The Push-Up Challenge
Take this three-minute push-up test to find out how fit you really are
Physical fitness isn’t just about lifting. It’s about how strong you are relative to your body weight, says Martin Rooney, strength and conditioning coach and author of Ultimate Warrior Workouts. That’s why he has his athletes-in-training do body-weight tests. If they struggle, they need to either gain strength or lose weight. Test yourself the same way with his push-up challenge.
Do as many push-ups as you can in 3 minutes
- Rest whenever you want, but keep the clock running the whole time.
- 2 For a rep to count, you must maintain perfect form: elbows locked at the top, chest five centimetres above the floor at the bottom, hips not sagging and knees not touching the floor
- Pace yourself however you’d like, but it’s best not to rush, Rooney says. Take a 15-second break once you slow down after your first burst. Then take longer breaks as you become more tired, he says. Never push yourself to total fatigue.
How you did
55 push-ups – Below average
55 to 74 push-ups – Average
75 to 99 push-ups – Good
100 to 110 push-ups – Excellent
111 or more – Extraordinary
Problems to look for
If you can’t do 15 push-ups with perfect form… Your chest and triceps are weak. Strengthen them by doing regular high-rep (12 to 15) sets of the bench press and triceps push-down. Also try push-ups on a power rack so you can set your body at an incline, making them easier. As you improve, lower the barbell until you’re doing regular push-ups. If your hips sag during push-ups… Your core is weak. Solution: planks and side planks. These exercises build stability and endurance in your core and mimic the movement needed to succeed at pushups. They’re also great ab workouts.
How to boost your score
Add push-ups to your routine twice a week for the next four weeks, says Rooney. Follow this push-up protocol, trying to complete each rep as quickly as possible. Then take five days off from push-ups and retest yourself.