3-Minute Pushup Challenge

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, M.Sc.

Creator, Turbulence Training Transformation Contest

This weekend I want you to take the 3-minute Men's Health pushup challenge designed by Martin Rooney (from Page 46, April 2010 Men's Health). Martin is one of the most experienced strength and conditioning coaches in the world.


It's a really cool test, and you'll love not only the numbers that you get, but also how you feel right after the test. It's amazing, one second you'll be cruising along cranking out pushups, and the next second your triceps will fatigue. It's humbling, but a great test. And you can also try it with other exercises, such as squats, pullups, bodyweight rows, chinups, and even lunges. But train safe - these tests are tough.

In the test, you'll try and do as many pushups as you can in 3 minutes. But make sure you know the rules before you try it.

Rule 1) Rest whenever you want - but the clock keeps running.

Rule 2) Perfect form...all the way to the top and all the way down to 2 inches above the floor.

Rule 3) Pace yourself however you'd like...Rooney says to take a 15-second break once you start to slow down after your first burst. Then take longer breaks as you get more tired. Do NOT go to total fatigue.

Proper pushup form:

Keep the abs braced and body in a straight line from toes/knees to shoulders. Place your hands on the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower yourself down until you are two inches off the ground. Push through your chest, shoulders and triceps to return to the start position. Keep your body in a straight line at all times and elbows tucked in.

When scoring the 3-minute pushup challenge, here's what Martin Rooney suggests as categories. If you get less than 55 reps in 3 minutes, you are below average. If you get 55-74, that's average. Over 75 but less than 99, that's good. To be excellent, you need to get 100 to 110. And if you get 111 or more, that's extraordinary!

Lots of folks will surprise themselves with their results...in a recent challenge, we had one woman hit 91 and another did 110. I personally achieved 114, but our top male did 138 reps. We are proud of everyone who has taken the test!

But no matter what you get, just make sure you use this one big tip.

Do NOT overdo it in the first set. If you're a guy and can do 40 pushups straight, don't do more than 15-20 in your first set. I can do 57 in a row and I stopped at 20 and went:

20-20-20-15-10-10-10-5-4 = 114

If you do 30 in your first set you'll bonk too quickly.

Don't be satisfied with the norm if you want more. It's okay to want to achieve special results. The world needs folks who dream and achieve big things. Keep pushing to reach your full potential. Persevere. Never give up. And don't let anyone hold you back.

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  • Raven says
    I'm too scared to even try this. I don't think I could do 10 in 3 minutes!
  • Jesus, that IS scary! 55 is below average?? I just do as many as I can in the morning until i get tired, then I stop. Mind you, check out the bod on HIM!!!

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