I Tried This 20-Rep Push-Up Challenge From Chris Hemsworth’s Trainer—Can You Complete It?

Man performing push-up, his face screwed up with effort
(Image credit: Oleksandra Troian / Getty Images)

My ears always prick up at the prospect of some sort of fitness test, so when Chris Hemsworth’s long-time trainer Luke Zocchi popped up in my Instagram feed with a 20-rep push-up challenge, there was no question about whether I’d try it. 

The workout is simple: complete an unbroken sequence of five plyo push-ups, five hand-release push-ups on each side, five five-second negative push-ups and five push-ups with a pulse. 

Zocchi’s hand-release push-ups were unlike those I had tried before, with his hands leaving the ground at the top of the rep rather than the bottom. If you want to familiarize yourself with his movement standards, watch the video below for a demonstration of each exercise. 

Going into this challenge, I foolishly assumed completing 20 push-ups would be a straightforward task. After all, I spend upwards of five workouts a week with a barbell or dumbbells in hand, and I’m no stranger to bodyweight exercises

However, tagged on to the end of a grueling CrossFit workout containing front squats, rowing, pull-ups and (you guessed it) more push-ups, it proved to be anything but. 

The plyo push-ups went by without a hitch, and the hand-release variation felt fairly routine. Then came the five-second negative push-ups. 

Harry Bullmore performing a push-up

(Image credit: Future)

By the third one, my chest and triceps were on fire. Being disciplined with the tempo was tricky, with my body telling me to rush through the reps and get this over with. But, if I was going to finish this challenge with my honor intact, I knew I couldn’t cheat myself. 

Finally, I finished all five reps and moved on to the final exercise: the push-up with a pulse. I was relieved to be able to up the speed again, but by this point my body felt twice as heavy as when I started. Again, staying regimented with my form to ensure a full range of motion took some willpower, as the top and bottom of each rep felt like a real grind. 

But, with the prospect of a Schwarzenegger-esque chest pump (I wish!) on the horizon, I was able to power through the final rep before allowing my torso to flop to the floor. 

Zocchi suggests using this challenge as a bodyweight workout finisher, while also joking that it makes “a great pre-game pump up before you go out in public”. 

If you’re still working on your push-up power, you can also try completing this challenge with your knees on the ground. This means you’re not supporting so much weight through the working muscles, but you’ll still enjoy a sizable chest and triceps pump. 

Harry Bullmore
Staff writer

Harry covers news, reviews and features for Coach, Fit&Well and Live Science. With over a decade of training experience, he has tried everything from powerlifting to gymnastics, cardio to CrossFit, all in a bid to find fun ways of building a healthy, functional body.