How Many Push-ups Should You Do a Day to See Results?

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a man is doing pushups on the floor, how many push-ups should you do a day

How many push-ups should you do a day? Let’s see what factors impact the reps and find out whether you should start with 10 or 50 pushups 💪

David J. Sautter post Reviewer
The article is verified by David J. Sautter
NASM Personal Trainer, NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist, ACE Sports Conditioning Specialist, NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist, BA in Professional Writing

Table of Contents

Who actually enjoys doing push-ups? Let’s not all raise our hands at once.

Push-ups are easily one of the most dreaded exercises. You can see the look of disappointment on the faces of people when their personal trainer includes them in the training program.

I’m going to level with you. There’s no denying that push-ups can be fairly tough. But this is one exercise that can help you improve your upper strength, build more lean muscle, and support burning excess calories and body fat. So, arguably a fair trade-off. A little hard work for an awesome body.

Now, the big question: how many push-ups should you do a day to see those results I just mentioned?

Unfortunately, that’s not an easy question to answer because there are several important factors that influence your ability to do push-ups.

What Factors Influence the Number of Push-Ups You Can Do?

In general, the number of push-ups that an individual can do (or build up to doing) daily varies based on several factors. 

Age and Sex

Yes, age is a number, but the averages don’t lie. 

While doing 20 push-ups a day can be classed as excellent for a woman aged 40 and above, that would actually be classed as average for a man aged 50 to 59. 

While there are certainly exceptions, it’s important to look at the whole and overall averages. Yes, there are plenty of women who can do more push-ups than men, and there are plenty of older people who can do more push-ups than younger people. 

However, when we discuss these numbers, they are based on natural physiological differences in muscular strength between males and females. Averages are also based on processes that occur during the natural aging process such as sarcopenia, which is the muscle loss that happens as you age. [1] 

Current Bodyweight

Another aspect that can affect the number of push-ups you can do is your current body weight.

The heavier you are, the more difficult it might be to push yourself up to the starting position. 

Medical Issues

If you have medical issues, especially those that directly impact the respiratory system, you might need to start out slower with push-ups.

Even if you can only manage to do one or two in the beginning, that’s okay. Aim for progress, not perfection.

Fitness Experience

Prior experience goes a long way to helping you do more push-ups. 

Thanks to muscle memory, even if you’ve been out of the game for years, it shouldn’t take you nearly as long as a complete beginner to get those numbers up.

Average Push-Up Numbers Based on Age and Sex

With all of that said, below, you can find the push-up numbers for men and women, divided into age groups and fitness levels.

You shouldn’t take these numbers as a universal chart. Instead, think of it like a guide map. You can use these values to set up your starting point and increase your strength progressively to achieve optimal push-up repetitions for your age and sex.

Push-Up Test Norms for Men

a table with age-related push-up norms for men_How Many Push-ups Should You Do a Day

Push-Up Test Norms for Women

a table with age-related push-up norms for women_How Many Push-ups Should You Do a Day

How Many Push-Ups Should You Do a Day to Build Muscle?

Push-ups are a great exercise for increasing upper body strength and building muscle. What’s more, as you target your triceps, biceps, back, chest, and core all at once, you’re also improving your muscular endurance. 

So, how many pushups should you do a day to build muscle? Is, for example, 50 pushups a day good?

The number can be based on the above chart and your gender, age, and fitness level.

The goal is to consistently increase the number of push-ups you can do. Eventually, you also want to increase the difficulty with different variations. 

It’s okay if you start out on the lower end of the chart above. It’s just a starting point. You’ll naturally improve over time, but you have to stay consistent with the workout.

When it comes to building muscle, it’s important to note that you don’t need to perform that total number of push-ups all at once. Instead, you can split it into smaller sets. 

Hypertrophy training, in particular, has a sweet spot of 3 to 5 sets and 8 to 12 repetitions. 

If you can easily burn through more than 12 push-ups at once, that’s your cue to change it up. You can decrease the speed or try a new angle.

Example of How to Set Your Number of Reps of Push-Ups

For instance, if you are a well-trained 25-year-old man, you may set yourself a goal to perform at least 50 push-ups. In this case, you can divide the total number of push-ups into 5 sets of 10 repetitions each to reach your goal, rather than perform all 50 push-ups in a row with no rest. 

Continuing with that example, if you find that 5 sets of 10 reps is too easy, you can increase the number of repetitions so that you are challenging yourself but also increasing the total number of push-ups you can do. After a couple of weeks, you might want to increase the number to 5 sets of 12 reps. Once you get above 15 reps, it’s time to make the push-ups more difficult as mentioned above.

An easy way to really engage the target muscles but also to increase intensity is to put more emphasis on controlling the movements during the eccentric phase, as this can further increase muscle growth. In push-ups, this happens during the lowering phase when the body is “dropped” to the floor. [2] [3] [4]

Speaking of all this muscle growth, is your goal to build muscle in your arms? Looking to bulk up your upper body, especially your back? We’ve got you covered! Check out our chest and bicep workout or our back and bicep workout for muscle gain.

Are There Risks of Doing Too Many Push-Ups?

Just like with any other exercise, you should refrain from doing push-ups every day to muscle failure. This will allow you to recover between sessions and prevent injuries to the tendons and joints. It also gives the muscles a chance to repair and get stronger, ensuring you see steady progress.  [5]

If you want to ensure that your fitness journey is going to give you the end results you want, you can use a workout planner app to design your very own training plan and schedule recovery days to maximize your gains. 

How Many Push-Ups Should You Do Each Day to See Results?

The number of push-ups you should do a day to see results depends on a multitude of factors, most notably your fitness goal. For example, if you train for strength, you may need to perform less repetitions than someone who is training for hypertrophy. Below we outlined the general number of sets and repetitions you should do for different goals. 

a table with pushup reps for stamina, hypertrophy, strength, power_How Many Push-ups Should You Do a Day

Stamina

To improve stamina, take the max amount of push-ups you are able to perform in a row and then subtract 10%. 

You can use this as a starting point. For instance, if you can perform 20 unbroken push-ups with good form, you can start with  18 unbroken push-ups for 3-to-5 sets, and increase the number of reps by one every other workout.

Hypertrophy

To increase hypertrophy, you should aim to perform between 6 and 12 repetitions for 3-to-5 sets. The rest in between sets should be no longer than 60  seconds.

Strength

To get stronger, you should focus on both increasing the intensity and resistance while performing between 3-to-6 sets of 6 or fewer repetitions

To really improve raw strength output, we recommend using weights, plates, or resistance bands across your back to increase the resistance load. Rest should last around 90 seconds between sets.

Power

Power with push-ups is achieved through performing the “explosive” or plyometric variation. 

You should aim for failure (doing as many as you can) for 3 to 6 sets. Rest should last between 90 and 180 seconds.

Push-Up Variations to Maximize Results

One of the reasons that we love push-ups is because of the wide range of progressions and variations that can help you build more strength and muscle. Likewise, they also have a number of regressions that can be used by beginners (such as the modified version with your knees on the floor). 

Relevant topic: How to Do a Push-Up Plank

Below, you’ll find the most common push-up variations to level up your training and maximize results. [6]

Plyometric Push-Up

a man is performing Plyometric Push-Up_How Many Push-ups Should You Do a Day

The plyometric push-up is a great way to increase power because it is an all-out explosive exercise. This variation consists of explosively pushing yourself off the floor. More advanced trainees can focus on getting hands and feeding off the floor. Research showed that the plyometric alternative is a more valuable option than regular push-ups for those who want to improve both endurance and strength. [7] 

Diamond Push-Up

a man is doing Diamond Push-Up_How Many Push-ups Should You Do a Day

In this variation, position your hands right underneath your chest with your fingertips and thumbs forming the shape of a diamond. 

Weighted Push-Up

a man is doing Weighted Push-Up_How Many Push-ups Should You Do a Day

You can modify any variation and increase the intensity by adding a weight plate on your back.

Deficit Push-Up

Deficit push-ups increase the range of motion by enhancing the depth of the movement. You can achieve this by using stacked weight plates, large dumbbells, or two benches. You can use this technique to increase the intensity of most push-up variations. 

Narrow Stance Push-Up

a man is performing Narrow Stance Push-Up_ How Many Push-ups Should You Do a Day

Also known as a close grip push-up, this variation is great to target the back of your arms.  Position your hands inside of shoulder width on the floor. This will make the movement more intense, but also more effective to target your triceps. 

If you just are new to tricep exercises but you want to work on them, have a look at our tricep workout for beginners

Final Words

  • Push-ups are a great way to stay fit and develop the muscles and strength of your upper body. The number of push-ups you should do daily varies upon one’s age, gender, body composition, and fitness level.
  • You should rest between upper body sessions, including push-ups, to allow muscles to recover and prevent injuries.
  • Number of sets and reps to perform to see results varies on your goals.
  • Once you plateau, you can add push-up variations to keep the intensity up.
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!



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