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500 Pushups

Built to Endure
Training the Tactical Athlete
CAPT Mike Prevost, PhD, US Navy

and programs represented in this program or any of our training programs or other

CAPT Mike Prevost, PhD, US Navy


Copyright Michael C. Prevost, 2015. All rights reserved. Duplication and redistribution
of unaltered copy is authorized. The content, in whole or in part is not to be offered for
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Disclaimer: The advice and information contained in this document may not be
appropriate for all individuals. Therefore, the author, employees, company, affiliates, or
any other parties involved in the creation or promotion of our products are not
responsible for any injuries or health conditions that may result from advice, opinions, or
information provided. The information on this website and in the training program is the
opinion of the author and is not a replacement for medical advice. You should consult a
physician before starting any diet or exercise program. If you choose to follow the
program without consulting your physician, you are doing so at your own risk. We claim
no responsibility for any injuries you might sustain. The opinions and assertions
contained herein are the private opinions of the author and are not to be construed as
official or reflecting the views of the U.S. Navy or Department of Defense.

How to Build Tremendous Pushup Durability

I spent several years as the director of the human performance laboratory at the U.S.
Naval Academy (USNA). While at USNA, I also served as an exercise physiology
consultant to the athletic department and to the Brigade of Midshipmen. During my
years at USNA I helped many Midshipmen prepare for various tactical programs (i.e.,
BUD/S, USMC TBS, Ranger etc.). I had an opportunity to experiment with several
methods before settling on one that seemed to work best. For many tactical schools,
the ability to endure hundreds of pushups per day without injury is a necessary ability.
Building that ability alone is simple. However, building that ability while simultaneously
working on strength is more complex. It is really easy to wreck your shoulders if you are
not careful. You can tolerate quite a bit of volume if the fatigue stimulus is managed.
By structuring the pushup training in a smarter way, we were able to do both
simultaneously. The program described here is set up for a program that includes
strength training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (or 3 nonconsecutive days per
week). It works equally well if you strength train on Monday and Friday only. If you train
on other days of the week, you will have to adjust the program.
1. We set daily pushup volume at 250% of the one set maximum. This is a guideline
and probably represents a middle of the road position in that it is a reasonable daily
volume based on a max but doing up to 50% more or less would probably also work.
One set maximum is the maximum number of pushups you can do with correct form in
one continuous set. This is tested by doing one set, straight through until you cannot
complete an additional repetition. No resting is allowed in either the up or down
2. We did a set number of pushups every day. We could have waved the volume but
we wanted to keep it simple and we also found that waiving the fatigue stimulus was
better than waiving the volume. This gives you one target to hit every day.
3. We did the same number of repetitions for each set on a given day (plus one last
clean up set to get to the target number of repetitions). This was also a keep it
simple solution. All you have to remember is the rep count per set for the day and the
total. Cut a 10 piece of string and keep it in your pocket. Every time you complete a
set, tie a knot in the string. It helps you keep track (you will lose count otherwise) and it
serves as a reminder every time you put your hands in your pockets.
4. We put the greatest pushup fatigue stimulus on training days, and the lightest fatigue
stimulus before and after strength training days. The fatigue heavy stimulus set the
repetitions at 75% of your max and the recovery days used 30% or 50% (weekends).
For the fatigue heavy stimulus days, complete all pushup sets within 2 hours. We
recommend doing them in conjunction with strength training or immediately after. For
the recovery days, spread the sets throughout the day grease the groove style.
5. Use perfect form for each and every repetition. No sagging hips or partial reps.

6. Increase the amount of pulling volume to offset all of the pushing volume. This can
involve simply adding a few sets during the course of your normal strength training
7. Maintain flexibility across the pectoralis and deltoid muscles.
Note: #5, 6 and 7 are critical and should not be ignored. Also, one of the weekend
pushup days is optional. Skip a Saturday or Sunday pushup workout if you need the
extra recovery. If you start to experience any nagging shoulder pain, you need to
reevaluate your pushup form and will probably need to reduce volume. Most people
were able to work their way to 500 with meticulous attention to form and not getting too
greedy with volume. A conservative approach to increasing volume is best. When in
doubt, dont increase the volume. This is a long term solution and not a quick fix.
Going from 100 pushups per day to 500 per day is more of a 6 month (or more) goal
than a 6 week goal. More realistic is probably 1 year. Patient trainees will be rewarded
with great progress and no injuries.

The tables below represent sample weekly programs based on the 7 principles we discussed. We provided enough
examples to give you a general idea of what this structure looks like. You can stick to these numbers and progress only
when you reach a new maximum on the table below, or you can interpolate and calculate your own numbers based on
your maximum. Testing your maximum every 2-3 weeks is probably a good idea. When you test your maximum, rest
plenty before your additional sets and complete the days volume with sets of about 20% of your maximum for the
remainder of the reps, done grease the groove style.

About the Author

Mike Prevost earned a PhD in exercise physiology from Louisiana State University in
1995. He specialized in muscle physiology and metabolism. Throughout his college
years (10 years total) he worked as a personal trainer and coach in various gyms and
fitness centers. He has trained athletes for many different sports including triathlon,
ultra-running, surfing, power lifting, bodybuilding, mixed martial arts, football, basketball
and more. After finishing his PhD, he took a commission in the U. S. Navy as an
Aerospace Physiologist in the Navy Medical Service Corps. While serving in the Navy
he developed human performance training material for the U. S. Special Operations
Command. He developed new fitness standards for Navy rescue swimmers. He
served as a consultant to the USMC in evaluating the safety of the USMC Combat
Fitness Test. He also served on a Navy committee tasked with proposing alternatives
to the Navy physical fitness test. He trained thousands of aviators and aircrew on
survival techniques, physiology, and human performance. He also served as the
Director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the U. S. Naval Academy, where he
performed physiological testing of athletes to improve performance, developed the
Principles of Strength and Conditioning Course for all Midshipmen, and served as the
director of remedial fitness training programs. He has over 25 years of experience in
working with athletes.