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Why 100 Push-Ups a Day is a Bad Idea (and What You Should Do Instead)

There are more constructive ways you can build muscle using your bodyweight.

Sometimes fitness challenges are fun for that exact reason – they challenge you. You could try the Mike Tyson push-up challenge that takes only 10 minutes and it is gruesome. But if you plan on doing 100 push-ups a day for a long period, maybe think again. This is why 100 push-ups a day is a bad idea and what you should do instead.

Mike Tyson Push-Up Challenge

The person who is advocating for you to rethink your 100 push-ups a day challenge is Jeff Cavaliere. Jeff Cavaliere was the head physical therapist of the New York Mets for 3 years and is now a YouTube sensation. He delivers clear information without noise on his ATHLEAN-X YouTube channel.

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Why 100 Push-Ups a Day is a Bad Idea (and What You Should Do Instead)

The allure of 100 push-ups a day workouts is undeniable, promising a straightforward and easy-to-remember routine that can lead to significant gains in chest and arm muscles. Many individuals have tried this approach for varying durations, from 30 days to a year, and have reported noticeable results. However, it’s essential to consider whether this routine is the most effective use of your time and whether there might be a more optimal approach.

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athlete does bar facing burpee ukraine Training Principles you Should Apply to YourselfSource: Bastien Plu / Unsplash

While the increased volume of push-ups in daily routines can contribute to muscle adaptation and size gains in the chest, arms, and shoulders, there are potential downsides to this method. Setting the number at exactly 100 push-ups may only match the ability levels of around 3 percent of participants, making it challenging to accommodate different fitness levels. Moreover, excessive volume, especially when performed below one’s capability levels, can lead to junk volume, where the exercise serves little to no purpose in muscle progression and may even cause joint irritation and inflammation.

Focusing solely on push-ups for an extended period without considering other muscle groups can lead to muscle imbalances and postural issues, such as rounded shoulders. A more well-rounded approach is essential to promote balanced muscle development and prevent potential posture-related problems.

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One alternative approach is to perform push-ups in sets, rather than a fixed number of repetitions, to better match individual ability levels. For instance, people who can do 60-75 push-ups in a set will be less challenged by a 100 push-ups a day routine compared to those who can only manage 5-10 reps per set. To equalize the stress, individuals can do 5 sets, stopping 5 reps short of muscle failure. This approach allows for better recovery, especially when doing consecutive daily workouts.

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Incorporating the Superman Press-out exercise immediately after each set of push-ups can also be beneficial. The Superman Press-out targets often neglected muscles, such as the rotator cuff and rhomboids, helping to counteract the potential postural shoulder rounding caused by overworking the chest muscles. This combination of push-ups and Superman Press-outs provides a more well-rounded routine, enhancing muscle development while addressing potential imbalances and posture issues.

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How Many Push-Ups Should You Be Able to Do

Ultimately, while the 100 push-ups a day workout may yield results for some, a more personalized and balanced approach is likely to be more effective and sustainable in the long run. Customizing the routine to individual ability levels and incorporating complementary exercises can optimize muscle gains while minimizing the risk of overuse injuries and imbalances.

As with any exercise plan, it’s essential to listen to your body, be mindful of proper form, and consider seeking guidance from fitness professionals for a tailored program that best suits your needs and goals.

For a full explanation from Cavaliere himself, watch the video below.

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Pros of Doing Bodyweight Exercises

There are also many other reasons to start doing calisthenics besides a leaner, but strong physique:

  • Do it anywhere – as it usually utilises bodyweight, you can do most of the movements anywhere, even while on vacation.
  • Joint strength – when you start progressing to other movement standards, you will require your joints to do extra work to hold your body weight. That is simply not used during normal gym exercises.
  • Strength everywhere – you will work out your entire body. No more “skip leg” days.
  • Impress anyone – this can sound a bit pathetic, but you will definitely impress people around you if you can perform some of the more advanced movements.
  • Inexpensive – you can do many exercises with nothing but your sheer will, or you can find a bar at a playground or buy your own and incorporate even more exercises into your routine.
  • Great for weight loss – as this type of training involves multiple muscle groups, it usually burns more calories than common cardio and adds to your overall energy expenditure.
pull up back workouts What Muscles Do Pull Ups WorkSource: CrossFIt Inc

Cons of Doing Bodyweight Exercises

The good thing about calisthenics is that there are not many downsides to doing it. After all, since when is doing bodyweight workouts bad for you? It is not. So what are the disadvantages of doing calisthenics?

  • No bulking – if you are looking to get ripped with giant muscles, your best bet is to do powerlifting and stick to the gym. Bodyweight exercises will get you fit, but a more lean-looking physique.
  • Not great if you are recovering – if you had surgery or are doing physical therapy, calisthenics will not help you, and could potentially injure you even further. Bodyweight exercises are fundamental, but you are still lifting a lot of weight, whereas in a gym you can strengthen your leg by lifting literally any weight you want.
  • You can hit a plateau – when you start training, you want to keep progressing, and that can be tricky or disappointing when doing calisthenics because you will only use your body weight. Weight training is easier, you just add more weight, but with calisthenics you need to find ways to challenge yourself more utilizing the only weight you have available.

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When it comes to bodyweight exercises, there are several principles that you should definitely follow to maximize your results and ensure safety:

  1. Proper Form and Technique: Focus on maintaining correct form and technique throughout each exercise. This helps target the intended muscles effectively and reduces the risk of injury. Start with proper alignment, engage the targeted muscles, and execute each movement with control and stability.
  2. Progression: Progression is key to continuously challenge your muscles and stimulate growth. As you get stronger, gradually increase the difficulty of your bodyweight exercises. This can be achieved by adding variations, increasing repetitions or sets, adjusting leverage or range of motion, or incorporating advanced progressions.
  3. Full Range of Motion: Perform exercises through their full range of motion, aiming for a complete extension and contraction of the muscles involved. This ensures that you engage the muscles fully and enhances flexibility and mobility.
  4. Balanced Routine: Include a variety of bodyweight exercises that target different muscle groups to create a well-rounded routine. Balance upper body, lower body, and core exercises to avoid muscle imbalances and promote overall strength and stability.
  5. Consistency and Frequency: Consistency is crucial for progress. Aim to perform bodyweight exercises regularly, ideally 2-3 times per week or more, depending on your goals and fitness level. Consistency over time leads to improved strength, endurance, and muscle development.
  6. Proper Warm-up and Cool-down: Before starting your bodyweight workout, warm up with dynamic stretches or light cardio to increase blood flow, loosen up the joints, and prepare the muscles for exercise. Afterward, cool down with static stretches to improve flexibility and promote recovery.
  7. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body’s signals and adjust the intensity or modify exercises as needed. Respect your limits and avoid pushing yourself to the point of pain or excessive fatigue. Gradually progress while being mindful of any discomfort or signs of overexertion.
  8. Rest and Recovery: Allow your body sufficient time to rest and recover between workouts. Muscles need time to repair and grow stronger after exercise. Incorporate rest days into your routine and prioritize sleep and proper nutrition to support recovery.
  9. Adaptability: Bodyweight exercises can be adapted to various fitness levels and settings. Whether you’re a beginner, have limited space or equipment, or prefer home workouts, bodyweight exercises offer flexibility and versatility.
  10. Enjoyment and Sustainability: Choose bodyweight exercises that you enjoy and can sustain in the long run. Find variations and progressions that challenge you while keeping your workouts engaging and fun. Enjoying your workouts increases adherence and helps you stay motivated.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified fitness trainer before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have underlying health conditions or injuries.

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