Line up, ladies! Hit the deck and give me twenty-two!

Remember the viral #22PushupChallenge in 2016? Maybe it’s time for it to go viral again. Also called the 22KILL Push-up Challenge was a social media campaign to promote awareness for veteran suicide prevention and to honor active military service members and veterans.

Push-up is among the general fitness exercises that emphasize the overall chest, triceps, and core strength, a vital skill a military man must improve. Besides, when you’re at boot camp, you’ll definitely do tons of those. And did I mention that the “right” form must be executed to a point too? That means no sagging or lagging, or drill Sargent will add another hundred more.

Even in deployment, service members frequently perform these exercises to maintain, if not improve, their form and strength. The same goes for veterans.

During most training, an enlistee is required to perform the military push-up, also known as the T-push-up, Dead-stop push-up, or, as the Army calls it, the Hand Release Push-up—and it’s not like your traditional pumping.

Accordingly, one must hit the ground with hands lying flat. Make sure that the hands will be under the shoulders, with your index finger barely inside the edges of your shoulders. Hips, thighs, and chest should fully touch the ground with your head upward. While waiting for the signal, ensure that both your feet are together so it’ll be easier to heave up. Focus your strength on both arms to push your body up, all while keeping your posture in a straight line. When lowering down, make sure you use your elbows and that your chest, hips, and thighs will touch the ground simultaneously. Extend your arms to the sides in the shape of a T.

There are different types of push-up requirements between the other branches of the military services, and the Hand Release Push-up is just one of them. But, this variation of push-up help eases tension on the joints and allows the body a brief relief before heaving up again.

If you want to build more on your shoulders, try doing the Wide-grip Push-ups. In addition, you can do the Close-grip for your triceps, while One-leg and Spider-Man (also hip mobility), if you want to enhance those abs. Moreover, you can power up your Push-ups by adding the Clap or executing the Eccentric, where the slow-motion movement helps muscle-lengthening and the sudden pump enable stimulus on the muscle. Other variations to choose from including the One-armed incline, which pressures your chest to work in an unbalanced state, and the Incline and Decline, working on the lower chest/triceps and upper chest/shoulders, respectively. Check out the demonstrations for each push-up here.

Story Behind #22PushupChallenge

#22PushupChallenge emerged in August 2016 as an online challenge inspired by alarming statistics revealing that 22 U.S. veterans committed suicide daily.

Over 800 soldiers from 20 nations participated in the 22 Push-up Challenge in Afghanistan in September 2016. (Source image: Wikimedia Commons)

According to Men’s Journal, the challenge’s name was paying homage to 22KILL. This suicide prevention non-profit organization aims to spread mental health awareness, particularly to U.S. military veterans and active military members. The organization was launched following 2012 statistics released by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) stating that an average of 22 American veterans commit suicide daily. While the number certainly changed over the years, the core issue remains the same.

A 2021 VA report, however, showed us a hopeful decline in “the overall veteran suicide count and the rate decreased in 2019 from 2018 and from 2017.”

“In 2019, among the average 17.2 Veteran suicides per day, an estimated 6.8 suicides per day were among those with VHA (Veterans Health Administration) encounters in 2018 or 2019, whereas 10.4 per day were among Veterans with no VHA encounter in 2018 or 2019,” it reported. In addition, “the unadjusted suicide rates were seen highest among Veterans ages 18-34 (44.4 per 100,000). The unadjusted rate decreased 12.8% for female Veterans in 2019 compared to 2018, and decreased 3.6% for male Veterans in 2019 compared to 2018.”

Like the viral sensation #IceBucketChallenge, the basic concept of the 22 Push-up challenge is to record a video of you hitting the deck and doing 22 push-ups (instead of pouring a bucket of ice) and post it on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Then, add the hashtag and brief information about the awareness, as well as tagging friends that keep the challenge rolling. Some take it to the next level by doing the 22 push-ups for 22 consecutive days or weeks.

A couple of celebrities participated in the trend in 2016, such as Chris Pratt, John Krasinski, and Scott Eastwood, who all tagged their friends to join the challenge.

Recently, a Milwaukeean content creator is among the many who are shedding light on the challenge once again to continue the advocacy and awareness it established six years ago.