When it comes to basic workouts, you can’t go wrong with push-ups. They’re easy enough for beginners to learn. In fact, they were probably some of the first exercises you did as a child. As a resistance exercise, push-ups increase your muscle strength. This will protect your joints from injury and make it easier to do everyday tasks. Plus, having more muscle means that you’ll burn more calories at rest. It doubles as a crucial part of losing weight.1
Push-ups target the chest, upper arm, and shoulders. They also engage the abs and the back. Depending on the type of push-up, even your legs and glutes can get toned.2
The number of push-ups you should do to build muscle will depend on your age, fitness level, and body type. It will also change as you get stronger. However, there are guidelines that you can use as a baseline.
Start With 2–4 Sets With 8–15 Repetitions
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 2 to 4 sets of an exercise will boost strength and power. And 8 to 15 repetitions within the same set will strengthen the muscle.
Given these recommendations, you should do anywhere from 16 to 60 push-ups each day to gain muscle. Doing even more will improve your muscular endurance.
Repeat For 2 Or 3 Days A Week
These guidelines are for a single workout. It should be repeated 2 or 3 days each week, with at least 48 hours of rest in between.3
Are you just beginning to exercise? Start small. Aim for 2 sets of 8 push-ups. Then, you can gradually increase the number of repetitions and sets. This will allow your muscles to build up in a healthy way.
Maximize Your Push-Ups With Variations
Standard push-ups can get boring, especially when you’ve mastered 60 or more. Challenge your body by doing different versions. These exercises will benefit other muscle groups while keeping your routine interesting.
- Exercise ball: Place your hands or feet on an exercise ball. Both variations will test your balance and put your abdominal muscles to work.
- Single hand: Place one hand on your back. As you hold yourself up with the other arm, you’ll give it an intense workout. Switch arms and repeat.
- Clap push-up: Every time you rise, clap and return your hands to the floor. You’ll need extra balance and focus to go back to starting position.
- Leg lift: Extend one leg behind you. As you hold it up, your thigh and butt will tone up. Switch legs halfway through.
Get The Form Right To Avoid Injuries
- Push-ups can stress out your wrists. To prevent unnecessary pain, keep your hands shoulder-width apart. They should be right under your shoulders with your fingers facing forward or slightly inward.
- This exercise can also strain your shoulders. Double check that your elbows are positioned close to your body. If you flare them out, your shoulders may hurt.
- Avoid arching your back. Keep your spine straight and strong by engaging your core and glutes.
- Don’t do more push-ups than you can handle. It will increase your chances of injury and pain! Instead, slowly increase the number of reps so you can build up muscle in a healthy way.
|↑1||Resistance training – health benefits. BetterHealth Channel.|
|↑2||Chulvi‐Medrano, Iván, Esteban Martínez‐Ballester, and Laura Masiá‐Tortosa. “COMPARISON OF THE EFFECTS OF AN EIGHT‐WEEK PUSH‐UP PROGRAM USING STABLE VERSUS UNSTABLE SURFACES.” International journal of sports physical therapy 7, no. 6 (2012): 586.|
|↑3||American College of Sports Medicine. “ACSM issues new recommendations on quantity and quality of exercise.” (2011).|