Martial Arts

Push-up challenge

One thing proving to be a HUGE challenge for me in class is full push-ups.

I’ve gotten through a few decades without full push-ups. I’ve got some embarrassing elementary school PE moments repressed somewhere that deal with this, I’m sure. And in all my years of Ashtanga yoga, I was never strong on the chaturanga — the yogic equivalent of a full push-up–and usually just lowered to the ground rather than holding the true pose.  David Swenson was never going to walk by my mat and say “that’s how you do it” as I moved through a Sun Salutation.  My push-ups have been a girlie knees-down style or with an incline, like my kitchen counters.

So here I am, middle age, and it’s my push-up do or die moment.  If I’m going to actually do this whole taekwondo thing, push-ups gotta happen.  On fists, no knees and count them in Korean.

I’m getting there, but it’s taking work. The name sounds so easy, right? Just push yourself up.  The first three weeks of the Push-Up Challenge have been on an incline, my bed frame (about two feet high) or a step.  Everyone loves to use steps as an example but when I try to get low (you’re supposed to be one fist height off the ground) then I’m smacking my head on the next step up.  I’m not sure how no one else is having that problem, but no one else has mentioned it or shown up with a mysterious forehead bruise.

I now have these fun little callouses on my hands, along my knuckles, from practicing push-ups on my fists.  Awkward at first, I’m finding I do like them better than palms-down push-ups because there is no wrist weakness factoring in, and hey.  If I keep this up, I can break a board one day.

Another problem area for my full push-up is my backside.  My bum,  booty, derriere, tuchus. To personalize our push-up challenge, Mr. Ninja saw each of us do a full push-up.  Or in my case, attempt a push-up and get stuck on the floor trying to push myself back up.  And in my top plank position, my backside was causing some issues.

I am blessed with a little more booty than most people in class (read: all of class) so Mr. Ninja told me “no, lower and flatten your back” to be in alignment.  I could feel that alignment with my butt lower put my lumbar into an uncomfortable mis-alignment.  Well, he’s a black belt so I’m not going to argue, but if yoga therapy training and pilates reformer classes have taught me anything, it’s what my spine feels like when it’s aligned.  And that wasn’t it.  How do you break it to Ninjas that you ARE indeed in aligment and your bum is just big, and because uniforms don’t distinguish my waist from my boo-tay, it looks like I’m not aligned? (Thanks to my grandmother for passing that one down. I couldn’t have gotten some natural curl instead?)

I’ll end with a fun thing to think about: you are lifting about 42% of your body weight, according to the article below.



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