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 — without any equipment.
In fact, a February 2019 study in Nutrition, Obesity, and Exercise found a relationship between push-up ability and future heart disease. The study tracked how many push-ups more than 1,000 participants could do over 10 years. Those who were able to complete more than 40 push-ups had a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease events compared with those who could do fewer than 10 push-ups.
We put together this month-long challenge to help you take advantage of all the impressive 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
We completed our most recent official round of this challenge in August 2023, but you can participate in the challenge any time you want on your own.
In this 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 smaller sets throughout the day.
The Challenge Calendar
Get a printer-friendly version of the challenge calendar here.
How to Do the Push-Up Challenge
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.
2. Join Our Challenge Facebook Group
Our community of more than 58,000 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.
3. Perfect Your Push-Up Form
Make sure your form is flawless before you add more reps. At best, poor form makes an exercise ineffective. At worst, it puts you at risk for injury.
- Start in a high plank 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 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.
4. Know How and When to Modify
- Start in a high plank 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 a plank.
Most trainers recommend incline push-ups over knee push-ups as they better replicate the form of a traditional push-up. This variation is also your best bet for progressing to standard push-ups because it builds the core strength you'll need for the full version.
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 push-ups (see above), while more advanced exercisers can try variations like stability ball or plyo push-ups. Experiment with the best push-up variations to keep this challenge from getting stale.
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, then some in the evening before you get ready for 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 between episodes of your favorite show.
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, try these upper-body stretches to ease muscle soreness after doing daily push-ups.
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 coworkers 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.
8. Celebrate Your Success
You made it to the end of the 30-Day Push-Up Challenge! Take some time to appreciate that accomplishment — and let us know how it went in our Challenge Facebook Group.
When you're ready, keep your momentum going with a new challenge, such as:
You can do any of our challenges on your own whenever you want, or you can visit our Challenges page to see what we have planned for the full year.