You guys did so well with our last Burpee Challenge that I thought I’d throw down another 30-day challenge. As you have probably guessed from the title it’s a Push Up challenge!
There’s a reason why the Army makes its recruits do endless push ups. Some of these reasons include:
- They can be done anywhere there’s a solid floor.
- They develop awesome strength and endurance in your chest, arms and core muscles.
- No matter what level you’re at they can be improved upon by everyone!
It’s this last point that I love the most. If you’re a total beginner with push-ups, that’s actually perfect! Because you will improve faster and benefit the most from this challenge. If you’re already an expert – well then this challenge will take your push up portfolio to places you’ve only seen at the circus.
STOP! Before you scroll down and skip half of my blog to see what level of push up you’re up to – EVERYBODY STARTS AT LEVEL 1.
But before you even start level 1 I’m going to take you through 3 secrets that very few people know about and even fewer practice.
The secret to nailing push-ups
If you’re going to do push-ups every day for the next month, then it’s important to learn how to do them without burning out your shoulder muscles and without compromising your back.
Here are the injury prevention tips to do before every push up for the rest of your life. A little dramatic, I know, but I’ve rehabbed so many blown out shoulders in my time, and I want you to prevent any pain.
Step 1. Engage your Back muscles
Almost no one knows this move. I learnt it from a professional powerlifter who bench presses all day everyday and has NEVER had a shoulder injury.
Engage your lats, as shown below.
When engaged properly the muscles underneath your armpits will switch on and your shoulders will be pulled down away from your ears. Although this takes up more energy, it will relieve your shoulder joints and engage your chest muscles more.
Step 2. Brace your Core
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. But what I’m asking you to do this time, is to brace your abs consciously at the bottom of your push up, before pushing back up. Ideally, you should do this next to a mirror so you can see just how straight your trunk is. But eventually (and after the 30 days) I want you to be so intune with your body that you can feel every angle and muscle in your body.
Step 3. Stop at Perfect
If there’s one rule that I see broken at every gym I’ve ever been to, it’s that people will push for more reps at the expense of perfect form. This is something that the professionals never do – grinding out 1 or 2 extra reps. Why? Because this is the fast track to injury, and professionals cannot afford to have even the slightest niggle if they are being paid to perform each and every week at their best.
So before you start level 1 practise these 3 things that will result in:
- Minimal chance of injury
- Maximum calorie burning
- Maximum recruitment of the correct muscles.
When you recruit the chest muscles instead of the front of the shoulders this leads to stronger pecs (chest muscles) which results in a non-surgical breast lift – Double Score! Strong chest muscles also act as extra support if you are large chested.
Ok, let’s get into the challenge.
- As previously mentioned everyone starts at Level 1.
- Once you can execute 10 PERFECT reps you may progress to the next level. Aim to do 10 reps of each level with perfect form. If you cannot reach 10 reps then keep doing this level of push up each day until you can.
- If you are stuck on a certain level, you can do multiple sets of your level of push ups. This will help build and strengthen your push up muscles.
- If you’re accustomed to doing push ups without all the engaging and bracing then you’ll find it takes about twice the amount of energy to execute them perfectly.
Level 1 – Push Ups against a Wall
Stand facing a wall with about half a metre between your feet and the wall. Place your hands on the wall at about shoulder height and slightly wider than shoulder width apart, elbows pointing out to the sides. Open your chest up between your arms, draw your abs in and drop your shoulders down away from your ears. Keep your neck long by tucking your chin in and look at the wall just in front of your hands. Your feet should be around hip width apart.
Keeping the abs drawn in, bend the arms and lower the upper body so that the chest is as close to the wall as possible. Exhale as you straighten the arms to return to the start position.
Level 2 – Push Ups on Knees with hands on a Bench
Get down on your knees and place your hands on a bench, slightly wider than shoulder width apart, pointing your elbows out to the side. Lengthen your torso, draw your abs in, expand the chest and drop your shoulders down away from your ears. Keep your neck long, your chin tucked in and look directly at the bench just in front of your hands.
Keeping the core activated, inhale as you bend your arms and lower your upper body so that your chest touches the bench. Exhale as you straighten the arms to return to the start position.
Level 3 – Push Ups on Bench
As above except you’ll be on your toes.
Level 4 – Push Ups on Knees
Lay on the floor and place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, pointing your elbows out to the side. Lift up onto your knees and lengthen your torso.
Keeping the core activated, inhale as you bend your arms and lower your upper body so that your chest is as close to the floor as possible. Exhale as you straighten your arms to return to the start position.
Level 5 – Push Ups on Toes
As above except you’ll be on your toes.
Level 6 – Push Ups Feet on Bench – At standard knee height (if you were standing)
Now we’re cooking with gas and going places most people never venture.
Place your feet on a bench that is knee height. Engage all the usual back and core muscles and lower yourself down so that your chest is as close to the ground as possible.
Level 7 – Push Ups Feet on Bench – At standard hip height (if you were standing)
Place your feet on a bench that is around hip height. Engage all the usual back and core muscles and lower yourself down so that your chest is as close to the ground as possible.
If you can do 10 of these you’re ready for the Crossfit games.
Level 8 – Push Ups with Feet on Bench – At standard shoulder height (if you were standing)
Place your feet on a bench that is around shoulder or armpit height. If you can do 10 of these you’re ready for the Circus.
That’s it! The final level! If you can do 10 reps of these bad boys you will be amongst the strongest people on the planet.
It doesn’t matter if you never reach this level (I’m not at this level either!) the most important thing is that you improve.
When we improve at anything it is good for our mind, our emotions and in this case our body too!
It’s this last point that I want you to remember. Even if you’re hesitant to undertake this push up challenge, I challenge you to find something new that takes you out of your comfort zone, and that you can improve at.
When you improve an area of your body (and I’m not just talking about weight loss) your body will function with less stress and more efficiency. With today’s pace of life, we all need every advantage we can get. So if push ups aren’t your thing, find some other area to improve on. You can record it on a Google Spreadsheet or just in your head. Either way, you have 30 days from now to do it!
As always with these challenges, have fun and see how many other friends or family will join you on your 30-days. Post your progress in the Member Zone or your social media platforms. You might be the spark that changes someone’s life – or at least inspire a few push-ups 😉