Pushups are one of the most popular bodyweight exercises.
With the wide range of ways to modify pushups for beginners and progress pushups for more advanced athletes, pushups are a great exercise for people of all fitness levels.
This exercise strengthens numerous upper-body and core muscles, including the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor muscles in the chest, the deltoid and rotator cuff muscles in the shoulders, the triceps in the upper arms, the rhomboids and trapezius muscles in the upper back and the abdominal muscles in the core.
Best of all, as a bodyweight exercise, pushups don’t require any equipment, so they can be done anywhere at any time. But, you may be asking yourself, how many pushups should I do a day? How many pushups a day are necessary to see results?
In this article, we will discuss the recommendations for how many pushups a day to see results are necessary to do, based on different fitness levels and goals.
We will cover:
- How Many Pushups Should I Do a Day?
- Recommendations for How Many Pushups a Day to See Results
Let’s get started!
How Many Pushups Should I Do a Day?
There isn’t necessarily a set number of pushups you need to do per day to see “results” that will universally apply to everyone. In other words, there are no research studies that conclude “You should do ten pushups a day to see results” or even “ you should do 100 pushups a day to see results.“
Rather, the number of pushups you should do per day depends on numerous factors, including your fitness level, primary fitness goal, and the other exercises and workouts you perform as part of your overall fitness routine.
Let’s look at each of these factors individually.
Recommendations for How Many Pushups a Day to See Results
#1: Your Fitness Level
The number of pushups you can and should do per day is largely dependent on your current fitness level.
Beginners will not only be unable to safely perform as many pushups as someone who has been working out consistently for a long time but also will not need to do as many pushups to see results.
Initial gains in strength and muscle mass are more appreciable than they eventually become for well-trained athletes.
Novices are able to not only build muscle mass more quickly (hypertrophy), which in turn increases strength, but there are also rapid and significant improvements in neuromuscular coordination and firing patterns that occur when you start a strength training program.
These neural adaptations lead to large improvements in strength rather quickly, even before you start building a noticeable amount of new muscle tissue.
Therefore, if a beginner starts doing 10 to 20 pushups per day every day, he or she will begin to see and feel increases in the strength and size of the muscles involved in the pushup exercise (pectoralis major and minor in the chest; deltoids and rotator cuffs in the shoulders; trapezius, rhomboids, serratus anterior, and latissimus dorsi in the back; and the core muscles).
On the other hand, an experienced athlete who has been training consistently in the gym performing a well-rounded, high-volume hypertrophy or strength training program several times per week for a year or more will likely not notice an appreciable increase in muscular size or strength with just 10 to 20 pushups per day.
A higher training volume—more than 10-20 pushups per day—would probably be required to see results.
Alternatively, more advanced pushup progressions, such as plyometric pushups, decline pushups, diamond pushups, and one-handed push-ups, might be necessary at that low volume (10-20 pushups per day).
#2: Your Fitness Goal
Another major factor that affects how many push-ups you should do per day is your primary fitness goal.
Different fitness goals influence the recommended training volume for any type of exercise, including pushups.
How many pushups should you do per day for weight loss?
How many pushups should you do per day to build muscle?
How many pushups should you do per day to get stronger?
These types of questions help narrow down the recommendations for how many pushups you should do per day when also taken into the context of your fitness level (as previously discussed) and your overall fitness routine (to follow).
With that in mind, it is difficult to make unilateral recommendations for how many pushups you should do per day for each of these stated fitness goals due to the confluence of other contributing factors.
However, if trying to make some general recommendations about how many pushups you need to do per day to see results, consider the following:
How many push-ups do you need to do per day to lose weight?
Ultimately, just doing pushups will not be the most effective form of exercise or training routine for weight loss. Weight loss requires generating a consistent caloric deficit, such that you are habitually burning more calories per day than you are consuming.
To lose one pound of body fat, you need to generate a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories, which works out to 500 calories per day to lose one pound of fat per week.
If you are mostly working on losing weight by restricting your caloric intake, it is possible that you can lose weight by adding pushups to your routine.
However, pushups burn relatively few calories, and most people cannot perform particularly long workouts of pushups. Therefore, you will want to engage in a more well-rounded exercise routine, including other strength training exercises and cardio exercises, to lose weight.
If you truly wanted to only do pushups to lose weight, you would need to do several hundred per day, depending on your body weight and your caloric intake.
How many push-ups do you need to do per day to build muscle and increase strength?
As previously touched upon, your fitness level will have a significant impact on how many push-ups you need to do per day to build muscle and increase strength.
Your overall training program will also have an impact because if you are performing other strength training exercises, particularly resistance training exercises that involve weights such as dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells, your will be able to build muscle more quickly and efficiently than with bodyweight exercises, such as pushups, alone.
#3: Your Overall Fitness Routine
Again, the other types of exercises and workouts you perform certainly affect how many pushups you should do per day.
If you’re doing mostly cardio workouts and very little strength training, you’ll want to do more pushups per day (and more days per week) to better meet the guidelines for physical activity for adults.
According to the recommendations for physical activity for adults set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should be doing at least two total-body strength training workouts per week or engaging in a strength training program that trains each of the major muscles twice per week.
Therefore, it is important to note that it is best to perform a well-rounded strength training routine that targets all of the major muscles of your body.
So, for example, if you are doing an upper-body/lower-body split routine, you will want to train at least four days per week so that the muscle groups in your upper body and lower body are each worked twice.
On the other hand, if you are an avid gym goer and are routinely performing numerous strength training workouts per week targeting all of the major muscles in your body, particularly those that are worked during the pushup exercise, you will not need to do as many pushups per day to still target these same muscle groups.
For example, if you are following a total-body strength training program or push/pull workout routine and perform exercises such as chest press, bench press, tricep extensions, dips, chest flyes, and shrugs, you are already working most of the muscles involved in pushups so you will not necessarily need to do as many pushups per day to strengthen these muscles.
Ultimately, there’s no single best answer for how many pushups you should do a day to see results.
You need to consider your current fitness level, primary fitness goals, and how pushups fit into the overall context of your workout routine.
With that said, pushups are a fantastic bodyweight exercise, so particularly if you enjoy doing them and you don’t feel like you are teetering on the edge of overtraining or overdoing it, do as many pushups per day as you can.
You may even consider taking on a 30-day push-up challenge! Have fun!