The D35 Challenge: Can You Get it Done by December 31?

By Chris Carmichael,
Founder and Head Coach of CTS

December did not get off to a good start for me. Maybe it was because Thanksgiving was November 28, six days later than it was in 2018. With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, family time, and lots of leftovers, I have only completed 3 hours of training so far this month. I figure I’m probably not alone in this predicament, so it’s time to launch The D35 Challenge!

If you have followed this blog for a while, you may remember the D40 Challenge from last year. We’ll knock it down by 5 hours this year because we’re starting on December 5, but we’re also adding a new feature (see below).

The D35 Challenge

Complete 35 hours of training plus 1000 pushups and 200 hours of sleep before the end of December.


The rules are simple. Any exercise counts toward the 35 hours. Count your pushups. Nights and naps count for sleep hours. Track your progress however you’d like.


Along the way, but especially when you are done, let people know what you’re doing by posting the D35 Badge (download badge) and/or photos to TwitterFacebook, or Instagram. Tag your posts with #D35 so I can find them. Find other athletes’ posts and leave encouraging comments. We’re all in this together!

Post shots from the road or trail, a shot of your TrainingPeaks calendar, your Strava training log, a screenshot of the Wahoo Fitness or Zwift app, or a bunch of other options. If you’re not a social media person, email photos to so we can give you some recognition.


This challenge is all about intrinsic motivation. There is no physical prize. You’re doing this for you, just like I’m doing it because the process of training makes me feel good.

Why 35 Hours?

Thirty-five hours is based on a 10-hours-per-week training plan over 3.5 weeks. A typical Time-Crunched Athlete normally completes about 8 hours of training per week, so increasing that to 10 hours is a stretch, but doable. It’s enough to provide a challenge and stimulate fitness gains, but not so over the top that it creates more workload than you should be doing right now.

What about the 1000 Pushups…?

To complete 1000 pushups in 3.5 weeks you need to do 38 per day, which we might as well round up to 40. That’s only four sets of 10 or two sets 20. Or, you can start off more slowly and ramp up to bigger or more frequent sets later in the month. Whichever way you choose, if you start you will feel stronger through your chest, triceps, and core when you complete your final sets on December 31.

Last year I racked up 1,850 pushups in the month of December, and the total number of pushups completed by the CTS Coaches was 23,435! We made it a competition between CTS Training Centers, and the winning center had to have the highest number of pushups-per-coach to account for differing team sizes. The Santa Ynez center won, led by the top individual finisher, Jason Siegle, who busted out 3,156 pushups. Jason Koop finished second overall and led the Colorado Springs team with 2,761, and Colin Izzard from the Brevard center stepped up for third place overall with 2,335.

Start by setting your goal at 1000 pushups before December 31, and then get others involved and make it a competition within your friends, family, or coworkers.

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And why 200 hours of sleep?

The 200 hours of sleep is a new addition to the December fitness challenges, but perhaps the most important. If you get between 7-8 hours of sleep per night, starting tonight through the night of December 30 (let’s not worry about New Year’s Eve…), and take a few naps here and there, you will accumulate 200 hours of sleep before the end of the year.

Consistent sleep is the absolute best thing you can do to improve your recovery between workouts, achieve positive adaptations from your training, and be more productive at work and at home. And being less run down helps keep your immune system strong. Yet, according to 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 35% of adults in the United States averaged fewer than 7 hours of sleep per 24 hours. And the age group with the highest prevalence of short sleep duration (39%) was the 45-54 age group.

Here are a couple of tips for getting to sleep and staying asleep:

  • Cool the environment. Turn down the heat at night so the room is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. This facilitates the natural and necessary reduction in core temperature at the onset of sleep.
  • Make it dark and quiet. The absence of light plays an important role in telling your brain and body it’s time for sleep. Heavier drapes can both help eliminate light and block sound. Remove chargers and other electronics that light up when they’re plugged in.
  • Calm yourself and declutter the environment. Turn off electronic devices about 90 minutes before bedtime. Use the time to unwind, meditate, or read (from a real book or a device without a backlit screen, or use a blue light filter). Decluttering your room removes distractions.
  • More tips: Here’s an article I wrote on the subject, and one from Coach Jason Koop.

Performance is more than training

The D35 Challenge centers on training, but it’s important to remember that there is more to performance than working out. Your lifestyle and nutritional choices make a huge difference. During the Holiday Season you are likely to over-indulge in a few (or more) ways. A lot of people increase their consumption of sugar, fat, and alcohol during December. Try not to be one of them.

Even if 35 hours and 1000 pushups represent an increased training workload and caloric expenditure, they are unlikely to completely cancel out the increased Holiday calorie intake. Indulging a bit less and training a bit more can go a long way toward narrowing the gap.

Athletes miss more workouts in December than any other month. If you want to have great form for spring and summer goals in 2020, you can’t backslide at the end of 2019. When you lose too much fitness from incomplete or haphazard training, it takes weeks or months just to get back to your current level (which is probably already lower than it was in September). Retaining or improving your fitness in December also provides a buffer against future interruptions, like an illness or injury or time-consuming work project.

Let’s Get Started!

Get started on your D35 Challenge today. I’m planning on getting out on the bike for 2 hours, doing sets of pushups before and after, and getting to bed by 9:30pm! Show me what you do, and remember to tag posts with #D35.

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Comments 6

  1. That’s a good motivation section, but my workout regime consist of weight lifting and my cardio I probably do it the D35 in one week. I’ll post this in my blog so my Facebook friends can make that challenge. If there’s is anything I can help let me know. My Cardio consist of biking and weight lifting all week, the only thing I can try from the sleep challenge since I break up my sleep work work night and sleep whenever I’ve the opportunity.

  2. I’m in. I’ve been really struggling with staying active while working around some injuries, so this will be a good extra nudge. I love the addition of the focus on sleep!

  3. Just excellent motivation ! Great idea , luckily I was already on my own Dec push-up challenge so I’m on track,…… I’ll give this a real good effort. 10 hours a week at this time will be the challenge ….. I’m in.
    Thanks Chris.

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