Push Up Challenge

Need a challenge? Want a benchmark for your upper body pushing strength? Cool thing is, this challenge will test your core strength and endurance too. Your relative strength compared to body weight is important.

I took a page out of Men’s Health and found this challenge.

Yes I know, I’m a woman, what am I doing reading Men’s Health?  I find that checking out what the dudes are doing is a great challenge for me too. Often times the workouts in women’s mags are a little less than challenging, so why not run with the big dogs?

This challenge was actually created by strength coach, Martin Rooney.

Take a look at the video and I’ll do the challenge for you:

Basically, what you do is this:

1.     Set a timer for 3 min. Your goal is to get as many pushups as possible in that time, you can rest, but the timer keeps going.

2.     DON’T go to failure your first set, go about 40% of your maximum push ups, as you go, rest for 10-15 seconds while keeping your form.

3.     Form must be perfect! No saggy backs, knees on the floor or drooping head! Make sure you’re going to depth, or chest is about 2 inches off the floor with elbows locked each rep.

4.     Check out your score on the chart below.

5.     SET A GOAL TO IMPROVE along with a TIME LINE!

Number of Push ups in 3 Minutes Category
<55 Below average
55-74 Average
75-99 Good


110 or more Extraordinary

Tips for Improving your score:


Core strength can be your issue if you’re hips start to sag. Any kind of plank-type exercise can help here:

Front plank

Side plank

Spider crawls

These exercises are great core stabilizers and will mimic the position of the push up for greater endurance during the test.

Tricep strength can be weak. Triceps help with the locking out motion at the top of the movement. High planks will help (as it also taxes the shoulder stabilizers). In addition, any tricep movement like a bench dip, overhead press, DB kick back with help with the lock out.

Many times it’s the upper back strength and stability that’s the weak link. Doing the ‘stick up’ as described below helps to develop stability through the shoulder girdle. DB rows surprisingly will help the push up as well since they target the upper back as well as the serratus anterior and obliques.


The Stick Up

  • Stand with your back against a wall. Your feet should be as close to the wall as possible and your butt, upper back, and head should all be in contact with the wall at all times.

  • Stick your hands up overhead. Keep your shoulders, elbows, and wrists touching the wall. Slide your arms down the wall and tuck your elbows into your sides.

  • This should bring your shoulder blades down and together, contracting the muscles between your shoulder blades as well as the shoulder muscles.

  • From the bottom position, try to slowly slide your arms up until they are straight and in a “stick-em up” position. Try to improve your range of motion each week.

  • The goal is to improve shoulder mobility and postural control.