So, my mother got me a copy of Mark Lauren's You Are Your Own Gym book, and I'm trying his workout plan. For the first week, everything is done as "ladders" where the plan is to do one rep, rest, two reps, rest, etc, until you've hit a number of repetitions where you feel failure might happen in subsequent sets, then do n-1 and so on down to one rep. He says that the rest period should be equal to the work period in length, and the ladder should take 7.5 minutes (if you finished a ladder before then, you start back at 1). The thing is, I was trying it with pushups and I barely made my way through two repetitions of the ladders (first time, with a high of five and the second one with a high of three) before my arms were rubbery enough that I couldn't get a single rep in.

Since each pushup was taking only a little more than a second, the rest periods were short too. I didn't even feel like I could exit the push-up position without running out of time. Should I be taking more time in between? Only count the time from when I'm out of position? Should there be rest periods in between ladders?

I know he has various DVDs and an app for his program, but I'm loathe to put more money in if the answer is simple.

2 Answers 2


I think the reason is how you perform the push-up. You can do them as a Martial Artist and you are focusing on quick burst with near zero resistence on the 'down' movement or you see this as a strength and body building exercise where you focus on where the muscles have a longer time under tention.

However, you should do your push-ups in a controlled motion ex. all the way with the same tempo (you can force yourself slowing down if you try to pull your hands together during a rep) or You can do them explosively on the way up but slow (two second or more) when going down.

In general I personally prefer the second one with YAYOG and I tend to do the rest by feel ex. when the hardest burn inside the muscles stops I continue.

Hope that helps.

  • There is another ladder approach you might find interesting it is called Suarez-Valey, mentioned by Josh Bryant and it works like this: you pick a number on how deep the valey should be ex. 20 reps and the you start with 1 rep do a small break (go by feel). The second set is 20 reps and a small break (again go by feel) the third set is 2 reps, fourth set would be 19 reps fifth 3 reps, sixth rep 18 and so on ... if you can reach both ends, just pick a deeper valey ex. 30 reps... just for variety nice to try ;-)
    – mitro
    Dec 30, 2015 at 12:38
  • So I need to be doing them more slowly? That doesn't entirely match with him stating them as "high-volume, low-intensity". Then again, maybe I just need to readjust where I see my fitness point as... he does recommend doing easier pushups (hands elevated from feet, etc) for people who can't hack it at the other levels.
    – Sean Duggan
    Dec 30, 2015 at 13:45
  • If you take a look at some of his youtube Videos you will notice a controlled steady pace in all of his movements.
    – mitro
    Dec 30, 2015 at 14:32
  • Looks like the best answer I'm going to get. :)
    – Sean Duggan
    Dec 31, 2015 at 13:45
  • Sorry if it is not satisfying - its all about expectations though ... the most Important thing is to not make it too complicated :-) a push up is just a push up. .. and with YAYOG is the same as with all programs, they are just templates
    – mitro
    Dec 31, 2015 at 14:03

In addition to mitro's answer above, about how I needed to do the pushups more deliberately, I also picked up the phone app, and learned that I was likely shorting myself for rest periods. Assuming a second per pushup, I was counting slowly backwards for the number of pushups, but it was at least a second going down, and one going up, so I was getting half of the rest I was supposed to be.

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