The number of push-ups you can do is often tossed around as a benchmark for strength — and with good reason. Push-ups are one of the best upper-body exercises, building muscle size, strength and endurance.
Plus, they have the added bonus of not requiring any equipment other than your own body weight. (We call that a win-win.)
We put together this month-long challenge to help you take advantage of all the amazing benefits of push-ups. You'll build upper-body strength in just 30 days and you'll get the bragging rights after you knock out 60 push-ups in one day. (Don't worry, you'll build up to that!)
How the 30-Day Push-Up Challenge Works
The LIVESTRONG.com team hosts our own 30-Day Push-Up Challenge in our Challenge Facebook Group periodically. You can participate in the challenge any time you want.
In our version of the push-up challenge, you'll start on Day 1 with 5 push-ups. Each day, you'll add about 2 reps to the previous day's total, and every seventh day, you'll rest. On the very last day of the challenge (Day 30), you'll finish with 60 push-ups.
That may seem like a lot if you're just starting out, but the goal of this challenge is to build strength throughout the month and push you beyond what you think is possible. Plus, you don't have to do all of your daily push-ups in one go: You can break them into sets to do throughout the day.
To help keep you on track, we've created the calendar below that you can print out or save to your phone so you know exactly how many push-ups you'll need to do each day.
Get a printer-friendly version of the challenge calendar here.
How to Do the Push-Up Challenge
Step 1: Print and/or Save Your Challenge Calendar
Keep your calendar somewhere you can see it so you never forget what day you're on. Cross off the days as you complete them so you always know how many reps you have to do the next day.
Step 2: Join Our Challenge Facebook Group
Our community of more than 48,000 members is here to support and motivate you through this challenge. Share your progress by posting photos or videos of your push-ups or simply tell the group how the day's reps went.
Step 3: Master Proper Push-Up Form
Perfect your form before you add more reps. At best, poor form makes an exercise ineffective. At worst, it puts you at risk for injury.
How to Do a Standard Push-Up
- Start in a high plank position on your hands and toes, with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
- Contract your abs so that your hips don't sag and your back doesn't arch.
- Bend your elbows as you lower your chest to the ground, keeping your hips level. Your elbows should be at about 45-degree angles from your body.
- Once you lower as far as you can, push yourself back up to a plank.
Step 4: Know How and When to Modify
Don't worry about banging out full-on, military-style push-ups right from the start. If you find yourself struggling, try a few different push-up modifications until you build more upper-body and core strength.
Modification 1: Incline Push-Up
- Start in a high plank position on your hands and toes with your hands on a bench, chair, table or other sturdy object directly under your shoulders.
- Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the bench.
- Push back up to your plank.
This variation is your best bet for progressing to standard push-ups, as it also builds the core strength you'll need for the full version.
You can also perform incline push-ups against a wall to modify further. Or if push-ups are hard on your wrists, try doing them on your fists, balancing on heavy dumbbells or with push-up bars.
Modification 2: Knee Push-Up
- Start in a plank position on your hands and knees, with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to hips to knees.
- Bend your elbows and lower your chest all the way to the floor.
- Push back up, keeping your back straight and hips level the entire time.
Try breaking up your reps into smaller sets. You can do your push-ups anytime, anywhere. And it’s fine to do a few reps at a time with a small rest in between or to do sets of push-ups throughout the day.
For example, you can do some in the morning when you first wake up and some in the evening right before you go to bed. Look for moments throughout the day when you can squeeze in your reps — like if you've been sitting too long at your desk or during a commercial break in your favorite show.
Step 5: Try Variations for Every Fitness Level
Doing the same exercise over and over (and over) again is a recipe for boredom and burnout. That's why you might want to mix things up with push-up variations.
Beginners can modify with incline or knee push-ups, while more advanced exercisers can try variations like Spiderman or plyo push-ups. Experiment with the best push-up variations to keep this challenge from getting stale.
Step 6: Stretch When You're Sore
After busting out a bunch of reps, you'll want to stretch the muscles you've been strengthening. If your arms, shoulders and/or chest muscles need a little relief, there are some upper-body stretches, mobility exercises and foam rolling moves you can do to ease muscle soreness after doing daily push-ups.
Step 7: Don't Lose Steam
It's easy to start the challenge strong and then see your enthusiasm wane as the month progresses. Don't let that be you! Join our Challenge Facebook Group to get support and motivation from other participants.
Or try these other ideas to keep yourself accountable:
- Recruit friends, family members or co-workers to do the challenge with you and check in with them regularly.
- Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to do push-ups at the same time every day.
- Give yourself small weekly (or daily) rewards for getting all your reps done.
Check Out More of Our Challenges