7 Ways to Win Any Step Challenge—Plus Two Tactics That Won’t Work

step challenges competitor

If you haven’t taken part in a Fitbit step challenge, what are you waiting for? Whether you’re motivated by competition (invite friends and family to an official Challenge, join a group, or track your spot on your seven-day friends leaderboard) or would rather just compete against yourself (start an Adventure), there’s something for everyone.

Plus, internal research shows that people who participate in both Fitbit Adventures and Challenges walk 2,000 more steps per day than those who haven’t participated in a challenge. So even if you lose, you win. (Sometimes literally: Participating in weekly challenges helped one user drop 50 pounds!)

There’s really no downside to giving Fitbit step challenges a shot. But if you’re going to compete, you might as well try to win, right? Below, seven ways to set yourself up for success, plus two tactics that aren’t worth your time.  

How to Dominate Step Challenges

Opt into updates. When it comes to time-based step challenges, knowledge is power. Knowing where you and your competition stand not only provides motivation but also gives you a short-term goal to shoot for. There are a few ways to get more info.

First, after you join a Fitbit Challenge, click “Options” at the top right of your Fitbit app and make sure “Do Not Disturb” is turned off. This will allow updates to come through.

Next, log in to your fitbit.com dashboard and click the gear icon in the top right. Select “Settings” then “Notifications”. Now choose to get alerts via your mobile phone, email, or both (depending on what’s possible) for the following three things: low battery, step goal milestones, and cheers and taunts. Now you’ll never be caught off guard.

Turn on Reminders to Move. Your Fitbit tracker or smartwatch can be set to give you a gentle vibrational nudge 10 minutes before each hour if you haven’t taken 250 steps. Just select the Hourly Activity tile on your dashboard and then the gear icon in the top right corner. Turn Reminders to Move on and then adjust the hours and days it’s active—the more the better.

Set extra alerts. Taking 250 steps an hour is really the minimum amount you should be moving. Schedule more walking time into your day by adding it to an electronic calendar. If you own a Fitbit Alta, Fitbit Alta HR, Fitbit Charge 2, Fitbit Versa, or Fitbit Ionic and turn calendar notifications on, your device will alert you when it’s time to walk.

Multi-task. Building more movement into your day doesn’t have to be completely pre-planned. Instead, just rethink common activities. Brushing your teeth? Do it while you walk. Have to take a phone call? Pace the halls. Watching TV? Walk during commercial breaks.

Interact with your competition. Challenge participants can see each other’s profile photo, posted messages, total steps in the challenge, goal progress, and achievements. Use this to your advantage by cheering other people on and leaving them encouraging messages (they may do the same for you!) or taunt them with some friendly trash talk. The more active and involved your competitors are, the more likely you will be, too.

Always carry your phone. Why? If you ever forget your tracker or it runs out of batteries, you can turn on MobileTrack. MobileTrack lets you use the Fitbit app without a Fitbit tracker by using your phone’s sensors to track basic activity data, including steps, distance, and calories burned. Just log into the app, tap or click the Account icon, choose the option for setting up a new device and follow the MobileTrack instructions.

Turn on all-day sync. Or at least get in the habit of syncing via your phone. Here’s why: After a Challenge ends you have 12 additional hours to sync your tracker, and chances are you’re more likely to be near your phone than a computer.

If you prioritize staying on top of your friends leaderboard know that the time cutoff is even tighter. This leaderboard represents a rolling seven-day step total. So it takes into account the total steps you’ve taken over the previous six days plus anything you’ve done today. At midnight, the 7th day drops off and your next day begins counting toward your total. Competitors syncing through a phone have a distinct advantage over people who need to be near a computer to update their totals.

Two Step-Challenge Cheater Tactics That Won’t Work

Shortening your stride length. The leaderboard step count totals are only based off the number of steps counted by your Fitbit device or MobileTrack. Stride length does not in any way affect step count. In fact, it’s only used to calculate distance.

Manually entering steps. Manually logging extra steps and activities will not count towards your leaderboards, activity groups, or challenges. This is to help deter the small number of users who may be tempted to cheat. However, if you did do some extra stepping and want to manually log them, you’ll still get credit on your dashboard and activities page.

How do you stay competitive during Fitbit step challenges? Share in the comments below.

24 Comments   Join the Conversation

24 CommentsLeave a comment

  • What a hassle to deal with all of us the changes. I don’t like all of those annoying reminders. Thumbs down and

  • I was turned off to these challenges by the majority of over competitive idiots who disable their sync. They get all of the updates as to everyone else’s steps and can outpace them and finally sync at the last minute for the win. WTH, this is supposed to motivate us to walk more, it does the opposite. SMH

    • I’m also massively turned off by challenges for the current set up. My step goal is lower then most people’s but is good for me personally. It’s pretty discouraging being at the bottom ALL the time, especially with the fitness fanatic, overly competitive ones constantly telling others to step it up like we are being lazy. We need to be put into groups or something.

      • You might want to consider a goal day challenge. If my step goal is 6000 and yours to 8000 we both are motivated to hit our predetermined goal.

  • I am thankful for the reminders. I get so caught up in editing photos and videos. Reminders to walk help relieve some of the work stress.

  • As I first got my charge 2, I assumed that the adventures were just like badges, to be earned through doing a certain amount of steps anywhere. Then it turns out they’re routed walks, which is all fine… If you’re on the same continent. Fitbit is seriously lacking integration for non US users I dare say. No usable food database, no adventures… What it does well though I must say is track my steps, sleep etc, which is why I got it in the first place. Some European based content though, would be much appreciated. I’ll drink to that – water of course… And log it 🙂

  • As to the two people who don’t like the challenges… you need to find people who are at your level so you are not always at the bottom. I have left challenges where people seem to be “cheating”, and don’t do them with those individuals. I have found a great group of people who are at my level, and play fair and we have a lot of fun “trash talking”. Try again and see if it gets better for you.

    • I totally agree with you Debra. I was in a challenge with someone who consistently did 60000 steps a day every day! It was very demotivating for me for someone to do what I might do in a week, in 1 day.
      Anyway I found a really fun challenging group where anyone could win if they step it up and the trash-talking is so much fun

  • As to the two people who don’t like the challenges… you need to find people who are at your level so you are not always at the bottom. I have left challenges where people seem to be “cheating”, and don’t do them with those individuals. I have found a great group of people who are at my level, and play fair and we have a lot of fun “trash talking”. Try again and see if it gets better for you.

  • Unfortunately it appears that Fitbit believes their device should only be used by persons who are already FIT!!!. I am 70 years old, recently had posterior tibialis tendon surgery. I know many older people including some who have knee replacements, hip replacements, arthritis, are overweight who are getting your product. Can’t you develop starter challenges, or alternate exercise challenges for people with health issues, disabilities or are recovering from surgeries such as mine? That would help older people and people with physical or other health problems get fit and stay that way.

    • I also am using it to get more fit, not to run the Marathon, just to stay active as long as I can, Thanks for the comment.

    • You don’t have to do the challenges at speed, I pootle along at my own pace alone, or with my sister and just enjoy the landmark photos when I get to them. I find that the motivate me to do a little extra, just to get to the next landmark.

  • Why does the fitbit Alta monitor steps based on arm movement and not leg movement? If i move my arm it tracks steps. If i am walking and not moving the arm with my fitbit, it doesn’t register the syeps.

  • I haven’t had the weekly status reports for the past 2 weeks, neither has my granddaughter, what’s happened to them?

  • I haven’t got emailed weekly status reports for the past 2 weeks, nor has my granddaughter. What’s happened to them?

  • I have always wanted to know who my partner really was cause my husband has turned to another thing though it got me worried he has been talking to someone on the phone lately and i was not comfortable so i went online then i contacted Dylan to help me hack into his phone without physical access and this great hacker made things work he gave me results before 24 hours i got to see my husband whats-app, text messages, call logs, Vibe, deleted text messages, Instant chat and many more then i saw that my husband has been sleeping around with different women, i was so disappointed but am happy that i found out the truth. He’s time conscious and reliable..check him out through his website w w w. P R O C Y B E R H E L P . C O M or email PRO CYBER HELP (at) GM AIL (dot) C OM and you won’t be disappointed. Thank me later.

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