The push-up is one of the most fascinating exercises in the world. On the one hand, It’s so challenging that one-third of a survey conducted on 1,400 Americans believed they’d struggle to complete just five push-ups in a row.
On the other hand, the humble push-up is considered a very basic display of upper-body fitness. You won’t get anywhere near a career in professional sports or the armed forces if you can’t bang out dozens of airtight push-ups at once.
As such, the 100-push-ups-a-day protocol remains a coveted benchmark for anyone intent on getting in fighting shape. So, if you want to explore just how beneficial it is to log three digits worth of push-ups a day, you’ve come to the right place.
How to Do the Push-Up
Before you can do 100 push-ups, you need to know how to do one push-up. This is the progression of steps you should follow in order to execute a picture-perfect push-up:
Assume a standard face-down plank position, with a fully straightened and extended body, and a stable base.
Station your feet together with your toes touching the ground.
Place your palms flat on the floor at the level of your chest, and plant them slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Make sure that your arms are straight while you maintain your head in a neutral position with your eyes looking slightly ahead of your body.
Lower your chest to the ground by bending at your elbows and maintain control over your body and its alignment.
Preserve the straight line from your shoulders right through your spine and legs and down to your heels as you lower your torso to the ground.
Pause briefly at the bottom of the movement when your chest makes contact with the floor without relaxing your core.
Press yourself back to your starting position.
How to Program 100 Push-Ups a Day
When it comes to high-volume bodyweight training, the key is to pace yourself. Even someone who can bench three plates would burn themselves to a crisp if they tried to do all 100 in a single set.
Your best bet is to break this task down into small, manageable chunks. Think as few as 10 push-ups every hour, or five every half-hour — whatever you need to do to ensure sound technique and consistent performance.
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As you gain strength and muscular endurance, you can look toward performing more push-ups in a single set. Five sets of 20 push-ups every fifteen minutes would get the job done pretty quickly.
Is It Safe to Do 100 Push-Ups a Day?
As far as exercises go, push-ups are among the safest. Your hands rest in a fixed position on a stable surface while all of the weight of the exercise is provided by your own body. If you maintain proper form, your risk of injury is quite low.
However, rapidly amping up your training volume can insert a level of risk into the equation; think overuse injuries like tendinitis or chronic soreness. Research indicates that after you’ve broken your muscles down through training, they undergo a 48-hour process of reconstruction. (1)
Continually breaking down the same muscles every day without providing them with adequate muscle recovery time will limit your opportunities for maximum size and strength gains and may cross over into dangerous territory if you’re unacclimated to physical exercise.
Beyond this, it is also risky to perform challenging variations of the push-up before your body is strong enough to withstand them. Graduating to diamond push-ups, archer push-ups, or typewriter push-ups too quickly could place you in a compromising position if your muscles and joints are collectively unprepared to contend with the challenge they present.
All that to say, your best and safest option is to gradually work up toward 100 daily push-ups over time before making it a daily routine. Performing 20, then 30, then 40 push-ups every other day is a good option until you can hit 100. Then, try 100 push-ups on two sequential days before taking some rest. If you’re patient and tolerant, your body will eventually acclimate to the demand.
How Long Should You Do 100 Push-Ups a Day?
As long as you’re wary of overtraining risks, there’s no concrete rule for a duration of time in which you should complete 100 push-ups each day. Case in point, football player, professional wrestler, and actor Woody Strode — for whom the famous cowboy doll Woody from the film Toy Story was named — was famous for doing at least 200 push-ups each day in four sets of 50.
In fact, Strode famously maintained both this training regimen and his chiseled chest from the time he was in college well into his 60s.
If doing 100 push-ups per day motivates you to stay active each day, and if you can remain injury free, there is no compelling reason for you to ever stop doing so. On top of that, if you happen to be employed in a profession that requires you to prove your muscular endurance by completing as many push-ups as possible, there is arguably no better way to establish your preparedness than by completing push-ups in high volume on a frequent basis.
Benefits of Doing 100 Push-Ups a Day
In addition to maintaining a killer pec pump on a near-constant basis, you stand to gain quite a bit in terms of general fitness by making 100 push-ups as regular as brushing your teeth. Here’s what’s on offer:
More Upper Body Strength
The push-up is the bedrock of upper-body training for a reason. Researchers commonly use it as a means of evaluating strength and general fitness. For instance, one study used push-up performance to predict bench press strength. (2)
Their data illustrated that proficiency in the push-up directly correlated with bench press strength, albeit up to a point. However, what is clear is that mastery over your own body via the push-up should result in higher power output in comparable exercises.
Improved Muscular Endurance
One of the reasons push-ups are so widely utilized as an all-purpose fitness testing tool is because they force you to use your chest, shoulder and triceps muscles to repeatedly press yourself off of the floor while your core strains to maintain proper alignment.
Realistically, you’re doing two very different exercises at once: While all of your muscles responsible for pushing movements are firing away, your abdominals will be struggling to hold your body in a tight line. All of this adds up to one heck of an endurance workout, especially for your abs, simply due to the tremendous amount of time spent under tension.
Better Body Awareness
You can’t afford to slack off mentally, even on your sixty-seventh push-up of the day. For instance, dipping your pelvis during push-ups will eliminate the engagement of your abs and shorten the range of motion of your arms. Similarly, executing push-ups with your hands positioned higher than the rest of the body reduces the percentage of body weight being lifted, while propping up your feet increases it.
The more time you spend in a push-up position, the greater your overall awareness of body positioning during training becomes. You will rapidly learn that whenever your body is arched, slumped, elevated, or angled, it influences the muscles involved in your push-ups and the overall ease or difficulty of completing them. As a result, you’ll learn to identify how such positional modifications to your body can alter the effects you feel during other training movements as well.
Drawbacks of Doing 100 Push-Ups a Day
The ultimate drawback to doing 100 ordinary push-ups a day is that it may eventually not be enough to provide you with indefinite muscular strength or hypertrophy. Adhere diligently enough, for long enough, and it may not be too long before 100 push-ups — completed in a single set no less — doesn’t tax your chest, anterior deltoids or triceps to the point of failure. In essence, 100 daily push-ups might come to feel more like a long warm-up than a real workout.
Furthermore, high-repetition calisthenics training doesn’t fall neatly into the broad parameters of hypertrophy or strength training. Sets of eight in the push-up (a common hypertrophy benchmark), may not be remotely stimulating enough, no matter how many sets you do. As such, 100 push-ups a day might not work out as a long-term approach to gaining upper-body muscle or strength.
Who Should Do 100 Push-Ups a Day
100 daily push-ups might make for a wonderful work-from-home exercise routine, but they’re good for far more than that. Before you take the plunge, consider whether you fall into one of these camps.
No matter what branch of the armed forces you serve in, maintaining your physical fitness is a regular part of the job. Making 100 push-ups a part of your daily regimen is an excellent way to lay some groundwork for an upcoming readiness test.
In fact, the U.S. Army advises Green Beret aspirants to complete 10 to 15 sets of 20 push-ups — a whopping 200 to 300 total push-ups — every other day to prepare themselves for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection.
High School or Collegiate Athletes
Push-ups are commonly used as both a training tool and as a favorite torture device of many athletic coaches from middle school upward. This is especially true for athletes who are asked to complete the dreaded “up-down” on a frequent basis, like football players, lacrosse players and wrestlers.
While the constant requests for push-ups may seem like a mean-spirited demand, if you’re a participant in one of these sports, daily push-ups will equip you to get up at a moment’s notice even if you’ve repeatedly been knocked down.
Physical Fitness Test-Takers
If you find yourself entering any profession where strength and fitness standards are mandated, there is a high likelihood that a push-up test is going to be administered to you. Several regional and national police and firefighting organizations recommend assessment tests involving push-ups.
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In most instances, scores of 30 or more consecutive push-ups are required to achieve a passing mark. This means that if you can complete 100 push-ups every day in three or fewer sets, you should have little difficulty surpassing the minimum acceptable score in these testing scenarios.
Who Shouldn’t Do 100 Push-Ups a Day?
Make no mistake, daily anything isn’t for everyone. You might want to steer clear of a 100-push-up ritual in cases like these:
If You’re Injured
If you’ve got any sort of upper-body injury, and especially any injuries to the chest, shoulders or arms, high-volume push-ups are probably a bad idea. The shoulders, elbows and wrists are common sites for the development of chronic tendinopathies as well.
Conditions like tendinitis are liable to worsen if exposed to repeat stress, such as forcing yourself through a three-digit number of push-ups every single day. No matter what physical ailment you’re suffering from, you should defer to the advice of a medical professional before taking any kind of action.
If You’re New to Exercise
If you can only complete four push-ups at a time, then painfully plodding through dozens of low-rep push-up sets until you can complete 100 total reps is absolutely overkill for your muscles. If you’re new to physical activity, 100 repetitions of anything at once is a daunting figure, and attempting to chase down a triple-digit push-up count will do your body more harm than good.
If you are just beginning to string together consecutive push-ups and need to build up your resilience, working your way up to three or four sets of 10 to 12 repetitions should be the first milestone you pursue. From there, you can build upon that foundation and gradually work your way up to sets of 20 to 25 and onward. Slow and steady wins the race.
If Push-Ups Are Too Easy
While its triple-digit nature makes 100 push-ups a desirable achievement in the eyes of many people, 100 is actually a rather arbitrary number to set as a daily push-up goal. Realistically, reaching the 100 push-ups threshold might be a sign that you’ve outgrown the push-up in the first place.
[Read More: The Best Full-Body Bodybuilding Workout for Beginner to Advanced Lifters]That said, you don’t have to condemn the push-up to the waste bin altogether just because 100 standard repetitions are easy pickings. Progress into harder variations such as single-arm or weighted push-ups (whether with a resistance band or weight plate) and you’ll find yourself humbled by the push-up all over again.
100 Is Just a Number
In essence, 100 push-ups isn’t a very important number if you’re not achieving the desired effect from cranking out all of those repetitions. In the long run, markers of fitness progress like muscle mass, body fat percentage, or overall weight lifted are far more valuable measurements of progress than a mere push-up tally.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with completing 100 push-ups each day. Just make sure you expend all of that effort in a manner that comports with your broader objectives, whether they’re based around appearance, performance, or overall health. This way, you will prevent all of those push-up repetitions from amounting to an exercise in futility.
Morán-Navarro R, Pérez CE, Mora-Rodríguez R, de la Cruz-Sánchez E, González-Badillo JJ, Sánchez-Medina L, Pallarés JG. Time course of recovery following resistance training leading or not to failure. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2017 Dec;117(12):2387-2399. doi: 10.1007/s00421-017-3725-7. Epub 2017 Sep 30. PMID: 28965198.
Alizadeh S, Rayner M, Mahmoud MMI, Behm DG. Push-Ups vs. Bench Press Differences in Repetitions and Muscle Activation between Sexes. J Sports Sci Med. 2020 May 1;19(2):289-297. PMID: 32390722; PMCID: PMC7196742.
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