Mike Takes Up a Push-Up Challenge

So I was clued into a fitness challenge being presented by Pure Muscle Gains (PMG) on YouTube. Here’s the challenge video:

I found out about it through one of my Twitter follows (@GetFitOverForty)–who did his own challenge video–and I thought maybe I should give it a shot!

How many push-ups do you think a 52 year old man who  does three to four 90-minute workouts (sometimes at the gym, sometimes at home) each week should be able to do? I’ll let you watch the video to discover how I did…:-).

Update: Two Things

  1. I’m considering another attempt at this challenge (even if only for myself), where I try both to improve my execution of the push-ups (better, more indisputable form) and get to that ‘magical’ 100 push-up mark.
  2. Since my original post, I found some information about the number of push-ups you should be able to do at different ages:

Push Up Test Norms for MEN*

> 56
> 47
> 41
> 34
> 31
> 30
Good 47-56 39-47 34-41 28-34 25-31 24-30
Above average 35-46 30-39 25-33 21-28 18-24 17-23
Average 19-34 17-29 13-24 11-20 9-17 6-16
Below average 11-18 10-16 8-12 6-10 5-8 3-5
Poor 4-10 4-9 2-7 1-5 1-4 1-2
Very Poor < 4 < 4 < 2 0 0 0

Push Up Test Norms for WOMEN*

Age 17-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-65
Excellent > 35 > 36 > 37 > 31 > 25 > 23
Good 27-35 30-36 30-37 25-31 21-25 19-23
Above Average 21-27 23-29 22-30 18-24 15-20 13-18
Average 11-20 12-22 10-21 8-17 7-14 5-12
Below average 6-10 7-11 5-9 4-7 3-6 2-4
Poor 2-5 2-6 1-4 1-3 1-2 1
Very Poor 0-1 0-1 0 0 0 0

* Source: adapted from Golding, et al. (1986). The Y’s way to physical fitness (3rd ed.)


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Body Fat % Measurement & Calculator

I found a nifty body fat % calculator (below) and thought I’d make it available on the Mike’s Fit After 50 website for your convenience and mine.

It’s a rough approximation, but it seems to give a reasonable “ball park” estimate.

To get a more accurate measure of body fat percentage, you should consult with a exercise or weight loss professional. Some gyms provide this service. You can also do it yourself using one of these:


The American Council on Exercise1 suggests the following classification of body fat:

Classification Women (fat%) Men (fat%)
Essential fat 10-13% 2-5%
Athletes 14-20% 6-13%
Fitness 21-24% 14-17%
Average 25-31% 18-24%
Obese 32%+ 25%+

Anything below the essential fat classification and the body is negatively affected, both physically and physiologically. A normal person should aim to have average levels of body fat.

1Guidelines for percentage of body fat

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Muscle Mass and Being an Over 50 Vegetarian

When it comes to building and maintaining muscle mass, I’ve now got two things working against me: 1) I’m over 50, and 2) I’m a vegetarian.

Typically, starting in your 40s, you start to experience a slower metabolism and a decrease in muscle mass. And the two trends are related: more muscle mass produces a higher metabolism.

About 15 years ago, I switched to a vegetarian food diet. I’m not vegan: I still eat dairy and eggs. However, I don’t eat meat, and that includes not eating fish…and eating meat appears to be the most efficient way to acquire the building blocks for growing & maintaining muscle.

Since I turned 50 (I’m now 52+), I’ve noticed my muscle “bulk” is down; I still have a good amount of muscle (due to regularly working out), but it’s not what it used to be. My muscles don’t grow as much in response to weightlifting as they used to.

I started thinking I could just go for keeping my body fat % down and muscles well-defined, which is certainly also healthy and attractive. But it’s really the amount of muscle that keeps your metabolism up and leads to other positive attributes (like strength and resistance to certain diseases, like diabetes).

This has led me to start experimenting with supplements.

The first one I tried was Creatine.

Creatine basically increases your body’s ability to produce energy quickly, thereby allowing you to work out more intensely and/or with heavier weights. It also causes your muscles to absorb more water (which, of course, makes them look larger). It’s really the first feature (giving you more workout energy) that allows you to truly gain muscle bulk because you can train harder.

After a 7-10 days of using creatine, I was lifting heavier weights and seeing my muscles grow noticeably. The stuff works. I’ve read that it may not help as much after I get into my 60s. But for now in my 50s, it looks to be quite effective.

Since experiencing the success of this supplement, I ordered two others which I’ll be using and reporting back on in the next couple of weeks: Carnosine and Vitamin D3.

Carnosine reportedly reduces muscle fatigue and at least partially reduces various degenerative processes (so it’s considered to promote “anti-aging”). It’s the reduction of muscle fatigue (which should also help the intensity of my workouts) I’m primarily interested in; the anti-aging aspect isn’t bad either…;-).

Vitamin D3 has been linked with muscle mass and function and is usually found in fish and fish oil (which I’m not getting in my non-meat diet). Vitamin D3 can also be gotten from the sun, but I live in one of the cloudiest places in the country (especially in the Winter); not to mention that I need to keep my exposure to the sun somewhat low because my skin has shown some vulnerability to skin cancer (fortunately, not melanoma so far).

The other thing I think I need to do is simply make sure I get more protein in my diet from dairy (esp yogurt & cottage cheese), eggs, and nuts. I think I just haven’t been including enough protein in my vegetarian diet, especially considering the intensity and regularity of my workouts.


So, I have entered a stage of my fitness program where I’m trying to see if dietary changes and supplements can help me achieve the results I’m looking for. So far, so good; but I’ll report back as I add carnosine and vitamin D3 into the mix, as well as upping my protein through the vegetarian sources most available to me that seem to have the best chance of making an impact (i.e., dairy, eggs, and nuts).

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Brand New, Members-Only Fitness Forum

So we’ve decided to start a members-only Fitness Forum here at Mike’s Fit After 50!

The purpose of the forum is to create a community of 40 – 60+ years and older individuals interested in staying physically fit. In the forum, we will share fitness stories and information, fitness questions, post information and photos of our progress, and so forth. Mike will be make a concerted effort to respond to every post.

This is a closed forum only accessible by Mike’s Fit After 50 members.

Check it out (click here)!

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