The two-minute push-up test is often used as one of the entry requirements to the Army, Navy and police forces. The test is designed to measure upper body strength endurance, says UK Athletics coach Brian Mackenzie. A score of 50 push-ups in two minutes would be classed as excellent for men and women of all ages under the American College of Sports Medicine Guidelines and would be enough to pass basic combat training for the Army. Performing 50 push-ups in two minutes is not an easy task, but is achievable with the right approach.
Warm up thoroughly before attempting any push-ups. Start with five minutes of light cardiovascular work, such as walking, jogging or cycling to get your blood flowing and your muscles warmed up. Work your arms by performing dynamic movements such as forward or backward arm swings. You want your upper body to be suitably prepared, but not overworked -- two to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions on knee push-ups or standing wall push-ups is an ideal way to finish your warm-up without fatiguing your muscles.
Learn how to use perfect technique. Not only will using the correct form greatly reduce your risk of injury, it will also improve your performance. Most people think of push-ups as just working the chest, shoulders and triceps, but to optimize your technique, you need to think of them as a whole-body exercise, writes Eric Cressey, owner of Cressey Performance, Massachusetts, in his book "Maximum Strength." Keep your core and butt muscles clenched tight to increase stabilization and your elbows tucked in to avoid shoulder injuries.
Build up to your goal gradually. If you haven't done push-ups in a while, or can only do 10, 20 or 30 in one go, you won't be able to make it to 50 in two minutes overnight. Start by doing five sets of push-ups each day, performing around 70 percent of your maximum reps in each one. So if you can do 20 push-ups, do sets of 14 push-ups. Over time, increase the number of reps you do each day, until you can do multiple sets of 40 reps. By this time you should be ready to attempt 50 in two minutes. Have a training partner time you and monitor your form.
- Ask someone to check your form to make sure it complies with the test guidelines.