength. (We know it’s warm out and you’d rather spend your time outdoors on the bike rather than indoors strength training, but trust us, you really will see cycling improvements!)
With this plan, “the amount of push-ups you can do will go up because you’re doing high-volume, high-quality reps in short spurts,” he says. And even if you can do more than Gentilcore’s suggested base number of push-ups, getting stronger and being able to do more definitely won’t hurt your performance on the bike.
How to do this challenge: Review the exercises below, demonstrated by Amanda Butler, NASM-certified trainer for Aaptiv and creator of The Butler Method on NeoU Fitness. Perform Workout 1 on day one, Workout 2 on day two, Workout 3 on day three, so on and so forth. Once you finish Workout 5 on day five, start back at the beginning. Cycle through Workouts 1 through 5 every day for 30 days straight. Swipe the arrow to the left to see the second exercise in each workout.
Each workout includes two exercises: a set of push-ups performed two to three times per day and one complimentary move that will help build strength needed to achieve more push-ups.
Here’s how to figure out how many push-ups you should do in a set: Take the maximum amount of push-ups you can do comfortably in one try and cut that number in half. For example, if you can bang out 10 easily, perform 5 push-ups two to three times per day. That’s 15 push-ups per day, more than you were able to do before, but since you’re not doing them all at once, it won’t seem as hard.
The five workouts are below. You will need a set of light to medium dumbbells and a bench or elevated platform. An exercise mat is optional. As always, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program and stop at any point if something feels off.
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