Monday, 21 February 2011

Push Ups are mental!

I've just completed week 3 of the push up challenge and I've decided that push ups are mental! By mental I mean psychological. By psychological I mean that your mind controls how many you can do - or appears to...

Take yesterdays effort for instance: The first set required me to do 11 push ups. I did this but could barely have pushed a 12th out. The second set required 13 push ups. I did this and easily pushed out the 12th but could not have pushed out 14. The third and fourth sets only required 9 push ups each. I could not have pushed out more than 9 for each - my arms were literally trembling! Then for the 5th set I had to push up until I maxed out but had to do a minimum of 13. I set the target at 18 because I had achieved 16 the last time and wanted to feel I was making progress. I did 18 easily but could not have pushed out a 19th!

What's going on? It's as if my mind tells my body what it is capable of doing for each set of push ups and enables me to access the required physical resources to achieve the task but no more. It definitely feels like a case of mind over matter. My husband has experienced the same phenomenon with his push up challenge.

Is this a working example of the unification of mind, spirit and body?

I decided to apply the principle to my training this morning. Instead of doing shadow sparring I set myself the task of going through all my punching combinations. We have 6 different combinations but the format is similar for each, consisting of : start in yoi, step into zenkutsu dachi with kamae, punch 1, punch 2, kamae, step back into yoi and then repeat on the other side. I decided to set myself the target of doing each combination 10 times on each side, making a total of 120 punch combinations. I thought this would test out my endurance, particularly as I intended to do every combination with maximum vigour!

I decided that a stepped approach similar to the push up challenge was required, so I did each of the six combinations in turn, 10 times on each side and then had 60 seconds rest before starting the next combination. The whole thing took less than 15 minutes and I didn't even collapse in a heap at the end of it!

It was as if once I had set the target and a schedule for achieving it, my mind just instructed my body to get on with it and released the necessary physical resources to do it.

I think I'm learning a lot more about myself from this push up challenge than just how to do push ups.....


  1. My DH is doing the push up challenge (after I mentioned that you'd mentioned it on your blog and suggested we do it.... haven't gotten around to mine yet. Oops! LOL).

    I think you're absolutley right that your state of mind has an affect on your physical ability. Prior to starting on the road to fitness a couple of years ago I went into everything with the "I'll never be able to do that" attitude and I couldn't. Now I approach everything with a "Can do" attitude and consistently surprise myself with what I can accomplish. Two years ago I was a couch potato who was 3 stone overweight. Now I'm fitter than I've ever been and I'm seriously starting to contemplate the idea that I might eventually make it to achieving shodan. It's definitely all in the mind. The more we think we're capable of, the more we can do.

    Glad the training is going okay. I'm amazed how quickly time is ticking by!


  2. Hi Marie, it sounds like you've really got yourself together in the last 2 years - good for you. If you are going to do the push up challenge then you ought to do it with your husband, it really helps to have a partner so you can encourage each other and chart your progress together. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.....(This was the saying printed on my grandparents toilet roll holder!)

  3. Marie: I decided that what you mention was so important that I gave it a name or phrase.

    "Jiko no hanashi no geijutsu." "Art of Self Talk."

    A favorite quote, "A warrior has only one true friend. Only one man he can rely on, HIMSELF. I believe in my strength of will, of purpose, of heart and soul.

    Do not speak badly of yourself, for the warrior that is inside you hears your words and is lessened by them.

    I am strong and I am brave. There is nobility of spirit within me. I will let it grow - I will do well enough. - Chereos: got it from Rory Miller's book or web site, can't remember.


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