Can you do 50 push-ups in a row?
2 push-ups…on your knees? Or standing and leaning against a wall?
You might not be able to do 50 push-ups right now, but if you have working legs and arms, there’s a push-up you can do. And you should start doing 2 push-ups every day.
Why should you do 2 push-ups?
Here’s the secret. The goal is not to build big muscles, though that may happen. The goal is not to help you lose weight, though that may happen too. The goal is not to ‘get fit’, though that may also happen.
The goal is to build a habit.
The Habit Secret — Start Small
How do you build a powerful daily habit?
Author BJ Fogg writes about this extensively in his book Tiny Habits. He even describes his own process of developing a push-up habit. I highly recommend reading his book. In the meantime, here’s the 2-minute summary.
Find the habit you want to start and make it super-easy. In this case, it’s doing 2 push-ups, whatever form it takes to get them done.
Set up your prompt. For a daily habit, you need a daily prompt. Your prompt could be an alarm, an existing daily habit, or something else to trigger your memory (for help to get started, sign up below and I’ll send you a daily email prompt for 2 weeks).
BJ Fogg used a trip to the bathroom as his cue to do pushups. You find what works best for you.
Celebrate! After you do your 2 push-ups, find a way to celebrate. Do not skip this step!
Do a fist pump, a big smile; high-five someone; take a big breath and let it out; do a victory dance. Whatever you do, it has to make you feel good. This is what locks in the habit.
The Challenge: 2 Push-ups for 2 Weeks
OK, have you set up your prompt? Have you picked a celebration? Have you written it down?
“After I wake up and shower, I will do two push-ups. I’ll celebrate with a big smile in the mirror!”
“After my 9am alarm goes off, I will do two push-ups. After I’m done, I’ll celebrate with a fist pump. “
“Right before lunch, I will do two push-ups. I’ll celebrate with a small piece of dark chocolate.”
Here’s the challenge: do this every day for 2 weeks. Mark your progress and track it.
Don’t Forget — Keep it Small!
You might be able to knock out 10, 20, or 30 push-ups right out of the gate.
Don’t do this.
Remember, you’re not building your muscles — not yet, at least; you’re building a habit. If you start out doing as many push-ups as you can, you’ll be more likely to make your new habit feel more formidable. As days go on, you’ll be more likely to quit.
Keep it to two push-ups — at least for several days. The goal is to keep it so simple that it’s never too difficult to do this habit. Even when life gets crazy, you can always achieve victory with your habit.
Advanced option: If you already have high push-up-doing ability, try doing a one-armed push-up. This is much more challenging, but can also be made easy with one rep, and using an incline (or knees). However, remember, the main goal in the next two weeks is to form the habit.
Iterate and Grow
Stick with 2 push-ups a day for two weeks. During this time, refine your habit. You might have found your initial prompt was not as effective as you hoped. That’s OK, experiment and find a new prompt.
Maybe you didn’t like the celebration you picked. Iterate and find one that works for you.
After 2 weeks, you’ll have found the rhythm that works in your life. But don’t stop there. Let your habit grow. This is where the power of the habit kicks in.
After you’ve locked in doing 2 push-ups, start doing 3. Then 4. Then 5. You’ll know how to increase, because the next incremental step will seem relatively easy.
And if life gets in the way, no worries — just keep the habit going and do your baseline habit of 2 push-ups.
Your push-up habit will work like compound interest. A few dollars invested every day, compounded over years will eventually gain you millions. Your push-ups will do the same.
You got this!