Push-Up Workout Routine

The push-up is a universal exercise that can be performed by men and women at almost any ageThe push-up is a universal exercise that can be performed by men and women at almost any age


What Muscles Do Push-Ups Work and How Many Reps Should You Do?

All you need is 5–10 minutes per day and a firm surface. No equipment required!All you need is 5–10 minutes per day and a firm surface. No equipment required!

Push-ups are a highly effective exercise for building muscle. Several muscle groups work simultaneously during a push-up. Everything depends on the kind of push-up and technique of its performance.

The classic push-up targets the chest, triceps, abdominal and back muscles. If you want to gain muscle mass, you should not perform a large number of reps in this exercise.

High repetitions of push-ups would improve your muscular endurance, but would not increase the muscle size. To work your triceps, place your hands close to each other, directly under your chest while performing the exercise, and to target your chest muscles, place them wider than shoulder-width apart. To strengthen your wrists, do knuckle or finger push-ups.

It is rather difficult to determine the optimal number of reps to build muscle. Everything depends on the goal. For example, athletes who do martial arts perform 100 or more push-ups at their workouts. Bodybuilders prefer to do 4–5 sets of 12–15 reps using extra weights. Beginners can start with modified knee push-ups and gradually proceed to the regular technique.

To increase the load, place your feet on top of a flat object, for example, stool. If your goal is to build bigger muscles, you should perform low reps with the maximum load that allows you to maintain proper form.

Proper Push-Up Technique

Remember that a muscle gets “pumped up” only when you feel tension on it. Therefore, you should learn to feel every muscle in your body.

It is important to maintain proper form when doing push-ups: keep your back straight, do not raise your butt above your body. The starting position is on the extended arms. Bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest is a few inches above the floor. Do not touch the ground with your chest. Breathe properly: inhale as you lower to the floor and exhale as you push back up to the starting position.

Distribution of the weight and load is directly dependent on your hand position. A wide push-up, meaning your hands are wide apart, targets mainly the outer chest and deltoid muscles. Placing your hands closer together works your inner chest muscles and triceps.

By changing your body position you can change the load. If you want to target the lower part of your chest, perform incline push-ups by placing your upper body higher than your lower body, and if you want to build your upper pectoral muscles and deltoids, place your feet higher than your head.


Push-ups are very beneficial. Here are the main advantages:

Muscular strength There are special training programs which will be discussed below, that help build muscle mass fast. If you strictly follow the instructions, you will definitely succeed
Promotion of well-being Push-ups stimulate the cardiovascular and muscular systems. Even if you do twenty push-ups, the frequency of contraction of your cardiac muscle will increase, and more blood will get to your muscles. Fat burning is another benefit of push-ups.
Keeping fit

Those who do not play sports, sometime face a problem when their muscles get too tight, and it gets harder to lose weight and get in shape. Push-ups can help you build muscle and stay in shape.

Even young people, who temporarily stopped visiting a gym, start to feel uncomfortable. Therefore, the easiest way to look nice is doing push-ups only, if you have no time or desire to perform multiple exercises.

Sample Training Plan

By following this schedule for 6 weeks you will significantly improve the quantity and quality of your push-ups. It is more suitable for beginners than for skilled athletes. Work out two or three times a week giving your muscles enough time to recover:

  • The first week: complete eight push-ups on your first set, then rest for a minute, do six repetitions and have a break again. The next two sets perform four push-ups. Within the fifth set do the maximum number of push-ups.
  • The second week: the plan is the same. You can reduce the rest time between the sets.
  • The third week: increase the number of reps by 1–2 reps per set.
  • The fourth week: your muscles will get stronger, and it will be easier for you to perform the exercise. You should increase the number of your push-ups. Complete as many reps as you can to failure.
  • The fifth week: continue to increase the number of push-ups, at least by ten per set. Rest between the sets should last 30–60 seconds.
  • The sixth week: by this time you will improve your muscular strength and endurance, and you will be able to do a hundred push-ups in total during a workout. Your muscle mass will increase as well. Despite the simplicity of the program, it is easy to achieve the result. When the muscles become stronger and more durable, 100 push-ups is not a limit for them.

After these six weeks of training you should continue doing push-ups. By increasing the number of reps per each set you will improve your muscular endurance; by adding extra weight to your upper body you will build more muscle.


These recommendations can help you achieve the result faster:

  1. Do not use various training programs simultaneously. In this case their efficiency decreases several times. To achieve good results, you should follow a single workout program. In 2 or 3 months you should change it.
  2. Do not forget to develop other muscle groups and perform alternative exercises as well. Diversify your workouts – it will allow you to build muscle much faster.
  3. Drink enough water to prevent dehydration that can negatively affect your health and well-being. Consume the recommended amount of drinking water each day.
  4. Never skip your workouts even if you have a lot of important things to do. Always find time to exercise.
  5. While doing push-ups, breathe properly and engage your core to keep your body straight and avoid sagging.

Frequently Asked Questions

I do 5 sets of 20 push-ups every day. Why am I not making progress?

Your muscles have got used to the load. Your body does not need to grow more muscle because it copes with the tasks you set for it. Try to do 4 sets of 30 reps. Further, shock your muscles by changing your workout routine, and do not allow them to get used to the load.

How many push-ups should I do to get bigger arms?

The answer to this question is individual. Push-ups without using additional weights will bring you to a certain level. High reps in the sets will not increase your muscle mass and size, but will improve your muscular endurance.

If you do push-ups without extra weights easily, we recommend you to gradually add plates – 5 kg, then 10 kg and so on. 5 sets of 20 narrow-grip push-ups with extra weight of 20 kg can build rather big arm muscles. If you want more – go ahead!

Guinness World Records for Push-ups

There are athletes who have achieved amazing results in the number of push-ups. All of them are registered in the Guinness World Records:



Most Push-Ups in 24 Hours

46001 (Charles Servizio)

Most Non-Stop Push-Ups

10507 (Minoru Yoshida)

Most One Arm Push-Ups In One Minute

157 (Georgy Basilashvili)

How many push-ups can you do? Share your results in the comments.

Shalukhin Alexander
Shalukhin Alexander
Personal trainer, sports doctor, physical therapist
  • Builds individualized exercise programs and leads personal training sessions;
  • Specializes in sports traumatology and physiotherapy;
  • Provides classic therapeutic and sports massage sessions;
  • Conducts research studies on new exercise and recovery techniques;
  • Chief website editor. Writes articles on sports injuries and sports supplements reviews.


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