I have been doing 100 pushups a day, every day, since June 15, 2019. It’s been a super fun challenge and I plan on doing my 100 daily pushups for a full year. After talking to an expert and doing my own research, I feel confident in saying that you can safely do 100 pushups every day if you want to.
The next question I would like to figure out for myself is: Should you do 100 pushups every day? The research and evidence lead me to believe that:
Regardless of your goals, you do not need to do 100 pushups every day. Honestly, you probably shouldn’t. Muscle recovery, muscle growth and strength gains occur while you rest between workouts. Additionally, 100 daily pushups may be too easy or too difficult for your current fitness level.
Just because you can do 100 pushups a day, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do them every day. As with many things in life, there is much to consider when deciding to begin a pushup challenge of this frequency.
But if we probably shouldn’t do 100 pushups every day, why am I?
That’s a fair question. The simple answer is because I can and I want to. I want to improve my physique, my strength, and I’m curious to know what the month-by-month results might look like over a full year.
I am heavily researching the topic and speaking to experts about it. I am fully committed to this personal challenge, to completing it safely and responsibly, and to documenting and sharing everything I learn along the way with you.
With that in mind, here is some more information on the importance of rest, and why you probably should not do 100 pushups every day. The rest of the article includes:
- The Importance of Rest
- You Are Overtraining
- It’s Too Difficult
- It’s Too Easy
- You Are Not Achieving Your Goals
- It’s Boring
- Related Questions
The Importance of Rest
Our muscles grow and get stronger during periods of rest between workouts. This almost feels like common knowledge, but its importance cannot be overstressed or repeated. We need to rest to get bigger and stronger.
Sure, there are other important factors like proper nutrition, intensity of training, the progression of your training, etc., but let’s focus on the frequency of training and rest for now.
Simply put, their study reinforces the fact that when we workout we break down our muscles. For those muscles to recover bigger and stronger than before, they need time to rest. They recommend resting for 48 hours between workouts for proper recovery, or longer if necessary due to soreness. They also say that it helps to prevent overtraining.
Some Simple Math
If you do 100 pushups every day, you will probably get less than 23 hours of rest between workouts.
Why do I say 23 hours? Well, let’s say you start your pushups at 8:00am every day and it takes 1 hour to complete all of your pushups. From the moment you finish to the time you start again the next day, 23 hours will have passed.
You will probably have much less rest time if you are a beginner. When I started my pushup challenge, it took me all day to complete my 100 pushups. I got maybe 12-13 hours of rest before starting again the following day. This is clearly not ideal according to the research. It’s made even worse because it was intense training for me given my starting fitness level.
Quite frankly, I did not need to do 100 pushups to make size and strength gains at that point. I definitely did not need to do 100 pushups on Days 2 and 3 to get bigger and stronger. I could have waited, rested, and completed another 100 pushups once I was fully recovered and still gotten results.
I suspect that it would be more enjoyable, and more sustainable, to take rest days between pushups. The chest, shoulder and triceps muscles will make gains, and possible more than if you did 100 pushups every day.
Additionally, by exercising other parts of your body on this pushup-rest-days, you can have a much more balanced workout routine in general.
So, you still want to do 100 pushups every day, huh?!
I applaud your tenacity and wish you luck. Even with a workout program of this frequency, there are still things you can do to get as much rest as possible, especially at the beginning of this challenge.
Tips for getting as much rest as possible: I asked an expert on exercise physiology (Dr. Daniel Jaffe) about this, and did some research on my own. These are some options:
- Space-out your pushups throughout the entire day. Instead of forcing yourself to do all 100 pushups in a single session, do a set and rest for an hour before doing more. This allows for more recovery time between sets each day.
- Never go to failure. Even if you can do 15 pushups in a row, limit yourself to 10 at a time. At the very least, end your set before the set ends you. This prevents taxing the muscles and joints too much during a single set and lowers the intensity of your overall workout. A lower intensity means higher frequency will be achievable. It also helps to avoid bad-form related injuries.
- Avoid taxing yourself in too many ways. If you want to do 100 pushups every day, especially as a beginner, you probably should not combine this routine with a program of heavy lifting and intense cardio, all in the same day. It may be tempting to try to do it all, I get it. Still, doing 100 pushups every day is a marathon, not a sprint, so to speak. Pace yourself and increase the intensity when you feel ready.
- Go to bed on time and get enough sleep. It almost sounds too obvious, but we live busy lives and I doubt that many of us actually get enough rest and sleep to begin with. Try going to bed on time and getting a proper night’s sleep. Try doing that every night if you can.
You probably should not do 100 pushups every day if you are experiencing symptoms of overtraining.
What is overtraining? The American Council on Exercise (ACE) defines overtraining as:
“constant intense training that does not provide adequate time for recovery.”-The American Council on Exercise, defining overtraining
If you are doing 100 pushups every day, and lifting heavy in the gym, and doing intense cardio sessions, and live a very active or physical lifestyle, you might begin to experience symptoms of overtraining. The 100 pushups alone might even be enough.
The symptoms can be pretty serious. ACE offers 9 warning signs of overtraining symptoms to be aware of:
- Decreased performance.
- Increased perceived effort during workouts.
- Excessive fatigue.
- Agitation and moodiness.
- Insomnia or restless sleep.
- Loss of appetite.
- Chronic or nagging injuries.
- Metabolic imbalances.
- Psychological stress and/or depression.
Wow! I was especially surprised to find so many psychological and emotional symptoms on the list. I dug deeper, and in another article by ACE, they elaborate further on the psychological and emotional signs of overtraining:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Emotional sensitivity
- Reduced self-esteem
I am not a doctor, but if you are experiencing any of these symptoms it might be time to stop doing 100 pushups every day.
It’s Too Difficult
You probably should not do 100 pushups every day if it is too difficult for your current fitness level.
If you cannot do a single pushup with proper form, attempting 100 pushups in a day will be too difficult and unsafe for you. Sorry, but it is true.
The same applies if you can only do a small number of proper-form pushups per set. If you can do a maximum of between 1-5 proper form pushups per set, attempting 100 pushups every day will be extremely challenging. Sure, you could try, but you may experience the following:
- It might take all day to finish your 100 pushups, which is fine.
- Your muscles and joints will likely feel very sore as you progress through Day 1.
- On Day 2, you will probably hate your life and never want to do another pushup again.
- If you survive Day 2, Days 3 to 5 might feel just as bad. It happened to me, and my starting point was 17 pushups in a row.
In these cases, you probably shouldn’t do 100 pushups every single day. If you are stubborn like me and really, really want to do 100 pushups every day, you could try:
Alternative Option #1: Instead of doing 100 pushups every day, begin with a much more reasonable number. For example, start with 10 pushups a day, or 5, or whatever is realistic for you. Slowly build up your strength while giving yourself plenty of time to rest and recover. Build up your strength slowly until you reach that elusive goal of 100 pushups every day.
Alternative Option #2: Instead of doing 100 standard pushups every day, throw your ego aside and begin with easier pushup variations. I did assisted-knee pushups and trained for a long, long time before I felt confident that I could do 100 standard pushups a day for the long-term. Everyone has to start somewhere. Click on the links to watch YouTube videos on how to perform each of these options:
- Wall Pushups: As you might expect, you do pushups against a wall or vertical surface.
- Countertop Pushups: Just like wall pushups, you are not quite horizontal yet. As you get stronger, you can further lower the angle by using a chair. This could also be done on stairs.
- Assisted-Knee Pushups: By placing your knees on the ground, you make the movement easier by lessening the amount of weight and resistance you are pressing against.
Alternative Option #3: Do a combination of options #1 and #2. As you get stronger, you could do a few standard pushups per day, and finish off your 100 with an assisted pushup variation of your choice and ability.
Alternative Option #4: Simply put, don’t consider doing 100 pushups per day. Do what you can, rest when you need to, and make progress at your own pace. Just make sure that you do keep making progress in your personal health and fitness every day.
It’s Too Easy
You probably should not do 100 pushups every day if it is too easy for your current fitness level.
Perhaps you are on the other end of the fitness spectrum. According to an article by the NFL website, professional athlete Herschel Walker used to do about 3,500 pushups every single day! To put that in perspective, it took me 1 month and 5 days to complete what he did every day.
Could it get any more extreme? Indeed, it can. I looked into it more and found another YouTube video where Mr. Walker himself says that he used to do 5,000 pushups and 5,000 sit-ups every day!
In case you are concerned about him overtraining, don’t worry. Since he started training for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), he has cut his daily pushups to only 1,500 per day.
He accomplished this remarkable pushup ability thanks to not lifting heavy weights at the gym, doing more repetitions with less weight, doing a lot of isometric movements, stretching, and doing Pilates and yoga to avoid injury, and doing this consistently for pretty much his entire life. Very cool, Mr. Walker, very cool indeed. Respect!
I poke fun because he is a professional athlete and unlikely to read a blog post about doing 100 pushups a day. That being said, if you are reading this Mr. Walker, I admire your lifetime of dedication to health a fitness.
I, on the other hand, am not a professional athlete. I doubt you are, either. So, what about us? What should we do when doing 100 pushups a day becomes too easy and we stop making progress?
At this point, you probably should not do 100 normal pushups every day because it is, quite frankly, not challenging enough to make significant size or strength gains anymore. If you are at this point, that’s great! Now, you can try any of the following to improve your results:
- Just do more pushups. If 100 pushups a day is too easy, try 200 pushups per day. Simple, right?
- Increase your time under tension. Simply Shredded defines time under tension as the total time a muscle resists weight during each set. While the total number of pushups is the same, the amount of time you spend doing them each day will increase significantly. Continue doing 100 pushups every day, but slow down the speed of the movement on the way up and down. It will be much more of a challenge, I guarantee it.
- Add some weight. A simple, yet effective, way to progress is to add weight over time. If 100 pushups every day are too easy for you, increase the resistance by wearing a weighted vest. The classic example is to have a pretty person sit on your back, but that would be a big daily time commitment for them and unlikely to be sustainable long-term. Find some other way to add weight to your body and don’t waste other people’s time.
- Do a more difficult pushup variation. There are variations for beginner, intermediate and advanced pushup enthusiasts. If 100 standard pushups per day is too easy for you, try doing 100 of any of these variations by the Calisthenicmovement YouTube channel… I dare you!
You are Not Achieving Your Goals
You probably should not do 100 pushups every day if you are not achieving your goals with them.
Everyone exercises for unique and personal reasons. If you are doing 100 pushups every day, you undoubtedly have a goal in mind. If you are not achieving this goal, you should probably adjust your exercise routine.
Example: If you want to have the best-looking chest in the world, 100 pushups a day might not be the best option, at least as you move from beginner to intermediate and advanced pushup abilities. There are many ways to stimulate chest muscle growth and appearance. There are also many parts of the chest which need stimulating.
Example: If you want to be really-super strong like these guys I found on YouTube, pushups could help, but only to a point. Eventually, overloading the muscles with bench pressing heavy weight will be needed, and that will require a lot of rest between workouts.
So think about your goals, analyze your results, and adjust accordingly.
You probably should not do 100 pushups every day if you get bored easily and have no desire to do the same thing over-and-over for long periods of time.
Let’s be honest, doing 100 pushups every day can get a little monotonous and boring. If you get bored easily, do not attempt this challenge for extended periods of time.
I am on day 57 and I am still doing OK, but I am pretty bull-headed when it comes to completing personal challenges. Still, ask me again in a few months and I am sure that my opinion will have changed.
“Variety is the spice of life.”–My dad, of life and herbs
Fun Tip: One of the best ways to avoid this repetitive boredom is to mix it up now and then.
How many pushup variations do you think exist? The most comprehensive list I have found includes 82 different pushup variations and how to do them. It was published in this article by Greatist. I highly suggest reading it.
If you get bored easily, or just need a change from time to time, you can do any or all of the pushup variations found on that list. As far as how often you should change each variation, that feels like a personal decision which I will let you discover on your own. But here are some ideas if you are feeling stuck:
- Do a new variation every day! (For those who like it super spicy)
- Do a new variation every week! (For those who like it medium spicy)
- Do a new variation every month! (For those who like it mild)
- Do a new variation when you can consistently perform 30 repetitions (or any number you set for yourself) on your current pushup choice! (For those who like number goals irrespective of spicy levels)
Is it safe to do 100 pushups every day? It is safe to do 100 pushups every day! Your body is adaptive. It will adjust to your daily pushup routine. As you do more and more pushups, they will become easier, further lowering the stress and risk on your body.
I wrote a full article on this topic. I heavily researched this question and even spoke to an expert with a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology who does research and teaches for the U.S. military about it. If you would like to know more, click HERE to read the full post.
Why would you do 100 pushups every day? Pushups are a fundamental compound movement for the upper body. They engage many muscles, including, but not limited to: the chest, shoulders, triceps, and abdominals. They are free to do and can be done anywhere at any time. Performing 100 pushups every day is a wonderful challenge for most people to improve size and strength in their upper body. It is also a mental challenge in overcoming mild daily discomfort and in staying dedicated to a long-term fitness routine day-in-and-day-out.
What is proper pushup form? To answer this question, I will defer to Jeff Cavaliere at ATHLENE X. I used his YouTube Video tutorials as my starting point for performing pushups correctly and safely. I highly recommend them. Click these links to watch each video. Watch both of them for optimal results.