How Many Push-Ups Should You Do A Day? Here's What Trainers Say

If the answer isn't one, I'm leaving.

Here's how many push-ups you should do a day for best results.

Seeing as they’re one of the tougher exercises out there, you probably don’t wake up wondering how many push-ups you should do in a day. (Is the answer zero? No?) They’re tiring and require a lot of muscle recruitment, but you do have to admit that push-ups are an effective way to build strength.

The push-up is a classic bodyweight-based exercise that gives your entire upper body a good workout, says Theresia Daniel, a NASM-certified personal trainer. They work your pec muscles — aka the front of your chest — as well as your triceps and anterior deltoids in your shoulders, she tells Bustle.

Because you have to hold yourself in a plank position at the top of the motion, the move also targets your core and challenges your stability. “You need good control of your core muscles to keep you in the push-up position,” Daniel says. As an added bonus, she says your wrists get some exercise, too, as they work to keep you steady.

Push-ups are also a good move to improve your posture. “They engage your back muscles and, when done properly, you get that nice alignment from the crown of the head to tailbone that lengthens your spine,” says Whitney Berger, CPT, a certified personal trainer and founder of WhitFitNYC.

The push-up may be a super basic move, but it’s one that can be done anytime you need a quick workout or don’t have any equipment, says fitness trainer Lois Manzella Marchitto. “They have so many advantages, they are versatile, and they’re good for all fitness levels,” she tells Bustle. So, how many push-ups should you do in a day in order to reap the most benefits? Read on for what trainers recommend. (I’m holding out for one to be the magic number.)

How Many Push-Ups To Do A Day


How many push-ups you do in a day will vary depending on your fitness level and your goals. To zero in on the amount that’s right for you, start by figuring out why you want to do them, says Daniel.

If you’re a beginner who’s looking to improve your upper body strength, Daniel recommends doing as many push-ups as you can while maintaining good form — even if it’s just one. “Practice either every day or every other day,” she tells Bustle. “When you’re new to exercising, it’s important not to overdo it. The key is to remain consistent and listen to your body.”

Once you’re able to do one push-up with good form, Marchitto recommends slowly building up to 10 to 20 reps a day. That’ll strike a balance where you’re working your muscles without over-training them. If you get to a point where 20 push-ups feel like a breeze, that’s when you can aim to do even more.

For a true challenge, go for 100 push-ups a day. “They don’t have to be done all at once,” Daniel says. (Phew.) “You can break it up into 10 sets of 10 or four sets of 25. Doing rep challenges while focusing on form can be a fun way to work differently with a basic exercise.”

In general, how many push-ups you do isn’t as important as how well you do them. “Doing fewer push-ups with good form is better than doing many push-ups with bad form, especially if you are a beginner,” Daniel says. “Every rep is essentially teaching your body how you want it to perform, so it's better to get in as many good reps as you can.”

Using bad form not only lessens the benefits of the move by focusing on the wrong muscles, but it can also lead to an injury. “If you’re experiencing pain — not muscle fatigue — while doing push-ups, you should take a video of yourself and see if there’s anything obvious that you’re doing wrong,” Daniel recommends.

How To Do Push-Ups With Good Form

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Here, Marchitto breaks down how to do push-ups in proper form.

- Start on the floor in a quadruped position.

- Place your hands by your chest, just a little wider than shoulder-width apart.

- Extend your legs back behind you with knees and feet hip-width apart.

- Look down the whole time to keep your neck neutral and your back straight.

- Maintain a slight diagonal line between your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles.

- Engage your core and glutes.

- Bend your elbows to lower your body in a straight line down to the floor.

- Hover just above the floor.

- Engage your shoulders to push into the floor.

- Raise back up with your body in a straight line.

- If your form starts to fail, take a break.

How To Get Better At Push-Ups


If your goal is to get better at doing push-ups, all you have to do is, well, more push-ups. “If you are really sore after doing 20 push-ups, practice half of that amount until you build up more strength,” says Daniel.

As you work on getting stronger, it’s totally OK to modify your push-up by dropping your knees down. “Some people also use an elevated surface instead of putting their hands on the floor, which makes it less difficult and more effective for people who cannot do a full push-up on the floor,” says Daniel. “Don’t be afraid to modify the exercise to fit your specific needs.”

It’s also important to take breaks as you train — so don’t feel as though you absolutely need to do push-ups every single day. “The body needs time to recover and integrate the new movements you are teaching it,” Daniel adds. “Recovery might look like taking a rest day or two, practicing joint mobility to make sure you are able to work through your full range of motion, eating nourishing meals, and getting enough sleep.” With time and practice, you’ll be on your way to becoming a bona fide push-up master.

Studies referenced:

Calatayud, J. (2014). Muscle Activation during Push-Ups with Different Suspension Training Systems. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 13(3), 502-510.

Kim, S. (2016). Effect of the push-up exercise at different palmar width on muscle activities. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 28(2), 446-449.


Theresia Daniel, NASM-certified personal trainer

Lois Manzella Marchitto, fitness trainer

Whitney Berger, CPT, certified personal trainer, founder of WhitFitNYC