All right, can confirm.
This is gonna suck.
What’s up everybody?
Clay Skipper from GQ here.
Maybe you saw me get smoked in NBA three point competition.
Perhaps you saw me nail free kick.
Now like many of you, I would imagine,
I’m isolated inside, here at home.
But now since I can’t go to the gym,
I don’t have any fancy equipment here at home,
I’ve turned to the most classic,
old fashioned body weight exercise of all time.
If you guys have spent any time in any sort of
fitness rabbit hole on YouTube,
you know that there are a ton of push-up videos out there.
Starting today, we’re gonna see how many push-ups I can do.
And then we’re gonna see how many more push-ups
I can do with two weeks of training.
And, as is always the case with these challenges,
I’m gonna try very hard to not embarrass myself
or bring great shame upon my family.
01:01[Clay releases breath]
01:04[electronic music plays]
All right, it’s day one.
Before we start this thing,
we need to know how many push-ups I can do.
So, we’re gonna give that a shot and
So before this, I did a little research to
have a standard to measure myself against.
For all you aspiring journalists out there,
it’s important to do your research so you can grow up
and get paid to do push-ups on camera.
And here are the base requirements for everything
from a New York City cop to a Navy Seal.
A New York City cop has to do 27 to 34 continuous push-ups
to pass the fitness test.
A New York City fireman must do 30 push-ups in one minute.
For the U.S. army, for basic training,
you have to do 31 push-ups in two minutes.
Advanced infantry has to do 40 push-ups in two minutes.
Army rangers have to do 58 push-ups in two minutes.
These are all minimum requirements.
And the Navy Seals only have to do 42 minimum
in two minutes, but that’s the minimum requirement.
To actually be competitive and be accepted into Buds,
you have to do 80 to 100 in two minutes.
See how I stack up, see if I’m more of a New York City cop,
or a potential Navy Seal.
I think it’s gonna be closer to a New York City cop.
Realizing I was gonna need some help for this challenge,
I called up Nike trainer and
GQ Wellness columnist, Joe Holder.
First ask is just simply max push-up.
I wanna know how many push-ups can you just max do.
All right, you ready?
02:32[high intensity rhythmic music]
02:51[Joe] None of those push-ups in the beginning
would have counted.
None of them would’ve?
02:56[Joe] Not like the first 20.
You didn’t go all the way up.
03:01[Joe] Clay, this is what we gonna do, bud.
We gonna re-establish the rules, make it easier
A full push-up is all the way up,
it’s not, in the beginning, you feeling good,
I’m not even tired.
03:21[Joe] Item two is that, it either has to be
a controlled tempo or, if you stop for longer than
three seconds, or put your knees down, okay, you’re done.
That’s it, all right?
I love that attitude and I think it’s a good message
for people who might follow along with this program at home.
No cheating, we will all hold ourselves accountable here
Okay, so first things first, since we’re doing push-ups.
You know, a lot of people in quarantine, in isolation,
all they’ve got is their body weight and a push-up is,
like, the most classic old fashioned body weight exercise.
Why is it, what does it work and why is it such a good
sort of functional exercise?
Main components, specifically shoulders, chest,
but then it gets into your back a little bit
because a push is also a pull,
you gotta stabilize into your back, and
your total core which is your torso.
So, and then, also, you start to slightly fatigue,
it brings into it a component of endurance and
muscular endurance and stability.
Why do you think it is that guys are so obsessed with
I mean, not just guys, but like, fitness people in general.
Why are they so obsessed with doing push-ups?
Like if you go on YouTube, you see that [mumbles].
It isn’t really guys, I mean,
it’s a few things, it’s that,
one, look at all the old movies, like
when you start training, what do people start doing?
They start doing push-ups.
Old school Rocky or somebody that just starts,
or you see like the little nerd that’s trying to get strong,
like doing a push-up.
It’s something that everybody can relate to.
I just think there’s always something fun when you can
With body weight exercises, if I can do more push-ups
than you, I can do more push-ups than you.
If I’m faster than you, I’m faster.
If I can jump higher than you, I can jump higher than you.
So base levels, I think of humans that just rely on
human athleticism always have a special place.
All right, so, time to put money where the mouth is.
Let’s talk about the plan, Joe,
let’s see what you’ve come up with for me to get me
prepared in two weeks.
We’re gonna keep the plan pretty simple, all right?
Two weeks is not that long, but there is a lot of
different components that we’re gonna need to improve.
So it’s basically gonna be a multifaceted aspect
that goes into both your base-level athleticism
but also technique.
The standard way which a lot of trainers when training
look at the progression, specifically, you’re going
endurance, stability, strength, power.
So that’s like the ladder up.
So the key ways that we’ll improve the push-ups
to make it super simple is, we’ll do muscular endurance
circuits with push-ups, we’ll do strength oriented work
So if you have a bag in the house, okay, if you can
fill that with, say, water bottles, if you can fill,
typically water bottles will be the easiest thing,
Then the other way will be improving it by tempos.
So tempos will basically, instead of just going down up,
down up, you’re always stronger on the way down
That’s called your eccentric motion to exercise.
So on the way down, you can control yourself.
’cause you’re not working against gravity,
it’s all about control.
So if you do eccentric focused work, that’s also a way
to improve your strength.
And the third way that will improve your strength,
and more so power, is by doing explosive work.
So you need to make sure you’re doing explosive work
probably coupled with some isometric holds in the
middle of push-ups, okay?
‘Cause those two things will work on your
power and your stability.
Two weeks, how much do you think someone should,
with the training program you’re gonna give me
in a few minutes, how much should someone be able
to improve in two weeks, with two weeks training?
Of course, the higher you go, the harder it is.
If you can only do ten push-ups, this program gets you
over a hundred percent increase in the amount of push-ups
The average person should be able to increase their
push-up capacity by at least 20 percent.
So I did roughly 45 ish so I’m gonna shoot for 55, 60.
What are you talking about?
You didn’t do 45 push-ups.
07:06[Clay and Joe laugh]
I said 45 ish, Joe.
All right, well I appreciate you Joe.
Hopefully I will make you proud and
I’ll respond to your emails, I promise.
All right guys, I got my first workout from Coach Joe.
Today’s workout is something called
eccentric loaded push series.
And, so what that is gonna be,
it’s gonna be working on the eccentric phase
So when you’re going down, that’s the eccentric phase.
And when you’re pushing up that’s the concentric phase.
And so for this, it’s gonna be five sets of
10 eccentric push-ups, so I’m gonna
lower down slowly for five seconds, with a
brief pause at the bottom, but not pressing my chest
to the ground, and push back up.
10 of those, followed by 10 normal tempo push-ups.
So just, down up, down up.
20 push-ups total, and then I’ll take,
I got my handy watch here to keep the time.
I’ll take 90 seconds to two minutes of rest,
and then I’ll do it four more times.
All right, can confirm.
This is gonna suck.
08:17[background electronic music plays]
All right, day two of the Isolation
Above Average Joe workout program.
Coach Joe has asked me to bring on
some friends today, so he wants me to fill up
this backpack with 20 to 40 pounds of weight.
I think this is between 20 and 40 pounds of weight.
I’d say it’s about 30.
All right, it’s a push-up strength program today.
So, three to five sets of a lot of push-ups.
I’m going to do three to five sets of
a sort of decreasing ladder of push-ups.
What that means is I’m gonna try for
16 reps and we’re gonna take 15 30-seconds rest,
and we’ll try 14 reps and we’re gonna take 15
and we’ll try for 12 reps and we’ll ladder all the way down
by two to two reps.
So that is one set.
We’re gonna try for three to five sets,
three minutes of rest in between.
All right, day three.
Today is a volume day.
So, Joe has me doing eight sets of 20 push-ups
with 60 to 90 seconds rest in between.
I didn’t do any of it yet.
09:27[background electronic music plays]
Hey what’s up GQ family?
It is day four of the push-up challenge.
We are going to do the eccentric push-up series
that we did a couple days ago.
We did five sets of that.
Today we’re gonna try to do three more sets,
so that’s gonna be eight sets total.
I struggled last time, so we’ll see if I’ve
09:47[electronic music plays]
All right, day five.
Today we are doing the backpack strength workout
that we did a few days ago.
We’re gonna try to up the sets.
So if you remember, I filled this backpack with
anywhere from between 20 and 40 pounds of weight
and then I did 16 reps of push-ups and then
went down by two all the way to two,
taking 15 30-seconds rest in between.
That was way too ambitious, so today I’m probably
starting 12 reps, go down to 10, eight, six, four, two.
And then I’m gonna take three minute rest.
And we’re gonna go for, Joe asked me to up my sets
by three, so, last time I did five sets,
today I’m gonna try for eight sets.
10:27[background electronic music plays]
48 minutes, workout five, cheers.
Halfway point, Coach Joe.
It’s good to see you.
This is my preferred method of communication,
as opposed to you sending me a horrid push-up workout
that I have to do via text.
I’m curious how you would rate the intensity
of the workouts you’ve given me.
Naw, those workouts are pretty hard.
But the thought process just was to, like,
overwhelm you really quickly, and then give you a
You shouldn’t have really worked out the past two days.
Something really interesting has been happening to me,
or happened to me on Saturday when I was doing the
eccentric workout, I think.
‘Cause, I feel like, there is, ’cause we were talking
about this a little bit, off camera, but there’s like a
psychological aspect to it, where I was doing the push-ups
and I got to the point where I usually, like, quit,
’cause I feel like I can’t do anymore.
And then I kept pushing and I actually could keep going,
and I actually did like five or six more.
And it was like a total psychological thing where I
had thought I had hit my physical barrier,
but it was just ’cause, like, I was used to that
pain threshold, and when I actually pushed, I could
actually still do more.
That was like a super interesting breakthrough
Yeah, I mean, that’s half the part,
that’s half the point of practice.
It’s not just to push your physical capabilities,
but also mental capabilities.
One, you’re getting in better shape,
but also, you grow through a previously
understood plateau to then keep going
to set a different benchmark.
You’re expanding your comfort zone.
And now your body’s like, oh shit,
I can do that, that’s totally fine.
Whereas, versus before, it may have seemed unfathomable.
And then those small aggregations then add up.
So that’s the whole point of these workouts,
is to, for lack of a better term, trying to
12:57[bleep] with you a little bit.
Just be like, yo, I can actually do this.
There’s certain things that I didn’t think I could do,
there’s certain things that I can.
And this is fun, so it’s like play.
Like, all of it’s just play.
All right, well on that note, I guess I should
give us the ole halfway test, see how many I can do
and that’ll give us a benchmark for next week,
for the final showdown.
This is why we pay you the big bucks,
to watch me do push-ups on camera.
Uh, yeah, please tell me if I’m not
going all the way up.
13:34[Joe] A little higher, but you’re good at this point.
13:38[rhythmic music continues]
13:49[Joe mumbles] Breathing.
Oh I miss my metronome.
14:16[music drowns out what Joe is saying]
14:19[Joe] C’mon, c’mon.
14:21[Joe] Push to the ground, push, push, push, push.
14:30[Joe] C’mon let’s go, push, push, push.
Those were real push-ups, you feel the difference?
Definitely not easy to do 49 of those.
14:47[Joe] How you feelin’?
Terrible, I thought I would, you know,
All right, Joe, so having seen those 40,
will we change anything for the next week?
Or still stick with the same program?
Or what’s the plan?
Naw, I think if you continue to do the program you can go.
I think it’s gotten you really strong and more comfortable.
All right man, well I will see you on Zoom in a week.
And we will see if I can get, conservatively, 45, and
All right man, be well.
Week two, here we go.
We are on the second week of the Above Average Joe push-up
challenge and we’re gonna start with a volume day of
eight sets of 20 push-ups, with 60 to 90 seconds rest
in between and five minutes rest, and do it all again.
All right folks, back for another day.
We are doing eccentric push-ups, as you know
’cause I’ve done them three times.
It’s where I lower for five seconds,
push back up, 10 of those.
Immediately followed by 10 regular tempo push-ups.
We’re gonna go for eight sets,
resting for 90 seconds to two minutes in between.
Little help from the cheering partner?
15:56[Woman] You can do it!
We’re three days away now from the final
push-up challenge and today we are doing a strength day.
You guys are familiar with that at this point.
Books go in the bag, and then I try to do some push-ups
starting at 12 laddering down to two by twos,
so 12 then eight, six, four, two.
Eight sets of that, with three minute rest.
Volume day, hopefully it’ll last.
Volume day of training, that is
when I do the eight sets of 15-20 push-ups,
with 60 to 90 seconds rest in between.
Take a five minute rest,
then do another eight sets of 15 to 20 push-ups.
Volume day complete.
Next time I see you guys will be for the
final challenge, so see you guys tomorrow.
Coach Joe, welcome back man.
I’m gonna set the bar at,
I’m gonna be happy with 45.
I’m gonna set 50 because of what we talked about last time.
Don’t overthink it, like, it’s push-ups.
People honestly don’t realize how hard push-ups are though.
So, but, I think you got, you got 45, man.
Joe, don’t overthink it man?
I couldn’t sleep last night, thinking about this.
Who is coming to cheer you on?
I knew that if I wanted to do the most push-ups
that I could do, I needed a cheering section.
So I invited some family and friends to Zoom in.
All right, let’s set up this challenge.
Should we get some predictions from the crowd real quick?
How many are you supposed to do?
All right, 45 on the button.
All right, Hayden, that’s my nephew.
Hayden, how many do you think I can do?
He doesn’t even know how to say 40 yet.
All right so this is it, two weeks of training.
Joe Holder’s program is on the line here.
We’ll see if it really works.
As long as I beat Alex’s 39, I’ll be happy.
19:27[Clay’s Mom] C’mon Clay.
Up, up, up, up, up.
19:36[cheering] C’mon, c’mon Clay
Okay I’m done, ugh.
In two weeks, you said you should be able to see
at least a 10 percent increase, which, you did more
than that ’cause the first week you really only did
I would say about 33 to 35 true push-ups.
And you went up to 44, 45.
That’s 10, you know, that’s 10 plus percent.
I was feeling great at 20.
I don’t know what happened.
You did better than when you first started.
You did better than you did last week.
And to be honest, that’s the thing that comes with
What makes it very difficult is that when you have a very
short time to get better at something that is max output,
it’s relatively hard.
So that’s not an insignificant increase.
So, I would, my thing to say is don’t stop.
I would, especially ’cause they’re push-ups.
I would say keep going and really see how many
you can end up doing.
And I would say, probably, in two to four weeks
you could probably end up doing 50 plus.
Thank you guys for coming out.
I don’t know if that counts as a victory or not.
I think technically I’m one short,
which makes me one for four on Above Average Joe challenges
but a few more episodes and we’ll try to up that percentage.
All right, that is a wrap on the
Above Average Joe push-up challenge.
Final number is 44.
I feel pretty good about that.
At the start, I was doing 49, which, as Joe pointed out
was probably closer to 30.
After a week of his training, I did 40.
And then after another week of training, I did 44.
So, that does show improvement.
I did hit the 10 to 15 percent benchmark
I remember at the beginning of this I listed
sort of some of the requirements for different
levels of cops, firemen, and the like.
And I think I beat cop, fireman, basic training
and advance infantry.
Seals, I remember was 42 in two minutes
which I technically hit but to be competitive
it’s really like 90 to 100.
And I think the Army rangers was like 49 to 58,
so I was just short of that.
I don’t know how many push-ups I did in the last two weeks.
I would guess somewhere between 1200 and 1600 but
the good producers of the show will add that up
and put it right here, I hope.
And yeah, that’s it.
I definitely think I got stronger.
I think the program works.
Thank you guys for tuning in and watching,
spending too much time with me in my apartment.
And if you did it along at home,
I hope you saw some improvement.
Maybe throw your max number of push-ups in the comments.
Although if you did more than 44, maybe don’t do that.
And yeah, we’ll see you on the next episode of
Everyone stay safe and healthy and be well.
I gotta cut that part or they’ll keep it.
22:33[electronic music plays]