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Weeklong Challenge: 1,000 Push-Ups

By Chris Brown

Push-ups are a classic body-weight exercise that maintains its effectiveness into modernity. Their elemental role in strength building inspired me to use them for a challenge designed to jumpstart my fitness after a year of pandemic-inspired idleness. Arbitrarily, I chose the round number of 1,000 push-ups as a weeklong goal. Little did I know, my atrophied muscles would make this round number as much a mental as physical challenge.

Day 1: 200 Push-Ups

Fresh with excitement, I started the week with a moderately difficult 200 push-ups. I completed them by setting a timer to complete sets of 10-15 evenly throughout the day and was optimistic, though my arms felt tight, by nightfall.   

Day 2: 100 Push-Ups

Intense soreness was present with the first set. From there, 10 push-ups were difficult, even when trying to pace my number throughout the day. After lunch, I neglected the rest of my daily goal altogether, hoping the break would allow a greater number the following day.     

Day 3: 80 Push-Ups

Lowering my push-up amount didn't dissipate my soreness. My body was sadly still worn out and, after a quick 80, I found excuses to discontinue.

Day 4: 0 Push-Ups

I could give the excuse of a holiday (it was Easter), but the truth is I was still sore and looking for excuses.

Day 5: 220 Push-Ups

After days of underperformance, I needed an extravagant amount of push-ups to have even a chance of completing my challenge. An advantage of the rest days was less soreness and I found that my strength had increased. I completed sets of 10-20 push-ups throughout the day and powered through an additional 45 before bed for a personal high.

Day 6: 200 Push-Ups

Even with the success of Day 5, I had two days to finish 400 push-ups. Smartly, I paced myself, but at 140 push-ups, I was nearly failing my sets. After a long nap, I somehow managed the last 60 for a total of 200 push-ups on the day.

Final Day: 200 Push-Ups

A sharp pain in my left triceps started after push-up 40. I thought the late push was too much for my out-of-shape body as I stopped to ice the constant, burning pain in my overworked arm. That night, though, I powered through the last 140 push-ups in sets of 25 (as the pain increased), motivated by the glory of writing this blog.

Challenge Lessons

So you obviously want to know what lessons can be gleaned from this exercise.

  • Don't overload too quickly - I learned this the hard way as the soreness from Day 1 hindered my push-ups for the following three. Also, the challenge itself caused a left triceps injury that took weeks to fully recover.  
  • Have an accountability goal - The goal of the blog kept me going when I might otherwise have quit in obscurity.
  • Make success the only option - Deciding to continue my challenge with 620 push-ups remaining for three days was more about disallowing the option of restarting the following week, than it was about willpower.
  • Physical challenges help overall life goals - I found that the momentum of success, however small and inconsequential, increased my motivation for other tasks that week.

My overuse pain could have been treated mid-week by an affordable, walk-in visit to my local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic. Instead, I needlessly increased my suffering throughout the challenge by not making time for a quick adjustment.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Park City, Utah.

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