One of the most common fitness benchmark questions that people of all training levels ask is: “How many push-ups should I be able to do?”
Is 30 push-ups in a row good for men? Should women be able to do as many push-ups as men?
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of readily accessible data about how many push-ups you should be able to do based on your age, sex, and training level.
In this article, we will look at the average push-ups by age, sex, and fitness level, answering questions such as “How many push-ups can the average person do?“ and “How many push-ups should I be able to do based on my age and sex?“
We will cover the following:
- Does It Matter How Many Push-Ups I Can Do?
- How to Test How Many Push-Ups You Can Do
- How Many Push-Ups Should I Be Able to Do?
- How Many Push-Ups Should Seniors Be Able to Do?
Let’s dive in!
Does It Matter How Many Push-Ups I Can Do?
Although it may seem like a single exercise like the push-up would have little bearing on your overall health and fitness, there is some evidence to suggest that there is a significant association between the number of push-ups you can do and your risk of future cardiovascular disease or health issues.
For example, one 10-year study that followed middle-aged male firefighters (average age 39) found that men who could do 40 or more push-ups in a day were 96 percent less likely to experience a cardiovascular event over the ten years of the study than men who could only do ten or fewer push-ups.
It’s worth reiterating that this is an association study; there may have been other lifestyle and behavioral factors that contributed to the significant risk reduction, but it’s certainly a compelling bit of evidence pointing to the benefits of being able to do more push-ups.
How to Test How Many Push-Ups You Can Do
When many people ask the question, “How many push-ups should I be able to do?“the question can be somewhat nebulous because there is no time limitation.
For example, are you asking, How many push-ups should you be able to do in one minute? How many push-ups should you be able to do without stopping? How many push-ups should you be able to do in a day?The push-up test is a muscular endurance test with established norms and cut-offs.
According to the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP), the push-up test assesses your upper-body muscular endurance and is performed to failure.
Failure is considered to be reached once you can no longer perform push-ups without stopping to rest or without compromising your form and technique.
The classic push-up test sees how many full push-ups you can do in one minute. You should be performing the push-ups with your full range of motion with as much consistency in the tempo or rhythm as possible.
Many people believe that they are performing push-ups with the proper technique, but they often fail to use the full range of motion.
The correct push-up technique involves bending your elbows and lowering your chest to the ground until your elbows are at least 90° and then pressing all the way back up until your elbows are extended.
If you are “cheating“ on the range of motion by not going deep enough or not fully extending your elbows in the top position, it is easier to do more reps.
Therefore, it is possible that some of the push-up data for the number of push-ups men and women can do based on weight and fitness level are inflated due to improper technique or reporting.
While these types of errors can be found in any data collection or push-up standards charts, the number of push-ups performed by the US Army and other armed services may be more reliable since, theoretically, a test administrator observed the subject performing push-ups with proper technique and ended the test once technique issues arose.
How Many Push-Ups Should I Be Able to Do?
There are different push-up norms for men and women because studies have found that biological males can typically perform more push-ups than biological females of equal fitness levels and ages.
This sex difference is many due to the higher lean body mass and lower body fat percentage for men vs. women and the differences in body fat and muscle distribution across the body.
This is thought to allow men to perform push-ups faster and more easily than women.
How Many Push-Ups Should Men Be Able to Do?
So, how many push-ups can the average man do?
Strength Level reports average push-ups for men and women based on fitness level by aggregating data from their community members through 1,419,067 lifts.
So, is 30 push-ups in a row good? Let’s see! Based on this data, here are the average push-up standards for men:
Push-Ups Standards for Men
|Strength Level||Number of Push-Ups|
So, how do you interpret this data? If you ask the question, “How many push-ups should I be able to do?” you should look at your training level and then see the average number of push-ups for those in your same level and see how you compare.
- Beginners have just started weightlifting
- Novice weightlifters usually have less than six months of training
- Intermediate lifters have been training for six months to 1-2 years
- Advanced lifters have been lifting weights for more than two years
The other way to look at this push-up standards chart is to use the number of push-ups you can do and then see where it falls in the training levels.
The average male lifter can perform 41 push-ups.
If you are below this number, your strength and muscular endurance level is below average (somewhere between beginner and intermediate, depending on your push-ups PR), and if you’re above 41 reps of push-ups, your abilities are above the average male.
One important caveat to bear in mind when looking at these push-up norms is that the number of push-ups was self-reported by users on a website.
According to Topend Sports, here are the push-up standards for men based on age doing the 1-minute push-up test:
|Excellent||> 56||> 47||> 41||> 34||> 31||> 30|
|Very Poor||< 4||< 4||< 2||0||0||0|
How Many Push-Ups Should Women Be Able to Do?
Using the same data from Strength Level, here are the community averages for the number of push-ups women should do based on fitness level:
Push-Ups Standards for Women
|Strength Level||Number of Push-Ups|
According to Topend Sports, here are the standards and average push-ups by age for women doing the 1-minute push-up test.
Note the two lines for full push-ups vs. kneeling push-ups.
|Excellent (Full Push-Ups from Feet)||> 30||> 32||> 28||> 20||> 16||> 12|
|Excellent (Modified Kneeling Push-Ups)||> 35||> 36||> 37||> 31||> 25||> 23|
|Good (Full Push-Ups from Feet)||22-30||24-32||21-28||15-20||13-16||10-12|
|Good (Modified Kneeling Push-Ups)||27-35||30-36||30-37||25-31||21-25||19-23|
|Above Average (Full Push-Ups from Feet)||11-21||14-23||13-20||10-14||9-12||6-9|
|Above Average (Modified Kneeling Push-Ups)||21-27||23-29||22-30||18-24||15-20||13-18|
|Average (Full Push-Ups from Feet)||7-10||9-13||7-12||5-9||4-8||3-5|
|Average (Modified Kneeling Push-Ups)||11-20||12-22||10-21||8-17||7-14||5-12|
|Below Average (Full Push-Ups from Feet)||4-6||5-8||3-6||2-4||2-3||2|
|Below Average (Modified Kneeling Push-Ups)||6-10||7-11||5-9||4-7||3-6||2-4|
|Poor (Full Push-Ups from Feet)||1-3||1-4||1-2||1||1||1|
|Poor (Modified Kneeling Push-Ups)||2-5||2-6||1-4||1-3||1-2||1|
|Very Poor (Full Push-Ups from Feet)||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Very Poor (Modified Kneeling Push-Ups)||0-1||0-1||0||0||0||0|
How Many Push-Ups Should Seniors Be Able to Do?
Unfortunately, as with many fitness standards, the guidelines or data regarding how many push-ups seniors should be able to do are largely absent relative to push-up standards for younger adults.
This is not to say that there aren’t adults over 65 who are able to do many push-ups without stopping or that push-ups are no longer necessary for seniors.
On the contrary, many older adults include push-ups as a mainstay in their strength training programs due to the muscular endurance and consistency they have developed over time.
Like any form of strength training, doing push-ups after age 65 becomes increasingly important to help attenuate the age-related decline in muscle mass (sarcopenia) and bone density, both of which can be improved by consistent strength training workouts with exercises such as push-ups.
Still, there is a frustrating paucity of push-up standards for adults over 65, making it more difficult to answer the question, “How many push-ups should adults over 65 be able to do?“
Part of the reason for this lack of push-up standards data for seniors is the fact that many fitness standards are pulled from the fitness standards for the Armed Services and most branches of the Armed Services do not enroll recruits who are 65 years of age or older.
For example, the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), which is required for military recruits entering basic training, ends in the 52-56-year-old age group.
According to these standards, the number of push-ups men should be able to do in the 52 to 56-year-old age group is 11 or more consecutive full push-ups.
We can get a little bit closer to push-up standards for adults 65 years and up from Dr. Lawrence A. Golding “push up test norms”.
Dr. Golding has a Ph.D. in kinesiology and put together push-up standards based on age. His age groups cap out at the age group of 60 to 65.
These push-up standards are stratified based on how many push-ups you can do and then ascribed a certain fitness level.
For men in the 60 to 65 age group, the push-up norms presented are as follows:
- Excellent: 31 or more
- Good: 24-30
- Above average: 17-23
- Average: 6-16
- Below average: 3-5
- Poor: 1-2
- Very poor: 0
The push-up norms for women aged 60 to 65 are as follows:
- Excellent: 24 or more
- Good: 19-23
- Above average: 13-18
- Average: 5-12
- Below average: 2-4
- Poor: 1
- Very poor: 0
There are also guidelines for how many push-ups you should be able to do that are released by the United States Department of State.
These push-up standards actually have several age groups for seniors for both men and women.
What’s nice about these push-up standards is that they are stratified based on percentile rankings as well as categorized accordingly.
Percentile rankings tell you how you compare to others in your age and sex category. For example, if you can perform the number of push-ups that falls under the 75th percentile, you are able to do more push-ups than 75% of age- and sex-matched peers.
According to the US Department of State, here are the number of push-ups older men and women should be able to do:
2-Minute Push-Up Standards for Senior Men
|Performance Category||Percentile||Age 60-64||Age 65+|
2-Minute Push-Up Standards for Senior Women
|Performance Category||Percentile||Age 60-64||Age 65+|
One thing that’s great about the Strength Level push-up standards is that they do include push-up data for adults up to age 85 because the push-up norms are aggregated based on real individuals submitting their workout metrics.
Here are the average push-ups older adults can do based on the community data:
Push-Up Norms for Senior Men
|70||< 1||< 1||13||30||49|
|75||< 1||< 1||9||24||40|
|80||< 1||< 1||6||18||33|
|85||< 1||< 1||2||13||27|
|90||< 1||< 1||< 1||9||21|
Push-Up Norms for Senior Women
|60||< 1||< 1||8||20||35|
|65||< 1||< 1||5||15||28|
|70||< 1||< 1||1||11||22|
|75||< 1||< 1||< 1||7||17|
|80||< 1||< 1||< 1||4||12|
|85||< 1||< 1||< 1||< 1||9|
|90||< 1||< 1||< 1||< 1||5|
Because there are many adults over age 65 or 70, or even over age 75 and above who are regularly performing push-ups in their fitness routine, the Strength Level community push-up norms for seniors are especially helpful because they circumvent the age limitation on military push-up standards.
In other words, just because someone is in their 80s and may no longer be eligible to enter the armed services does not mean that an adult in their 80s should not and cannot do many consecutive push-ups.
Indeed, whether they strength train at home or go to the gym, there are plenty of adults in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and probably even 90s and above who are in great shape and able to do more push-ups than adults in their 20s or 30s due to superior conditioning and workout consistency.
Regardless of your age, it’s important to note that if you can’t do very many push-ups in a row, you aren’t alone. According to a 2021 survey of 2,000 people conducted by Gymless.org, 53.8 percent of adults are unable to do more than ten push-ups in a row.
The good news is that with consistent training, you can build your upper-body strength to be able to do more push-ups.
Check out our push-up progression plan here to help you train your way to better push-up strength.
You’ll be banging out sets of push-ups before you know it!