Want to build strength and muscle mass in your upper body from home? Push ups are the way to go!
The push up is one of the most popular strength training exercises on the planet.
Almost everybody has attempted to do a push up at least once in their lifetime.
Push ups are one of the best upper body exercises you can do, especially if you're training from home.
But just how many push ups do you need to be doing a day to see proper results?
In this article, we'll help you tackle that question, and propose some new ideas for you to see even better results than just performing push ups day after day!
How Many Push Ups Should I Do a Day?
This isn't actually an easy question to answer.
And the answer that we're going to give you probably isn't what you're expecting either.
Everybody has different physical capabilities, and there's not going to be a single answer that suits everybody.
What works for you likely isn't going to work for someone else.
For example, if we said to do 100 push ups each day, the effectiveness of this for building both strength and muscle mass would vary greatly between different people.
An experienced athlete that's been training for several years would likely be able to bang these push ups out in a matter of minutes.
However if a new trainee tried to do this, it would likely take a MUCH, MUCH longer time.
The experienced athlete wouldn't get enough of a challenge to stimulate any proper growth in their upper body, and the beginner athlete would be struggling too hard to do any real or proper reps.
Neither of them would see any meaningful results in the mirror.
This is also why we recommend that you do not stick to the set and rep schemes that people prescribe you online when you're working out with you bodyweight.
It's simply too generic, and it's likely that very few people are actually going to fall into the category of people that those set and rep schemes would benefit.
You can learn more about that by reading our blog post: how to properly train at home for gym-quality workouts.
Instead of having us try to give you a number to do without any prior information, we'll first have you take a quick test.
How to Figure Out the Number of Push Ups You Should Do
To find the ideal number of push ups for you to be doing each day, you need to first know your maximum number of reps in a single set.
That is, a set of consecutive push ups done until failure with no rest in between.
If you don't already know this number, you're going to want to test it by getting down on the ground and doing some push ups.
Each rep that you do should be a full repetition.
All the way down until your chest hovers the slightest amount above the floor, and all the way up until you've locked out your elbows.
Your body should form a straight line, with no sagging at the hips and no rounding at the back.
If you're not really sure how to perform a push up correctly, we'll give you a brief guide below.
Start on the ground in a high plank position, hands just outside of shoulder width.
Lower yourself down with control, until your chest reaches just above the ground.
Tuck your elbows in at a 45 degree angle to work the chest more, or tuck them in completely to your sides to emphasize the triceps.
Keep your abs tight, and body in a straight line.
Avoid sagging of the hips, or rounding of the back.
Press yourself up by driving your hands into the ground, keeping your body straight and elbows tucked in at your appropriate angle.
Fully lock out your elbows at the top of the movement and squeeze the chest muscles hard.
Check out the video below by CrossFit® to see a great demonstration of this exercise!
So go give these push ups a try, and see how many reps you can bang out without stopping!
Once you know your max number of push ups in a single set, you can use that to program workouts for yourself involving push ups that are going to more effectively stimulate muscle growth and strength gain.
For us to simply give you a number (even if it' personalized) of push ups to do each day would be pretty pointless.
Challenges such as the '100 push ups a day for 30 days' challenge aren't actually very good at stimulating muscle growth.
Even if you see your favorite influencer on TiKTok or Instagram doing it, that doesn't mean you should as well.
If we told you to do 100 push ups a day but you did them over a span of 10 hours, there would be literally no point in doing that (aside from practicing form).
You wouldn't be generating nearly enough mechanical tension, metabolic stress or muscle damage (the three primary mechanisms of muscle growth) during each working session to see any real results.
Now if you kept working from 0 up to your final number within the same workout session (you don't get up to go do something else), then that would be slightly better, and even a viable option for some good gains.
However an even better option would be the following:
Instead, we'll give you a workout consisting of only push ups that you can do at home, and use your max number of reps in a set to determine the set and rep schemes that you'll follow.
The workout is as follows:
Please note that 'MAX' = your max number of regular push ups in a set.
5-10 minute warmup
Decline push ups - 4 x 50-55% of MAX
Regular push ups - 4 x 75% of MAX
Pike push ups - 4 x 25-30% of MAX
Negative explosive push ups - 2 x 50-60% of MAX
Regular push ups - 1 x Failure
For form guides on all of these variations, you can click here for an article that breaks down each one.
If you do this home chest workout instead, you'd see some great gains in your upper body and would undoubtedly increase the number of push ups you can do as well.
Why So Many Variations?
The reason that we have you doing some variations over just a ton of regular push ups is because these variations actually allow you to hit different parts of your upper body, and target different areas of the same muscle groups.
The regular push up is the best overall choice due to it targeting all areas of the chest as well as the shoulders and triceps (your upper body pushing muscles), but incorporating variations into your workout is going to allow you to target each part a little more and see more targeted growth.
Aside from just the workout that we've given you, you do also need to take a couple of other things into account when you come to implement these tips into your daily routines.
You Don't Want to Neglect the Other Parts of Your Body
One of the major flaws of the '100 push ups a day' challenge (and variations of it) are the fact that most of them don't have you working out ANY other parts of your body aside from the muscles worked during a push up.
When you do a push up, you work the muscles of your chest, shoulders, triceps and abs.
Your back will help with some stabilization, but it's not going to grow very much.
Now ever other muscle in your body becomes neglected, and you're quickly going to develop a disproportionate physique if you take these push ups seriously.
Your quads, hamstrings, back, biceps, triceps, rear delts and many other muscle groups are going to fall behind.
So immediately, you should be able to see that simply just doing push ups every day is not the best choice. Even if you train intensely.
Instead, what you should do is follow a slightly more structured workout program, where you work a certain group of muscles on one day, a next group of muscles the next, and rotate between this so that you end up hitting each muscle group the same amount each and every week.
So let's step away from the idea of doing a certain number of push ups each day, and instead follow a more carefully thought-out workout program for total-body development.
Your Muscles Also Need Time to Rest
When we work out, it's common misconception that our muscles grow whilst we're actively working them hard in the gym.
However, that's simply not how it works at all.
You see, our muscles actually grow when we rest them. When we let them recover.
We damage the muscles and make them work hard, and then they grow back bigger and stronger so that the next time we do that physical activity at that intensity, it's not as hard.
Our muscles do not grow at all during the workouts or training sessions that we do.
So really, doing lots of push ups every single day without any rest actually isn't a very good idea in the first place in that aspect either.
You don't give your muscles the chance to rest and repair themselves, so essentially some of the hard work that you do is going to go to waste.
You probably will still see some improvements in your ability to perform push ups, but it's not going to be the most optimal way to train.
And this actually ties in well with the idea of following a more structured workout program that we were talking about earlier.
Let's say that you worked out your chest, shoulders and triceps on Monday with the workout program that we gave you earlier in this post.
On Tuesday, you could work the muscles of your back and your biceps whilst your chest, shoulders and triceps rest. That's your upper body sorted.
Then, on Wednesday you could train your entire lower body whilst your upper body muscles take a break to recover and grow.
Then you could repeat this or mix in some other combination of workouts to form your own workout split.
This is actually a very popular example of a workout split known as 'Push, Pull, Legs'.
If this all sounds too confusing and you'd rather have some extra help with creating your own workout programs, you can definitely head over to our products and services page to see how we can guide you along this journey!
But anyways, told you you wouldn't be expecting the answer we give in this article.
How did we manage to pivot from giving you a number of push ups to do each day to a fully structured workout routine?
Doing this is going to be FAR more effective in terms of developing total body strength and muscle mass than simply doing a set number of push ups each day.
Just give it a try and you'll see for yourself.
And that wraps up the end of this article!
As it turns out, doing loads and loads of push ups day after day actually isn't the best way to go about strength training at home!
Go and follow the idea of a structured workout program (even from home) like we outlined in this post, you'll see significantly better progress. Seriously.
We promise you. Just go see for yourself.