I am training for upcoming tryouts for a sports team at my school. One of the requirements to pass the test includes doing 40 push-ups in 1 minute and these are full push-ups going all the way down to the ground and then back up to a full extension. Right now I’m able to do about 25 push-ups per minute and I have about 40 days to train before the tryouts. I really want to make the team, so any advice you can provide to help me build up my upper body strength would be great. Are there any exercises I can do to help increase the amount of push-ups I can do in a minute?
Doing 40 pushups in only 1 minute is pretty tough and I bet many young kids at your school would have a hard time doing just 10 pushups without running into issues. The fact that you can do 25 full pushups within a minute right now is a great sign, especially since you only have a little over a month to train before your tryouts. I think your goal of doing 40 full pushups is definitely reachable and it’s something you can attain with hard work and smart training. If you were in a position now of only being able to do 5-10 pushups, then it would be much more difficult to be able to increase your upper body strength to the level needed in that short amount of time.
You have several options for training to increase your overall strength and endurance for the push-ups exercise. One of the things you can focus on is strengthening your secondary muscles. The primary muscle group in the push-up consists of the pectoral muscles of the chest, and the secondary muscles are the deltoids (shoulders) and triceps (back of arm). Here are a few exercises to increase the strength of your deltoids and triceps which will hopefully build up your overall strength and help to increase the repetitions when doing push-ups.
Another thing you might also want to use is a spotter who can assist you when training for high rep push-ups. Have a friend stand over you while you perform the push-ups and once you start to fatigue, have them place their hands under your torso and gently pull up to raise your body all the way up to the top. Make sure to have them gently assist you up in order for you to really work hard and push yourself so you can get stronger. This will allow you to get in several more push-ups once you have reached positive muscle failure and you can overload your muscles with even more tension to help build up even more strength. This is a great training tool to use for high repetition sets. Try to complete all 40 pushups with your spotter assisting you in order to physically target your muscles. This will also help you mentally get in the mindset of being able to hit your goal each day which will build up your confidence.
Your push-up technique is very important and the position of your elbows is critical to providing overall strength for high reps. Push-ups are either performed with the elbows pointed out, which works more of the chest and shoulders, or with the elbows tucked into the sides which targets the triceps. Try both versions and see which one you like best. If most of your muscle mass and strength is in your chest and shoulders, then the outer elbow position will probably work best for you. However, if you have strong triceps then tucking them into your sides will benefit you more. Try doing as many pushups in a row as you can with your elbows out on one day and then on the next day try doing them with your elbows in. You will quickly learn which technique feels the best and works for you.
When you finally take your test on the day of the tryouts, smart planning for the event is very important in order to maximize every second and allow enough rest to make sure you complete the required 40 push-ups in 1 minute. You might want to do a set of 10 push-ups and then rest a few seconds to regain some strength before doing another 10 reps. Time is critical, so try to perform the push-ups as fast as possible and explode on every rep. This is not a time to go slow and work your muscles. Your goal is performance and endurance in order to reach your goal of doing 40 push-ups quickly so you can pass the test. About a week before the tryouts, have a friend take out a stop watch and time you while you perform the push-ups to see how fast you can do them and then analyze how long of a rest you can take after each set of 10 in order to have enough time to fit in all 40 reps within the allotted 60 seconds. I wish you best of luck and I know with hard training and smart planning you will be able to pass the test and make the team!