Back again: both "back to pushups" and "back to an earlier program week."
I had let them slide. They were discouraging. I was regressing.... not able to do as many as I had a week or two earlier.
Maybe low on glycogen with my low-carb nutrition?
Maybe, as a friend suggested, spreading my restorative resources too thin, doing intense upper-body training while the same body is trying to heal a serious Achilles injury.
Maybe just good old overtraining.
Whatever it is, I've decided to drop back, not an ability level as I had previously, but a couple progress levels. I'm staying at Level 3 but dropping back to Week 2. The number of reps will not stress me, and I'm thinking they'll serve as a warm-up for the final Max effort at the end of the session, where I hope to make my real progress.
Over my 22 years as an adult-onset athlete, I've become notorious for tweaking programs and doing my own thing. I've also found I don't respond well to too much training. I get overtrained very easily.
BTW: With low-carb nutrition I've lost 8 pounds in 3 weeks, and 2 inches off my waist. Skeptics might call the 8 pounds "just fluid," but the 2 inches are hard to argue with.
How it went:
Sets: 12, 12, 9, 7, separated by 60 seconds each. The second 12 was a little hard (I'm dipping lower than I was before, my son said I wasn't going low enough.) Then the max effort after 2 minutes -- I did 20. Felt OK. I'm back!