9 Ways to Maximize Your Push-Up Challenge Efforts

Blaine Strong demonstrating modified push-up form for the Livestrong.com push-up challenge
Need a modification? Try push-ups on your knees. (Image: Chloe Millar/LIVESTRONG.COM)

The time has come to start the LIVESTRONG.COM 30-Day Push-Up Challenge! Beginning on day 1 (October 1, 2018), you’ll do five push-ups, adding two onto the previous day’s total each day. By the end, you’ll do 60!

You’ll also have a few rest days thrown into the mix to give you a mental and physical break. And through it all you’ll have support from the Challenge Facebook Group.

Since it’s the very first week, it’s important to start strong. So here are nine tips to help you make the most of this challenge.

1. First, Perfect Your Form

As with any exercise you do, maintaining proper form is essential. Doing an exercise correctly not only ensures that you’ll reap the maximum muscle-building benefits, but also that you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself from injuries.

Start in a plank position with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to toes. Contract your ab muscles 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 to your body. Once you lower as far as you can, push yourself back up to a plank.

2. Keep Track of Your Reps

The numbers may start small, but they add up quickly! So to prevent forgetting what day your on or having to count days on the calendar each time you go to do your push-ups, print out your calendar and keep it where you can see it.

Each day you complete, cross it off your calendar so you always know how many reps you have to do the next day. Alternatively, you can keep a copy on your computer or on your phone or log each day’s push-ups in a paper journal. (Remember those things?)

3. Know When and How to Modify

Full-on military-style push-ups can be intimidating, especially for beginners. So if you find yourself struggling with the original version, try a few different modifications until you build upper-body strength.

Wall Push-Ups: Stand a few feet away from a wall. Lean forward and brace yourself with your arms, keeping your hands under your shoulders. Bend your elbows to bring your chest toward the wall. Go as far as you can, and then push back to the start.

Blaine Strong demonstrating push-up form for the Livestrong.com push-up challenge
Incline push-ups are great, as they still incorporate a lot of core work. (Image: Chloe Millar/LIVESTRONG.COM)

Incline Push-Ups: Place 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 before pushing back up. This version is the best for progressing to standard push-ups, as it also builds the core strength necessary for push-ups.

Blaine Strong demonstrating push-up form for the Livestrong.com push-up challenge
Put a towel under your knees during modified push-ups if needed. (Image: Chloe Millar/LIVESTRONG.COM)

Knee Push-Ups: Start in a plank position, but drop your knees. Bend your elbows and lower your chest all the way to the floor. Push back up, keeping your back straight and your hips level the entire time.

Or if push-ups are hard on your wrists, try doing them on your fists or with push-up bars.

4. Break Up Your Reps Into Smaller Sets

It’s totally fine to do a few reps at a time with a small rest in between or to do sets 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. As long as you do all the reps for that day, you’re good to go!

5. Switch Things Up With Variations

Feeling bored with the same old, same old push-ups? Change things up with different versions. You can try wide-arm push-ups to target more of your chest muscles or diamond push-ups (index fingers and thumbs touching to form a diamond shape directly below your chest) to target your triceps.

There are also elbow-to-knee push-ups, single-leg push-ups, single-arm push-ups, downward-dog push-ups and so many more! Get creative and share your favorites with the Facebook Group.

6. Work With What You Have

One of the great things about push-ups is that you can do them anytime and anywhere. Been sitting too long at work? Time for a push-up break! Watching TV? Do a few during commercials. Waiting for the kids to get ready for school? Do a few against the couch (either incline or decline).

7. Round Out Your Routine

Push-ups are awesome, yes, but there are so many other great upper-body exercises too. So if building your upper-body strength is a top priority, here are some other exercises to incorporate into your routine:

  • Triceps dips
  • Bench presses
  • Overhead press
  • Bent-over rows
  • Lat pulldowns
  • Biceps curls
  • Chest flyes
  • Pull-ups

8. Stretch It Out

Stretching is a key part of any fitness regimen, and because you’ll be doing so many push-ups, you’ll want to stretch out the muscles you’re working. Here are some of the best:

  • Chest stretch: Clasp your hands behind your back and lift as high as you comfortably can.
  • Across-chest stretch: Reach one arm across your chest and hold it with the opposite hand.
  • Triceps stretch: Extend your arm over your head, bend at the elbow and reach for your middle back. Press your top elbow with your opposite hand for a deeper stretch.
  • Wrist stretch: Use your right hand to bend your wrist toward you and away from you.
  • Wrist circles: Rotate your hands in circles a number of times in one direction, and then rotate them in the other direction.

How to Join the Push-Up Challenge

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