About two years ago, I first started seeing commercials for The Perfect Pushup on TV. The pitch was impressive and seemed perfectly tailored to someone like me: a 20-something, who, while not out of shape by any means (owing to a meek, Third World diet consisting primarily of rice and beans and water for flavor), didn’t quite have the physique that Hollywood presented as, I don’t know, awesome. You know, bigs arms, a ripped chest, etc. Sign me up, Sarge! Some months go by, I graduate college. I bounce around the world from Queens, to upstate New York, to Barcelona, back to upstate New York (where to next, friends?). Then, one day, while watching ESPN or some other proudly blue collar network, the commercial pops up again. Big arms, a ripped chest. “Oh, yeaaaah, I remember that thing, I wonder how well it actually works?”
First, what exactly is The Perfect Pushup? It’s a tremendously simple concept, if not actual device: two handles each set upon a rotating disc. That’s it. It’s right up there with the pulley in terms of “well, that’s clever, now isn’t it?”-ness. You place the handles on the floor, assume the standard pushup position, then rotate the handles as you push-up. It’s easier than walking and chewing gum at the same time, believe me. The idea behind this, as the commercial so masculinely puts it, is that the additional rotating motion you subject your body to as you push-up adds a whole other dimension to your workout, a dimension that presumably helps you tone up, etc. (On their own, pushups aren’t too bad for building strength, it must be said.) Depending on your current strength level—right now, try to do as many pushups as you can, until you collapse in a big, cartoonish heap, to get a sense of your strength level—a guide booklet included in the packaging suggests how many reps your set should include. Not having lifted a weight since the first Clinton Administration, my strength was such that the kind folks who put together the booklet suggested I begin my adventure with the 14-10-6 workout. That is, 14 pushups, 20-second rest, 10 pushups, 20-second rest, six pushups, 20-second rest. Then, ideally, you repeat this 14-10-6 (or your equivalent) set three times per day, each time adjusting the difference between the two handles to either REALLY FAR APART (ouch, those hurt a lot), REALLY CLOSE TOGETHER (wow, that’s a different kind of pain altogether) or JUST SORTA AT THE DEFAULT DISTANCE (eh, these aren’t so bad). As the previous parenthetical notes suggest, using the Perfect Pushup, especially in the beginning, hurts like nobody’s business. Then again, working out isn’t an easy thing to begin with. If it were, all of us would be walking around looking like Randy Orton!
So actually using the Perfect Pushup is dead-simple; whether or not you “bulk up,” however you want to define that (that is, merely tone up or resemble Scott Steiner), is largely dependent on other, external factors, primarily your diet and your tenacity vis-à-vis working out. (I guess there I could have said, “and your tenacity with respect to working out,” something that George Orwell would have preferred, no doubt.) If you use the Perfect Pushup, yet insist on maintaining a sedentary lifestyle, punctuated only by eating Cheetos—do people actually like Cheetos? They tasted awful when I was a pup, and I can’t even imagine how they’d taste to me now—and watching YouTube movies, then all the Perfect Pushups in the world won’t help you; you’ll still be a mess. Conversely, working out like it’s you job and changing your diet for the better—a meal I often made as a swinging bachelor in Queens was grilled chicken breast and broccoli, with water for flavor (you people have no idea how cripplingly boring I am)—will see you well on your way to a more healthy body.
Now to answer the earlier question, “I wonder how well it actually work?” Nearest I can tell, the Perfect Pushup works pretty damn well. (Regular readers, and you know who you are, know that I’m fairly negative on damn near everything these days, so even faint praise from me should be interpreted accordingly.) No, I don’t look like that guy from the commercial, but that’s also because I’m not consuming the hundreds of grams of protein that’s needed to put on that kind of muscle. Like I said in the beginning of this review, I have a very modest diet, one that’s not conducive to putting on weight, be it in the form of solid, manly muscle or John Biggs fat. I did, however, follow the instructions of the included workout booklet, and within a few weeks of opening the package I was able to move down the reps-per-set column pretty easily. At the peak of my Perfect Pushup use (I’ve slacked off for, oh, the past month or so; in fact, the majority of this review was written sometime in January, and has been sitting on my MacBook’s hard drive ever since!), I was able to bang out something like 35-40 pushups before my muscles gave out. That’s fairly remarkable, especially since the Perfect Pushup represented the only anaerobic exercise I’ve had for quite some time. It’s also more than double the amount I was able to do since Day One of using it.
The point is, then, that if you were to be smart about working out, and combine the Perfect Pushup with a proper diet and a regular exercise schedule, well, then you’re sitting pretty. Should you elect to only use the Perfect Pushup and change little else in your lifestyle your results, naturally, will be less impressive, but still notable. I mean, your strength will increase, of course, but to put all of this into tortured World of Warcraft terminology, it’d be like increase your STR without necessarily increasing your STA: you will be physically stronger, but your actual physique won’t look that different.
Of course, as is so of often the case when it comes to exercise, your mileage may vary. You may find yourself looking in the mirror after a few weeks using the Perfect Pushup saying, “Jesus, I don’t look half bad!” Then again, you could be the type who’s easily discouraged, and if you don’t immediately resemble Brock Lesnar, you may swear off exercise altogether. I’m here to say, don’t! This recession has no doubt put many people into a funk, and what better, healthier way to relieve stress than doing a few pushups… perfect pushups? (See what I did there?)
I can think of far worse ways to spend $30.
So if you were ever tempted by that damn commercial, fear not: the Perfect Pushup isn’t half-bad at all. In fact, in tidying up this review, I’ve gone back to my Perfect Pushup-ing. Hooray for anything!
As for the video, think of it as a fun bonus to all of those messy words up there.