Do 1,000 Press-ups Over Christmas

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‘Tis the season…to build a bigger chest. Traditionally, the Christmas-New Year netherzone is a time to put the gym on hold – a time for pinballing between relatives’ houses, eye-bleeding television binges, and pig-in-blanket consumption that dances the line between heroic and insane. But this year, you’re going back jacked, because our challenge to you, dear reader, is simple: do 1,000 press-ups between 24th December and 1st January. It’s a mere 111 a day.

RECOMMENDED: How to Master the Press-Up

How you do it is up to you: if you like structure, there’s a plan below. If you don’t, just do the press-ups any way you like. We’d also advise you to throw in some ‘pulling’ – pull-ups or band pull-aparts would work, and are simple enough to do without getting changed – but even with that thrown in, you’ll spend less than 15 minutes a day building a bigger, stronger chest.

The only rule: do proper press-ups (the standard is explained below). You might not get everything you want over the festive season, but a bigger chest and better bench aren’t a bad start.

The Perfect Press-Up

Your standard for the next nine days. The form is simple, but strict: hands roughly shoulder-width apart, elbows tucked (they shouldn’t flare more than 45° from your sides) and body held in a straight line. At the bottom of the move, your chest touches the floor – at the top, your arms are straight. Doing press-ups this way will make you stronger, safeguard your joints, and even build your core.

The Plan

Christmas Eve: The Pyramid

Nice and simple for your first day. Do one press-up, then stop and shake it off for a couple of seconds. Repeat with two, then three, until you’re up to 10. Take a 30-second break, then go back down with nine press-ups, eight, seven... and so on, back down to one. That’s your first 100.

Christmas Day: The 5-Minute Push

Even on Christmas day, you’ve got five minutes. Start a timer going, and do 3-5 press-ups press-ups every 15 seconds, for five minutes. If you chose 5, that’s 100 down, and you’re done for the day. Commence gluttony.

Boxing Day: The All-Out Effort

Time for a challenge. You’re going to do five sets with a minute of rest in between, aiming for as many total reps as possible. That means leaving something in the tank, so stop each set a few reps short of utter failure. Remember to write your reps down.

27th December: The 30/30

Simple stuff: start a timer, do as many press-ups as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat for 10 minutes, and record your reps.

28th December: The Ladder

You’re going down, not up. Do 15 press-ups, rest as long as necessary, then do 14. Carry on until you get to one. That’s 120 today – add them to your total.

29th December: The Grinder

Time to make up the numbers. Choose a number of press-ups that feels easy and do that number on the minute, every minute, for 10 minutes. 100 should be easy – 150 is impressive.

30th December: The Tabata

Only four minutes to get through today. Set a timer, do as many reps as possible in 20 seconds, and “rest” for just 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times, and that’s today’s workout. 100 would be an impressive total.

New Year’s Eve: The Test

Time to see if the work’s paying off. Do two sets of 5-10 press-ups to warm up, then rest for 3-4 minutes. Shake it off, then go all-out – as many reps as you can, “resting”, if you need to, at the top of the move. Go to absolute failure this time – the set’s over when you can’t maintain good form for even one more rep. Rest 2-3 minutes, then repeat twice. For bonus points, convince fellow New Year revellers to join in.

New Year’s Day: The Finisher

You knew this was coming. Whatever your total number is up to now – hopefully it’s over 800 – your challenge today is to make it to 1,000, by any means necessary. Pick one of the workouts above, or just do a few sets of 10 spaced throughout the day.

Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.