It's been almost 20 years since Demi Moore starred in G.I. Jane, but that crazy-inspiring scene in which Moore (as Jordan O'Neill) pumps out push-up after push-up has stuck with me. I've always wanted to be able to do that.
Why? The classic push-up comes close to a perfect exercise, challenging multiple muscle groups in the arms, chest, back, and core to build overall functional strength. But let’s just say my upper body has never been my better half. On a good day, I could eke out maybe eight push-ups max—and they weren’t pretty. I have—or had, I should say—a long way to go.
Last summer, I decided to see just how far I could get. I called New York City-based Master Trainer Shaun Zetlin, who is something of a push-up guru. Earlier this year he published a book all about this body-changing move (and its many variations) called the Push-up Progression ($16, amazon.com). Zetlin suggested a goal—50 reps in a month’s time (gulp)—and outlined the 30-day plan below. “This is totally doable,” he promised, as I stifled a guffaw.