The 30-Day Push-Up Challenge

avatarJessica Gouthro

Tone and strengthen your body from head-to-toe with this ultimate push-up challenge.

This push-up challenge is meant to be paired with a full-body training routine. I like to do these at the beginning of the workout while I’m at my freshest. As a warm-up, push-ups are perfect since they work your upper body, core and legs.

One important note before we begin: Make sure that you always keep your core and neck in line while doing push-ups. If you notice your core begins to sag or your neck is drooping towards the floor, then take a break and resume reps after a short rest pause. Sloppy form doesn’t count! So take your time and do the reps with precision. When done correctly, your body should not sag, bend or wiggle during a push-up. The only motion should be at your shoulders and elbow joints.

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Push-ups mainly work your pectoral muscles (chest), but they also use many of the other muscles in your body, including:

  • Deltoid muscles (shoulders)
  • Triceps (back of the upper arm)
  • Latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius (neck and upper back)
  • Abs and obliques (core)
  • Quads and glutes (front of thighs and butt)

Full range of motion for push-ups is when your chest dips just below the height of your elbows. Try not to put your knees on the floor as a modification since this will take away from the core work that boosts your strength. If you cannot complete all the reps with good form, use rest pauses instead of from-the-knees modifications.

How to use a rest pause: Stop your push-ups whenever you lose good form or feel too much fatigue or burn to complete another rep. Sit down on the floor, shake out your wrists, take a couple of deep breaths, and then resume when you feel ready.


30-Day Push-Up Challenge

For the next 30 days incorporate the following exercises into your regular workout routine to tone your muscles and build strength.

Try this challenge with a friend to help you stay accountable and finish all 30 days. It can be easy to get distracted, so I recommend printing this page out and posting it on your fridge or in your bedroom where you’ll see it every day. That way, you’ll be reminded of your goals and the steps needed to reach them.

This challenge can be modified for beginners or advanced. If you find it too easy, try adding more reps or more sets. If it’s too challenging, then use the angled variation or do the rest pauses mentioned above.

The rest days are also an important part of the challenge because rest is crucial to building strength. Make sure to take at least one rest day for every 4 consecutive workout days.

Revisit this challenge every couple of months to maintain your total body strength.

Angled Push-ups

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The “Angled push-ups” are a great way to modify any type of push-up because although you still have to maintain the straight line of your body, the load on your upper body is less, meaning you’ll feel less intensity and be able to do more and better reps. If you are struggling with any of the other push-up variations, then add the angle to any or all of these variations until you get strong enough to do full push-ups on the floor.

Wide Grip Push-ups

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Wide grip push-ups target your chest and front deltoids. The hand placement should be wider than shoulder-width apart, with your fingers pointing forward. Separate your feet to about shoulder-width distance as well. Make sure to keep your core super tight and create a straight line from your head to your toes.

Narrow Grip Push-ups

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Narrow grip push-ups target your triceps but also work your chest and shoulders. These are a bit more challenging than the wide grip push-ups because the triceps are a naturally weaker and smaller muscle group. Start by placing your hands directly below your shoulders.

Make sure that your arms are perpendicular to the floor and your shoulders line up with your fingertips. As you lower down, bend your elbows and keep them as close to your body as possible. Press up using the heel of your palms, and once you reach the top, you should be flexing your triceps as hard as you can.

Shoulder Tap Push-ups

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Shoulder tap push-ups are a fun variation that challenges the core even further. Start in the same position as the wide grip push-up, and at the top of each push-up, remove one hand, shift your bodyweight to the other side, and stabilize your core so that you do not turn or rotate. Tap your opposite shoulder with the free hand and then replace it back down for the next push-up. Alternate sides and make sure that your hips stay as steady as possible.

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(Your Next Workout: 15 Easy Exercises to Build Functional Arm Strength)

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