Death by Push Ups Test (Extreme Push Up Challenge)

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
November 03, 2021

Welcome to the “Death by Push-Ups” Test! This challenge is going to work you to complete exhaustion… to the point where you’ll barely be able to lift yourself off the floor afterwards! Not only that, it will also provide some friendly competition and show you where you stand among others in the Shot of Adrenaline community.

After all, there are lots of benefits to working out at home, like privacy, low cost and convenience. That said, one of the biggest downfalls with a home-based workout program is that you can’t compare yourself to others as readily as you could in a gym or fitness center.

Having friends that set “markers” for you to reach helps you push harder. It sets the stage for greater achievement.

When you workout alone, you can frequently allow yourself to take the easy way out.

This has been a long-standing belief in the fitness community, and in fact was recently confirmed in a study by the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

The study found that people who work out in groups rather than by themselves can significantly improve both performance and motivation over time.

Most of us tend to think we have a strong work ethic. And of course, a lot of us do. Still, you’ve probably had thoughts similar to these when working out alone:

Ah, that feels like I got a pretty good workout. I don’t need to finish the set.”

My shoulder is a little tight, I think I’ll take an extra day off.”

I feel super achy. If I take an extra day off for my body to recover I’ll gain even more strength than if I did my workout today.

Knee Health Score 2

We all tell ourselves lies that prevent us from doing the things we set out to do. That’s why having workout partners is so beneficial. You both create a “scale” by working out together. So instead of throwing in the towel for the day, our thoughts sound more like this:

Joe got 8 reps. I’m going to rock out this set and get 9.” Its healthy competition. It’s good for us.

That’s why in this week’s workout I have created a special scale, so you can see where you stand against others.

And the exercise we’ll be using to measure our strength? Why the good ol’ push up, of course!

death 3

The Death By Push Ups Test

The following steps outline the “Death By Push Ups” Test you’ll be taking.

To kick off the competition, we’re sending in two guys from A Shot of Adrenaline to battle it out:

The founder of A Shot of Adrenaline, Todd (AKA “Bodyweight Todd”)…

Bodyweight Todd next to his idol Bruce Lee's Hollywood Star

And Paul, A Shot of Adrenaline’s Host and Trainer…

Paul, SOA's host, at a ballgame

We’re going to post their results below, so you’ll know how you stack up against these guys, too!

Before you get started, let’s lay the ground rules…

Death By Push Ups Rules:

1. The pace for each push-up should be 1 second down and 1 second up. No blasting them out like a crazed maniac. You won’t get any real results that way.

2. You must perform a full range of motion. Pictures of Todd demonstrating each exercise are provided below for you to reference.

3. NO REST BETWEEN SETS. The only rest you get is the amount of time it takes you to write down your number. And you need to have your pencil and paper right there with you. If you rest for more than a couple of seconds between sets, that’s considered cheating.

4. Make sure you’re keeping track of how many you can do in each variation because you’ll be tallying them all together at the end.

***When taking the test you need to max out on each exercise. If you save all your energy for the last (easiest) exercise, of course, you could knock out a ton of them. You should push yourself on each exercise to the point where you can’t do a single rep more, then move on to the next exercise.***

Exercise 1: Decline Push-Ups

death by push ups test

Place your feet on a couch or chair that is 12 inches off the ground. It needs to be about this height. If you have something higher it will make the test harder and if you have something lower it will make the test easier. We need to keep things consistent.

Todd’s Score: 40 Reps 

Paul’s Score: 35 Reps

Tip from Todd: “I did 40 Reps. You should not be stopping on an even number like this if you are pushing yourself to full fatigue. Realistically, I probably could have done 1 or 2 more. During each exercise you’ll probably fatigue on an odd number like 9 or 14, not 10 or 20.”

Exercise 2: Wide Push Ups

death by push ups test

After you have finished Decline Push Ups, move straight on to Wide Push Ups. This is another exercise that lends itself to potential variation. The farther you put out your hands, the harder it will be. In order to standardize this test, find a position with your hands that is 1 and a half times your shoulder width.

Knee Health Score 1

In other words, your hands won’t be right under your shoulders like a normal push up and they won’t be expanded all the way out so that your chest is on the ground. They will be somewhere in the middle.

Todd’s Score: 17 Reps

Paul’s Score: 12 Reps

Exercise 3: Diver Bombers 

death by push ups test

This is one of my favorite exercises. It works the chest along with the shoulders and triceps. You will keep your hands in a normal push up position and place your feet out wide. Make sure you are getting a full arc both on the forward motion and the backward motion. FYI- Diver Bombers are NOT the same thing as a Hindu Push Up.

Todd’s Score: 11 Reps

Paul’s Score: 11 Reps

(You can see the numbers dropping. Now its REALLY getting tough!)

Exercise 4: Knuckle Push Ups 

death by push ups test

Knuckle Push Ups are performed just like regular push ups, except on your knuckles. Make sure you are getting a full range of motion with each rep.

Todd’s Score: 4 Reps

Paul’s Score: 5 Reps

(Ugh, its burning!)

Exercise 5: Regular Push Ups

death by push ups test

Regular Push-Ups don’t need too much of an explanation. Just make sure you are going full range on these and they should be a cadence of 1 second down and 1 second up.

Todd’s Score: 3

Paul’s Score: 5

Exercise 6: Knee Push-Ups 

death by push ups test

The last exercise in the test! Hooyah! By now, your chest is shredded. Even a simple exercise like Knee Push-Ups feels like climbing a mountain.

*IMPORTANT: It is imperative that you use the proper form when doing these exercises. Don’t just get in a “doggy position” and crank them out.

Here’s how to get into the proper form:

1. Get in a normal push-up position.
2. Drop your knees to the floor. Where ever your knees fall that’s where you’ll do the push-ups. Don’t try to scoot your knees up closer to your hands. This will make it too easy.

Todd’s Score: 7 Reps

Paul’s Score: 11 Reps

Knee Health Score 1

(Phew! So glad its done!)

How To Find Your Score

Hope you kept track of your reps because you’ll need the numbers now. In order to find out your total score and find out where you stand on the “Death by Pushups” Scale add up all your numbers.

Here’s how our guys did: 


  • Decline Push Ups: 40
  • Wide Push Ups: 17
  • Diver Bombers: 11
  • Knuckle Push Ups: 4
  • Regular Push Ups: 3
  • Knee Push Ups: 7

Total Score: 82 Reps


  • Decline Push Ups: 35
  • Wide Push Ups: 12
  • Diver Bombers: 11
  • Knuckle Push Ups: 5
  • Regular Push Ups: 5
  • Knee Push Ups: 11

Total Score: 79 Reps

Wow, that was close! Now, it’s your turn.

Go ahead and find your number then put it in the corresponding range below.

Other Push Up Articles You Might be Interested In:

Show/Hide Comments (75 comments)
  1. Clive

    57 -year old male battling to make progress. Started part-time calisthenics with lock down late March 2020 (previously a bit of weights in the gym x3 days per week but gym a covid casualty).
    Then discovered your wonderful beginners programme and started 8 June 2020 with my gym partner (we do the programme together by zoom every morning) . Progress was rapid and almost startling. Did the death by push up test two weeks in – my total was 46.
    Then finished the programme and repeated the test – my total 47.
    Partner went from 38 to 64.
    What on earth??

  2. Jack Smith

    16 years old and got 63

  3. Josh

    Total 80
    Man it burns

  4. Matt Norum

    Great workout!
    Git 103 ,hopefully I’ll be able to get at least 126 next time!

  5. Mike

    WOW!! That’s was a tough test. I loved it. Here are my results
    Decline diamond push ups 30
    Wide 34
    Dive bomber 8
    Knuckle 19
    Regular 10
    Knees 28
    Total 129

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Great job Mike!

      – Todd

  6. Rachel

    P.S. I have no athletic ability, but have worked all my life and have achieved slightly lower than average strength than the women I know.

  7. Rachel

    Why is this push up test aimed at men? I’m a typical female. . . nicely muscled bottom half, tiny upper half with tiny muscles and no fat. Been lifting weights my entire life ( I’m sixty one ) and have never been able to achieve any more than average strength in my torso. I’ve never done more than three knee on the ground push ups. Please give some advice for people like me, for instance, push ups against a wall to start with.

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hi Rachel,

      This test is challenging no doubt about that, but everybody can take it. If you can’t take it now, you’ll be able to take it sooner than you may think. Have a look at our program for beginners here.

      – Todd

  8. Chili Bu

    did something along these lines the other day for shits n giggles,
    tho I used paralette push ups, diamond push ups, suspension push ups and finished with offset push ups (one hand on paralette and the other on floor, then switch) for my variety…
    again just for fun..and to be honest it was footage for a video series entitled ‘Cannabis & Calisthenics’ I’ve recently started so I had consumed half a doobie before undertaking it,
    ended up cranking out 75 in 5 minutes and was not too impressed with the number but I soon realized it gave me a base average to work off of at 1 rep every 4 seconds,
    tons of room for improvement….damn lazy stoner stereotype be damned,
    train HARD & train SMART eh
    Like · Reply · Just now

  9. Apollo Honda

    That was a kick in the tri’s!
    Dive bomber-10
    Knuckle up-20
    Knee-11 1/2 (couldn’t finish the whole rep but hey, a negative has to be worth something, amiright?)

  10. Joshua


    • Todd Kuslikis

      Great job, Joshua.

      – Todd

  11. Lisa Green

    Found this page about bodyweight exercises which I am a huge fan of! Good challenge.

    I have a friend who does 200 burpees with no pauses, and he’s 54 I think.
    I am going to send him this pushup test to see how many he could do.

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Fantastic! Let us know how it goes.

      – Todd

  12. Karl

    Just finished. 61. Dive bombers did me in, too.

  13. Steve

    Hey Todd: I let the guys at work read your email you sent me. We are always trying to find something new to challenge each other? We each have workout picking names like for me (Steve) Mr. calisthenics, we have planet fitness and last but not least we have backyard gym! I know lol. But my question to you is do you do this everyday? Sign: I’m about to put the death by push ups in the grave!!!!

    • Todd Kuslikis

      That’s hilarious! I would like to hear your guys’ results.

      To answer your question, I don’t do this everyday.

      – Todd

  14. olufemi okusami


  15. Tufael

    Total 106

  16. Andrew Jaynes

    56…I haven’t done a push up set in in over a year! Crap, I’m out of shape! Thanks for the boost!

  17. jeffz

    only got to 32.5 total; feelin’ the burn;
    intending to keep at it, daily if I can;
    excellent “test/practice” … !
    looking forward to the squats version;

    thanks, Todd & y’all …

    jeff, age 75

  18. paul mc louvhlin

    Dec push ups :30
    Wide push up:15
    Diver bombers:6
    Knuckle push ups 3
    Regular push ups 10
    Knee push ups 12
    Total : 76

  19. Caleb

    Tough couple mins! Was hoping to do better, but not too bad. 47. 12. 10. 6. 7. 7. 89 total

  20. Joe

    Thanks for the inspiration! Finally got myself moving:
    decline push-up: 17
    wide push-up: 7
    dive bombers: 2
    knuckle push-up: 2
    regular push-up: 4
    knee push-up: 5
    Total: 37
    Not too bad for me! Will have to keep testing myself.

  21. Jahson Miles

    Funky challenge 😉

    Have to try that out again at some point.

    I’m sure I can do much better. Makes me want to do much better. Thanks for that though 😉

  22. Mark Tucker

    So on my first try after my dumbbell chest workout was 63, and on today, my second try with fresh muscles, I did 85. definitely a big difference. This is fun, definitely gonna incorporate this into my workouts

  23. Cherina Gray

    OK Try again
    I already did 75 mins abs/arms box today so kinda fatigued but eager to try this out
    My score
    Wide=10 (HARD!0
    Hindu ( wide leg )=5
    Knuckle=2 ha ha
    Bent EASIEST= 27
    Man I was dripping in sweat I can tell you
    Anyhow happy with that for a 53 year old Mother of four 😉
    Definitely going to try again when I’m not bushed!
    Thanks for the challenge

  24. Cherina Gray

    Hey my post didn’t work I think?

  25. LeRoy Jackson

    I’m a late comer to the bunch. Glad I found your website Todd and thanks for the links to it. I am off on a 2 week vacation but will be back. I’m taking my computer, so maybe I can keep up while on vacation. Maybe even do some workouts. My body is pretty weak from being ill, but better late than never to start. I’ll get stronger as time goes by. I’ll probably have to do the baby version of the workouts but it will come.

  26. Fletch

    Another over 50 YO. 21, 5, 4, 3, 4, 11 = 48. Knuckle were the most challenging after dislocating my middle finger a couple of weeks ago. I will test myself around once a month to monitor my progress. I like your site and appreciate all the work you put into it Todd. Cheers.

  27. Azi

    I’m 53 and just tried this for the first time. 33, 10, 4, 4, 5, 7 = 63
    Todd love all of the resources on the website!

  28. Jake

    78 for first try. Determined to improve.

  29. Ross

    I did 24,14,27,9,8,19. Have not been doing a lot of push-ups so expect to be sore tomorrow. I also had to record and read about each successive exercise so it gave me a short rest. This is an awesome workout. Short and intense. Thank you.

  30. Kyle

    Nice exercise this was fun. Just an FYI, you’ve used the wrong ‘your’ in the title. Just remember it this way – “Proper conjugation is the difference between knowing your shit, and knowing you’re shit.” Keep up the good posts!

  31. Paula Williams

    I saw this and did it after already working out this morning (lots of Spiderman push-ups). My total was 56. What do you think a good score for a woman is?


    Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been
    blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is wonderful, let alone the content!

  33. southern health

    I just like the helpful info you supply in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and check once more right here frequently.

    I am relatively sure I’ll learn many new stuff proper here!
    Best of luck for the next!

  34. what is fitness

    Great blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little
    lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a
    free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
    There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed ..
    Any tips? Many thanks!

  35. zian

    40 27 10 3 9 20= 109
    Arms are in pain, difficult just to type

    • Todd Kuslikis

      LOL! Nice work.

  36. mike

    My score was Elevated 45, Wide-grip 10, Dive-bombers 1, knuckle 7, regular 8, knee 10 for a total of 81. Awesome test Todd and I’ll be testing monthly.

  37. jason

    151-175 pushup double czar
    176-200 pushup marathon runner
    201-225 pushup fire runner
    226-10000 pushup hell runner
    10001-1000000 pushup hell runner champ
    100000000000000+ pushup god

  38. Piyush Banerjee

    I did 128…initially i thought i would go beyond 150 but after the divebombers my shoulders felt like hell!!so i guess i m a Push up Czar,but since i m from India i will call myself a Push up Maharaja!!

  39. Tran

    total: 116

    aww i lost count at regular pushups so i will just count it as one lol :p my 1st try too 😀

  40. Shane

    56 total… Not bad!! I will be posting this to FB and tagging you buddy!!

  41. John

    I was able to do 96. My chest and shoulders are burning. 32, 12, 25, 10, 7, 10

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Awesome job John! I’d say you killed it!

  42. Strus

    Decline Push Ups: 10. Forehead to the floor
    Wide Push Ups: 3. Not tight enough after that 3rd repetition
    Hindu Push Ups: 0. No proper form, unfamiliar with this exsercise
    Knuckle Push Ups: 3 chest to the floor
    Regular Push Ups: 2 chest to the floor
    Knee Push Ups: 4 chest to the floor
    cadence: between 1 and 2 seconds up,pause, between 1 and 2 seconds down
    Total Score: 22 very honest to myself and quite sore.
    I train for handstand pushup now. Just 2x daily 1 set to failure of pike pushups for over a month.

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Love the honesty Strus. You now have a starting point. Are you part of our handstand facebook group?

  43. Zel

    Inspired from this post request:
    death by squats test?

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Yep, I was thinking about that myself. Maybe do a “Test of the Week”?

  44. Eric

    I did 32, 25, 7, 4, 5, 20 a total of 93.

    • Todd Kuslikis

      You da man Eric!

  45. German Fafian

    I thought I was in better shape
    57 Push Ups!

    35, 8, 5, 4, 5, 1

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Its great to know where you stand though right German?

  46. Danny

    69. This is tough. LOVE IT!!!

    • Todd Kuslikis


  47. Zel

    Wow! awesome challenge. I got 60 today. Knuckle push ups were the biggest challenge for me.

    • Todd Kuslikis

      I was doing finger tip today and boy do I realize I have to work on my finger tip strength. Good work Zel!

  48. lee sanderson

    42,18,10,11,10,17= 108.
    My arms were on fire by the end!!

    • Todd Kuslikis

      108! Great Lee!

  49. Paul

    Great test, I wil check myself again with this one. My wife witnessed, I got 27 and a half. I know now were I stand.

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Awesome Paul! Its nice to have a witness and adds inspiration too. 🙂

  50. Milan

    Nice challenge! 50, 20, 4, 10, 6, 7 .. a total of 97 … Hope to became Chieftain soon.. (:

    • Todd Kuslikis

      You are already a Chieftain in my eyes Milan! Way to go!

  51. Maoma

    Awesome challenge. My numbers were
    40,30,30,10,10,10 a total of 130.

    • Maoma

      By the way. Cheers from Sweden. Local time 22.25

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Wow Maoma! You killed the challenge!

  52. brandon

    Got 48, 18, 15, 15, 15, 15 (126)
    Of course not to make excuses but did 100 straight burpees in 5min 25sec about 10min before

    • Todd Kuslikis

      You’re a stud Brandon! Nice work.

  53. Gavin

    Great challenge. Only 60 today (lost it on the divebombers) but I’ve got my eye 75 now and moving up to the next level!

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Yep, Diverbombers are challenging. Nice work Gavin!

      • Gavin

        72 today – progress!

        Still a battler but snapping at the heels of commander. Doing sets of divebombers in isolation helped.

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