X push-ups a day keeps the doctor away?
April 22, 2006 4:28 AM   Subscribe

Would this work for getting fit?

This question refers to the latter half of blue grama's answer, talking about incremental push-ups over several weeks. Not to cast doubt on blue grama's personal experience, but it just sounds too good to be truly effective.

Would it work for sit-ups, pull-ups, back muscles, legs etc.?

I am rather un-fit and this sounds like a great way to slowly build a bit of muscle...
posted by slimepuppy to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
i cant comment on whether that will work. but i have used HST to increase my muscle mass greatly.

due to its incremental nature it starts off easy and gets harder as you progress.

with the right diet you are supposed to be able to achieve huge muscle mass gains. in an 8 week period ive managed to gain around 12lbs in lean muscle mass which is a great achievement for me.

HST info

sorry i didn't answer your question directly though!
posted by moochoo at 5:07 AM on April 22, 2006

Why wouldn't it work? Just do all your house exercises one day, then make sure the next day you do just as many if not more reps. Pushing yourself to your limit is always a good thing.

The question I pose is, why not just join a gym? Either you should revel in your sedentary lifestyle, or you should get serious and head to the gym every other day or so. Sitting on the fence, in my opinion, is the only waste of time.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 5:39 AM on April 22, 2006

The exercise program in The Hacker's Diet is similiar.

Getting 'serious', joining a gym and being very gungho about getting fit is what burns many people out when they're just starting to exercise. I don't see how doing bodyweight exercises could be considered sitting on the fence.
posted by stavrogin at 6:13 AM on April 22, 2006

Traditional weight lifting programs predict that, after increasing your strength for weeks or months, you will eventually reach a limit and plateau. At that point, you go back to lifting a bit more than you started with, and start another gradual cycle of gains up to a higher plateau. This is called periodization. Endurance training programs also incorporate this.

(Technically my push-up regime is increasing my muscular endurance rather than strength per se.)

I have tried a very gradually increasing weight lifting program (0.5kg per week), but I could never keep going to the gym regularly for more than a few months. Partly because I don't find it very exciting. So I've never seen large permanent increases in strength with this technique. I decided to experiment with push-ups because I could do them anywhere, so it's easy to keep it up. I assume that at some point I will plateau. (Who knows, it's only week 16.) If I do, I'll come back and update this thread. :-)

On preview: going from no exercise to low levels of exercise provides the greatest marginal health benefits, compared to increasing from low to moderate or moderate to high. Although there are additional gains to be had from going to the gym every other day, it's certainly worthwhile to do less exercise than that. I think the important thing is to do an amount of exercise that you can keep up forever. That may require switching activities periodically, or doing multiple activities, or best of all, doing something you enjoy.
posted by blue grama at 6:26 AM on April 22, 2006

Grr, the Hacker's Diet. I wouldn't go to a doctor or fitness instructor for computer advice, and I wouldn't trust that guy for nutrition or fitness advice either.

The exercise program in The Hacker's Diet is the old (1960s) Canadian Armed Forces 5BX program. There's been a lot learned in the fitness world since the 1960s. 5BX will get you in shape, but it won't necessarily get you there fastest or safest. (To tell how out of touch 5BX is it's really necessary to see the XBX plan, which is the 10-exercise women's fitness plan based on the principle that women couldn't handle 5BX.) 5BX assumed that at the same time as the daily 10-minute workout (!) you were also doing the rest of basic training. Without that, you've got... a 10-minute workout. That'll be about as effective as any other 10-minute workout, which is to say hardly at all unless you are extremely out of shape.

In short, the author of the Hacker's Diet might have found something that worked for him, but he's not in a position to know how much it could be improved on in efficiency, convenience and safety -- you can almost certainly find something that works better than 5BX for you.

My favorite "getting started in fitness" resource is written for women but is useful for both men and women, and it's Krista's Women's Weight Training. Lots of advice there on how to go from nothing to something, or something to more, either with very basic equipment at home or membership at a basic gym.
posted by mendel at 9:25 AM on April 22, 2006

(1960s) Canadian Armed Forces

Woops, that doesn't make any sense! I meant the Royal Canadian Air Force, of course. The book was still published after the individual areas merged, long after the program had been abandoned.
posted by mendel at 9:27 AM on April 22, 2006

Why would you want to "slowly build a bit" or muscle.? Aren't you selling yourself short? If someone wants to become wealthy, would they "slowly" make "a bit" of cash?

I can tell you doing only pull-ups is a great way of slowly building a bit of muscle, but if you'd like to really get in shape and become leaner, you'd need to do alot more:

-> Intense cardio for at least 20 minutes, three times a day
-> Resistance train with two exercises per muscle group, 3 sets of 10
-> Eat foods that work with your weigh loss goals, specifically low glycemic foods. Be conscious about fulfilling amino acid requirements so you are maximizing muscle acquisition.
-> Set some goals, measure how far and long you run and try to improve upon it. Lift a little heavier, do another set. Stop eating a little earlier in the day.

These are all things that I am doing in my own life to shave off some fat and pack on some more muscle. It works!
posted by rinkjustice at 3:07 PM on April 22, 2006

yeah well whatever, the hackers diet worked for me. 47 pounds. 6 months.
posted by joeblough at 8:02 PM on April 22, 2006

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