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Metrics in Action: PushupTober

CoachAccountable Metrics are a powerful tool for measuring results over a span of time, yes, but beyond that, there’s magic in the measuring.

To illustrate, I give you PushupTober: a month of doing pushups regularly.  For the whole month the game is to do a single set, done once per day.  Starting at a manageable (but for most people will still make you sore) 15 pushups on day 1, and climbing to a goal of 45 pushups at the end of the month.

I did PushupTober for the month of October.  I want to do more pushups because they are a super easy exercise, work well with my current life of world travel, and I get nice, noticeable definition in my upper body whenever I actually stick to them1.

The problem is sticking to them.  My usual thing with pushups is to get inspired one particular day, do a set of like 20 or 30 until burnout, be super sore the next day, give myself a few days to recover, and then completely forget to resume when the soreness fades.  I forget because the inspiration has faded with it.

So I created a metric for this pushup problem, to see how deliberately structuring my efforts my help.

As stated above, I chose a starting target of 15 pushups for day 1, and 45 for day 31.  This gives a target trend line that goes up 1 pushup per day.  I knew I wouldn’t burn myself out with 15 to start, and 45 would be a stretch goal for the end of the month.  That was all the thinking I gave to it.  I set a 7pm daily reminder and then let the machine (with its reminders, graphs, and arithmetic) do the rest of the work.

At first it was fun.  I played through the mild soreness of the first few days as my body got back into the groove of doing pushups, clear each time of what I had to hit in order to stay on track.

Then I got hooked on seeing that extra green area on my graph, which happens when your number is above the trend line.  I kept wanting to eek out the extra one or two, because green on the graph looks GOOD: a satisfying visual representation of going above and beyond.

By two weeks in I couldn’t forget: taking the time to do pushups once a day was just simply wired in me, an exhilarating break in my day that was building tangible fitness.  The reminder email that CoachAccountable sent was no longer reminding me, it was just my cue to reply with my number for the day.  A minute later the system would reply to tell me how I was doing, a nice bit of reinforcement.

This is what the daily email back-and-forth looked like, straight from my gmail inbox.

This is what the daily email back-and-forth looked like, straight from my gmail inbox.

On the 14th I had my first heartbreaking result: my body was wanting a day off to recover, so I did just a dozen to keep with the habit.  With 12 pushups I was below my target for the day, and thus my graph had its first red blotch.

There would be several more throughout the month, and I continued to do the best I could, stayed focused on reaching my end goal (45 pushups in a single set by the end of one month), and added comments as I went with hopes of revealing insights about tendencies, what works, and what doesn’t.  You can see those comments when you mouse over the data points on the graph.

By the end of the month I was acutely aware of how I was stacking up against my goal, and determined to push hard to reach it.  Usually by this time the game of regular pushups would have faded away as just another good idea, already forgotten 3 weeks ago.

By contrast, seeing my graph with just a few data points left to put on it made the here and now very real, the goal and my performance very tangible.

The result was very good.  Though there’s a lot of red, I made my end goal of doing 45 pushups in a single set, and, well, my lovely wife was rather pleased with the results as well. :)

Doing a bunch of pushups is just a small part of life, but a clear illustration of mindfully setting up a goal and having a powerful and essentially automated structure to support it.  Just imagine what sort of goals you could support with the people you coach.

If you don’t have one already, you can get your own account with this premiere coaching software in just one minute, sign up here.

  1. You know that scene in the first Batman of the Nolan trilogy, when Alfred’s berating Batman for sleeping in all day and then Batman jumps out of bed, shirtless, and drops to the ground doing pushups?  Well, it was during that scene that my lovely wife declared she wouldn’t mind if I had some of that Christian Bale-like definition.   I don’t mind telling you that that exchange is a lot of the basis of my inspiration.


  1. Dalal

    I would like to learn more about how customizable are the metrics?
    Also in case I want to link the CA to my website and basically further integrate it with my brand as a Coach – is that possible and to what extent?
    Coach DD

    September 3, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

  2. John

    Hi Dalal,

    The answer to your Metrics question is: pretty darn customizable! You can track whatever you want, on on whatever basis you want (daily, weekly, etc.), for as long as you want, and set whatever target is appropriate.

    As for linking CA to your website to further integrate it with your brand, you can do that too. With White Labeling you can set the color scheme to match your own, incorporate your logo, rename the system to your own coaching practice, and embed a login for your clients right on to your own website. You can see the full scoop here:


    September 4, 2013 @ 5:39 pm