They don’t have to be one-armed.

A question for my buff female friends: how many push-ups can you do?

(I ask for story purposes. I’m doing Fun Work, and need to know how many my jock protagonist would do if she felt like showing off. Which she does, ’cause she’s like that.)

0 Responses to “They don’t have to be one-armed.”

  1. kateelliott

    When I was young, a lot. Do you want straight until she can’t do any more? or sets? More if sets.

    • Marie Brennan

      Straight; it works better for showing-off purposes.

      • kateelliott

        I would say 50 is a nice round number, one I would totally believe and which would impress most people.

        My spouse says a really in shape woman could, like an in shape guy, do 100.

        • Marie Brennan

          I was thinking she intended to do 50, but when the guys watching her start placing bets, she goes for a hundred. (And then really regrets it when she has to use her arms for something else afterward, as they feel rather wet-noodle-like.)

          • kateelliott

            I personally would believe that. Totally.

          • Marie Brennan

            Good. She’s got kind of an Amazonian build anyway, and is very buff, so I’m aiming for the window of “plausible but damn impressive.”

          • fjm

            I am fit but not buff and can do three sets of eight which is still morethan most women manage.

            But as indicated above, women’s lack of upper key strength is because we are actively discouraged from developing it.

          • Marie Brennan

            Whereas this character has been actively encouraged to develop it. (And is well-suited for it to begin with.)

          • mrissa

            I totally believe that.

            When some of my friends started on the 100 Pushup Project, I wondered if I was overestimating my own buffitude. So I set about to see how many I could do at once, because that’s the first step of that project. At 50-some I got bored and said, “Perhaps this is not the project for me. I’m going to go play the piano now.” But I was starting to feel like I’d done something at that point.

          • Marie Brennan

            Heh. Thanks for the data point!

  2. pathseeker42

    When I was in high school I did 35 in a minute for my black belt testing. They told me I was supposed to be able to do 100 in a minute, but I think that was part of the psychological warfare that is black belt testing. Anyway, what you said with 50 then pushing to 100 sounds completely plausible.

    • Marie Brennan

      Yeah, my only data points prior to this post were from belt tests. I had to do 25 for my last test, and I think the fourteen-year-old girl who tested for black belt a while ago was asked to do 35; they vary it depending on the person testing.

  3. earthgoat

    Before pregnancy I was able to do 10 handstand push-ups.

    • mrissa

      You know what is really fun? When big ol’ football players start doing those to show off…and then you do them too and they are all deflated and sad because their showing off did not work. (And this is particularly nice because if they had been decent people they would have gone, “Ooh, she can do them too!” instead of, “Very sad, I am not king of the universe!” So it works out either way.)

      I can’t do handstands any more. My balance is gone. But that was a lovely moment.

  4. kendokamel

    I have difficulty with feeling like I’m going to pass out when I do “traditional” pushups, so I do wall or door-jamb pushups… and currently I can only do about 80 before my arms burn out.

  5. matociquala

    When I was doing them, I could do three sets of 25 fairly easily. I’ve quit, because pushups interfere with climbing. (It’s a training schedule thing)

  6. lianemerciel

    I think 100’s a fair number. That’s the most I’ve ever been able to do without collapsing, and I have the advantage of being fairly light (it is my totally unproven pet theory that buff Amazonian types would actually have more trouble with push-ups than I do, despite my pathetic upper body strength, just because they’ve got more weight to move).

    • Marie Brennan

      It depends on the weight distribution; some women stack on upper body muscle more easily than others (same is true of men), so yeah, an Amazonian lady whose muscle is distributed elsewhere would have more difficulty.

  7. erdedrache

    Women can generally do just as many push-ups as a man in the same condition. They might have less muscle mass (just a generalization, of course), but they also tend to have less body mass to push up (also just a generalization– I’ve seen some really large women who were very fit). It’s why police departments and other jobs with physical requirements tend to have gender-neutral standards. So I’d say just pick a number that’s impressive overall. The aforementioned 50 is good.

    • Marie Brennan

      Interesting — I’d assumed the physical requirements were gender-neutral because those kinds of jobs really do require a certain minimum level of fitness for reasons of safety and effectiveness, and it wouldn’t make sense to fudge those for the sake of equality. (i.e. if a woman doesn’t have enough upper-body strength to do a firefighter’s job, then nobody will be served by putting her out there anyway.)

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