Push-ups in Muscle Building: How Many You Should Do in a Day?

Man doing push-ups image

It is probably the most commonly used strengthening workout in the world, yet many still ask: how many push-ups do you need to do in a day to build muscles? To fittingly answer this question, we have to delve not only into the rudimentary mechanics and variations of the exercise but also its direct effects on the basic physiology of muscle growth.

Perhaps every single person at the age of puberty and older living in any civilized country in the world is no stranger to push-ups. It was taught to us in our Phys. Ed. class, we do it as a part of body conditioning routine for various athletic or performance activities, and probably there is at least one person in the planet doing push-ups in his or her own home at any given time.

Moreover, the push-up is one of the most commonly used exercises to test one’s strength and fitness condition, particularly when you are applying to join the police or firefighters’ force, any branches of the military, or any other physically demanding jobs for that matter.

Fundamental Facts About Push-ups

Although many view push-ups as a tedious and an unexciting workout, it is actually a compound exercise. Granted that it is basically a closed kinetic chain (CKC) movement, meaning the hands and feet stayed in place during the whole sequence, it actually works out various muscles and joints simultaneously. While it primarily builds and strengthens the pectorals (chest) and the triceps, it also impacts several ancillary muscles including those in your biceps, shoulders, back, abdomen, and legs.

The push-up is probably the most apposite resistance training for any healthy teen or adult person, regardless of your gender, body type, built, age, and personal fitness goal. It is also among the most versatile as any slight variations you try such as changing the distance and orientation of your hands, the incline or position of your body and legs, and the speed and extent of your movements can cause a shift of emphasis on other muscles.

Push-up and Some of its Many Variations

  • Standard Push-up

    You begin by lying face down on the floor with your entire body supported by your palms and toes. Your arms are stretched downward with your hands aligned with your shoulders and with fingers facing forward. Lower your upper body by bending your arms at the elbow until your chest is just about a fist away from the floor then return up to the starting position. Repeat several times with the legs and torso kept straight during the whole sequence.

  • Push-up Heel Kick Up

    This variation also works out your legs and buttocks. From the same starting position as the standard push-up, raise one leg from the floor and bend it at the knee so that the heel is facing the sky. You will do the same up and down sequence as normal push-up, except every time your upper body is on the high position you will kick up the raised leg as high as you can. Do 10-15 reps and then switch to the other leg and do the same to make one set.

  • Yoga Push-up

    While your toes and palms are almost the same as in a standard push-up, your body is bent at the waist and your buttocks are raised high to start this exercise. This jackknife-like position is almost similar as the “down dog” yoga pose, except your feet are not flat on the floor. You will do the downward push-up sequence with your arms and upper body but as you go up again by stretching back your arms, you will ease your body into the “up dog” yoga position by lowering your hips and raising your head up. Do 12-15 reps to make one set.

How many push-ups a day to build muscles?

To answer our main question, we need to take a glimpse on how muscles grow. Besides getting ample nourishment from a proper diet, muscle fibers must be subjected repeatedly to heavy loads or forces of resistance until micro-tears happen to them. That is why you should feel slight pains in your muscles when you are on training them.

As you rest after a workout or as you sleep later that night, a cellular activity will happen inside your body wherein your system will repair the damaged fibers. During this process, several new muscle protein strands called myofibrils will be also be formed, thus increasing your muscle mass and strength.

However, our body is the most adaptable living organism on earth. That is why after exposing our muscles to the same workout regimen for an extended period, it doesn’t cause micro-tears to them anymore as much as before, so the growth stops. Bodybuilders call it the plateau stage.

That is why you need to progressively add weights and/or the number of sets and repetition to your workout as you go along. It is also pertinent that you change your workout routine every 6-8 weeks so you can keep shocking your muscles until they shred.

Final Words

If you are a total beginner, start by doing at least 60 counts of standard push-up a day for 4-5 times a week. You can divide them into 4 sets of 15 reps, 5 sets of 12 reps or 6 sets of 10 reps, whichever you can initially manage.

Add another push-up variation to your workout after 2 weeks, this time try to make a total of 90 counts a day between the two exercises. Continue to add variations every two weeks while at the same time progressively upping the total number of repetitions.

Don’t forget to breathe in for every downward movement and breathe out every upward phase.

Chester Peterson is the founder of HeroMuscles.Com and the father of two children. I workout every day and I really want to share my knowledge and experience about my passion on this blog. Thanks for dropping by and please leave a comment if you have something to say. You can also connect with me on Twitter