The push up is one of the most classic exercises. In a gym, the standard measurement of strength seems to be the bench press. When meeting a new gym buddy, it doesn’t take long before either one asks “Dude, how much do you bench?” In my world, the push up holds just as much credence. It does very little for total chest activation, tiring the front of your shoulders or triceps before the pecs have any real load placed on them, but when done properly, it’s a fantastic upper body exercise, even involving the lats. The question I get asked most often as a soldier – aside from whether I’ve actually killed anyone – is how many push ups can you do?

In 2014, I tried to complete the Push Up Challenge that was publicised by rowing legend Pete Reed, but a wrist injury meant I had to drop out. Here I am nearly four years later, attempting it again, and I would like you to join me. The concept is simple: On 1st January, do 1 push up, on 2nd January do 2 push ups, on 3rd January do 3 push ups and so on, until you’re doing 365 push ups on 31st December. They don’t have to be done all in one go, spread them out through the day, incorporate them into your workout, do whatever you need to do, just do them in one day. You can’t bank push ups. If you do 100 on day 1, that’s great, but you still need to do 2 on day 2. You can’t defer push ups. If you don’t hit your target, you can’t catch up the next day.

You don’t need to be an expert, or seasoned fitness freak to take part. Anyone and everyone can join in. Involve your family, involve your pets, do them up a mountain or with some weights in your pocket on the bottom of the ocean. All I’m asking is that you have fun whilst simultaneously challenging yourself. Your body will adapt to the progressive increase in number, and when you’ve finished, you’ll be amazed at how many you can do. It’s a test of commitment, endurance, and time management.

If you’re reading this in 2018, you haven’t missed the boat. There are still 2 ways you can join in even though the challenge has already begun. You can catch up by completing all those push ups you’ve missed to date, and then continue as normal, or you can spread them over the days you have left. If you join in on day 10 for example, you will need to do 55 press ups and then on day 11 you can go back to normal sequential amounts from 11. If you start on day 100 you will need to do (n/2)*(n+1) press ups. That’s 100/2 * 101 = 5050 push ups. If you can’t do over 5000 push ups in one day to catch up, then you’ll need to spread them over the remaining 265 days and do the next day’s 101 push ups plus an extra 19 or 20a day until your debt is paid.

In addition, and because I’m so generous, you have 5 mulligans. I understand that life can be very demanding, so to accommodate it you have 5 wild cards. 5 days where you can rest to avoid injury, attend a business meeting without having to do push ups half way through, or simply forgive yourself because you’ve forgotten to do them. But only 5. Use them wisely.

So what do you say, are you in? Use the hashtag #GettingDadFitPUC18 and show me where and how you’re doing the push ups. Variety is key to avoiding injury, here’s a video showing 33 different variations for starters. Plus, there’ll be a surprise award for the person who shows me the most imaginative push up, in the most remarkable location at the end of 2018!

I look forward to doing this challenge with you.

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