Monday, April 5, 2010

The One Arm Push Up Quest - Longitudinal Trial (aka if we can do it, anyone can)

We often see evidence of success - the end of a journey - either celebrated in books that recount the experience, or increasingly on youtube videos that show that brief "ta da" That's certainly safe. But what if more of us were to lay out a mission and put our progress out there? We see this model with weight loss a lot: or at least we often think we do. I've posted before images of what real weight loss by real people looks like. As opposed to potentially questionable progress (modelled here too).

But what if we had this kind of progress - the real kind - modelled in strength work?

Recently the Monk of the North and i were talking about our various efforts at various things that we practice, and have only come to be able to do by practicing one step at a time. We were talking about how it might be an interesting experiment to chart the progress of a move from start to finish over real time. The expression "watch me fall flat on my ass -again" was repeated more than once.

And why would either of us be interesting? Well neither of us may be, ain't that the truth? But we might be because we're not (we own this to each other) what anyone might look at and say "s/he's buff" - and yet we practice strength daily, and seem to achieve some of the ends by which we care to measure our progress. In other words, if we can do it, anyone can. Really.

Recent Surprise from Practice Practice Practice and Volume. My other motivation  is to put recent lessons about the role of volume for strength to work.  This past week for me for instance,  i achieved a weighted pistol and i can only put that down to the amount of volume work with tons of assisted pistols i'd been doing.

Candidates for Practice.  So i'm going to continue with this pistoling work to get to my 24kg pistol, but i'm already into that. As well, my current waterloo is the the 24kg kettlebell press, and again, i'm well into what is supposed to lead to crossing that particular divide (ha! i hear an inner voice saying. right. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain)

So there's a couple other things out there that would be pretty durn remarkable to me and would be just delightful to achieve, and would allow me to start from scratch, in a state that is not jaded as i am with that dam press.

One is a good one arm push up. The other is climbing a rope. Since i do not have a rope to climb at the present moment (and isn't that just a sad sad statement on our environments. If i tried to hang a rope between our floors in our lovely open area at work...well the words "health and safety aanalysts" (emphasis on first syllable) come to mind) and since i also do not know how to do assisted rope climbing work to develop a progression, i shall choose the one arm push up. Free of the travails of equipment rigging.

My plan: to test the Volume as Path to  develop technique for strength approach.
To begin i shall start as Pavel Tsatsouline suggests in the Naked Warrior treatise by one arm pushing what one can. For me right now, my form is good leaning against a wall and pushing away from it for volume. To check this out i did ten sets of five both sides the other day as recovery between assisted rock bottom pistol volume. I shall endeavor to get video of my boring-to-look-at but instructive-to-do volume work, and capture the non-state of my current one-arm push up attempt.

Let's see how long it takes a Gal with a Russian Man's Plan, Stan to get to a full one arm push up.
This is not a race; this is just a GTG thing i'm going to keep in my daily GTG world and see where it gets me, over what period of time. If no camera is to hand, i'll keep a record of attempts, too, and post "progress" such as it may be, from time to time.

What are We Testing:
The weighted pistol came on me rather by surprise: i did not expect so soon after doing a week or so of mixed high volume to get a weighted pistol. This time, my main curiousity is to more deliberately test if working high volume with emphasis on technique will lead to load.  So i'm not going to be doing much "heavy" day work beyond once a week to try a few lower box or surface reps. Focus is on form. Perfecting the tension/strength skill points to see if i can translate that to load later.

If any of you wish to join me in this particular challenge, let me know. We'll progress together.
The outline would be something like:
  • find a new(ish) move
  • agree to do daily types of different kinds of volume work with 
  • one session a week of what would be near current max loads where the move can still be done for singles
  • the reps in high volume are to be carried out mindFULly - attention to the form/technique in each in order to build up skill sets - this takes thousands of reps to become reflexive; at least hundreds just to get to self-corrective using a motor learning approach.
  • track no. of reps per day/week
  • see where progress occurs
  • only test the goal load once every couple weeks - promise.
keen to hear how you get on.


Clement said...

Hi mc, I've been enjoying your blog posts for quite some time now. I'm currently going through a challenge similar to yours and and pleased to say that I've recently mastered the unweighted pistol.

I was just wondering if you could outline the correct form of the one-armed pushup (or the variation that you aim to achieve: legs spread out as in the picture on your post or the convict conditioning, legs in, arm in tight to body method, etc) and the pistol. I find that I'm flexing my back a bit and have some queries as to whether my technique is right. Thank you very much!

dr. m.c. said...

Hi Clement,

thanks for your kind words. glad the blog is a good source for you.

THe naked warrior (link) is the best source i've found detailing the one arm push up. that will help tune your back(no flex) issue.

hope that helps.



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