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Bodyweight exercises are great tools to build strength, regardless of your fitness level. Even if you have access to a great gym setup, using your own body to build strength and muscle is a nice way to mix things up, and push-ups are one of the best bodyweight chest exercises.

One popular challenge currently making the rounds is the 100 push-ups challenge, which involves doing whatever it takes to complete 100 push-ups a day. This sounds like a great way to build a strong upper body, but that doesn’t mean this challenge is appropriate for everyone.

As a former strength coach and personal trainer, I’ve been working with clients since 2012. I also spoke with Caine Wilkes, USAW-L1, a weightlifting coach who’s also an Olympian to get his thoughts on this challenge. 

Both of us had some immediate concerns when we heard about this challenge, and I’m going to explain everything you need to know in this guide. 

What’s the 100 Push-Ups a Day Challenge?

The 100 push-ups a day challenge is exactly what it sounds like—you do whatever it takes to complete 100 push-ups over the course of the day. There are no rules for the number of push-ups you have to do in each set. You could do them all at once, spread over a 30 to 60-minute workout, or do multiple sets of push-ups throughout the day.

push-up-with-weight-plate-on-back

There are no hard rules about how long to do this challenge. Some have claimed to do this every day for over 1,100 days straight, while other articles claim this is a 30-day challenge, but the pros and cons I’m going to share apply either way.

The challenge is growing in popularity, and at the time of writing, the subreddit “r/100pushups” has over 10,000 members on a quest to perform 100 daily push-ups. 

Push-ups are a great upper-body exercise, and along with pull-ups, are among the most popular bodyweight exercises to build muscle and upper-body strength. However, this is a difficult challenge, there are certainly pros and cons to consider before attempting it.

RELATED: Best Chest Exercises

Pros of 100 Push-Ups a Day

The challenge is popular because many participants see some great benefits after daily push-ups, so let’s start with the pros of this challenge.

Significant Chest and Triceps Training Volume

Regardless of your fitness level, 100 repetitions of any strength exercise is a lot, especially an exercise as challenging as push-ups. The push-up is a compound exercise that trains multiple muscle groups, primarily your pecs, triceps, and deltoids, as well as smaller muscles throughout your body. 

RELATED: What Muscles Do Push-Ups Work?

coop wearing oura wing while doing push ups

When it comes to the chest and triceps, doing this many repetitions every single day should be more than enough to build strength and muscle mass.

Increases Upper Body Strength and Control

While plenty of exercises can target your chest, being strong enough to control your own body weight is a great skill. I’ve seen many beginners or those new to strength training struggle to complete push-ups with good form, so they turn to machines or dumbbells instead, and never go back to push-ups. 

Compared to a dumbbell bench press, push-ups force you to engage other muscles in your upper body, like the biceps, traps, lats, abs, and glutes. A 2022 study1 also found significant activation of the serratus anterior during push-ups, which is one of the rotator cuff muscles that helps stabilize your shoulder joint. 

Cons of 100 Push-Ups a Day

As with most things in fitness, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and this challenge isn’t without its cons. Let’s look at some of the potential negative side effects of performing 100 push-ups a day. 

Beginners May Struggle

We all remember what it was like to struggle with push-ups in the beginning, and if you’re new to exercise, even performing a single repetition with good form may feel impossible. For those who find push-ups challenging, doing 100 reps every single day, with no rest days, may feel nearly impossible. 

If you’re a beginner looking for an alternative plan, read our beginner push-up plan to help you master this exercise. 

No Rest Days for Recovery

The second problem with this challenge is the lack of rest days. Typically with strength training, workout programs are planned to avoid training the same muscle on back-to-back days. This allows the muscle to recover and grow stronger between workouts, something that’s completely missing when you’re doing push-ups every day. 

push-up-program-cover

If you skip rest days, that delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) will likely kick in, and it could become quite painful to do your push-ups.

Studies have shown2 that training a muscle group twice per week is superior to once per week for hypertrophy, but it’s unclear if three or more days is even better. Due to the lack of recovery, I don’t think that training the same muscle every day is a great idea for most people. 

Muscle Imbalances and Injury

When you’re doing 100 repetitions every day for the same movement, you may build up muscle imbalances.  Your chest, shoulders, and triceps will get stronger, and if your back muscles aren’t keeping up, you may find that your chest is stronger than your upper back, causing you to move in a hunched-over position. 

I also asked Caine Wilkes, USAW-L1, who’s an Olympian and weightlifting coach what he thought about this challenge. He said that performing the same movement every day with no rest can lead to achy joints and overuse injuries, something I experienced myself when I developed tendonitis in both elbows from repetitive movements in jiu-jitsu.

Caine said, “The biggest factors I think that sort of program lacks is rest and recovery, and variety. If you’re decent enough at push-ups, you might notice a slight increase in strength at first, but without proper rest and recovery, your muscles will begin to fatigue.

With the added fatigue of overtraining the same muscles daily, you increase your risk of overuse injuries and even muscle imbalance issues over a long-term period. If you want to build your upper body and push-ups, a far better way would be to incorporate push-ups into a varied strength training program that follows progressive overload, and allows for proper rest and recovery.”

No Progressive Overload

While beginners may struggle to complete 100 push-ups, those more advanced in their fitness journey may not find much of a challenge here. An important part of muscle growth is progressive overload, and if you’re doing the same reps every single day, with the same weight, there’s no progression. 

Coop doing push-ups in a home gym

If you love doing push-ups every day but find this challenge to be a bit easy, we’ve got you covered with 17 push-up variations you can try to spice things up.

Should You Do 100 Push-Ups a Day?

From this guide, the cons outweigh the pros pretty heavily, but you may still find yourself confused, or tempted to try this and see what happens. Overall, this isn’t necessarily a bad challenge—I’m talking about you dry scooping pre-workout—but it may cause issues for some. The questions below aren’t comprehensive but may help you determine if this is the best challenge for your goals. If you’re able to answer “Yes” to these questions, then attempting 100 push-ups a day may be a good fit for you. 

  • Do you have healthy elbows and shoulders?
  • Can you perform this many push-ups with proper form?
  • Are you eating well and sleeping enough to recover?

However, if you’re experiencing pain or soreness, or simply don’t want to do this every single day, there are plenty of other options that can help you build a stronger chest. 

Alternatives to Doing 100 Push-Ups a Day

If you like the idea of push-ups but don’t want to do 100 every day, or you’re looking for other ways to build your upper body strength, we’ve got you covered. Here are a couple of alternatives that may work well for you. 

Follow a Structured Training Program

If you’re doing 100 pushups a day, you’re going to have a hard time recovering enough to adequately train the rest of your body. 

For those who want a more balanced approach, consider following a training program that includes exercises for your entire body, as well as rest days throughout the week. Our 6-week beginner workout plan is a great place to start, or you can always hire a personal trainer or fitness coach for a customized one. 

Perform Push-Ups 2 to 3 Days Per Week

If you do enjoy attempting 100 push-ups, but your body can’t keep up with the recovery, try spacing things out. You could attempt this challenge two to three days per week, working another muscle group in between to give your chest and triceps time to recover. 

tire-workouts-tire-push-up

Training daily sounds great, but there’s nothing wrong with using rest days and training your chest several times a week, rather than every single day. Or you could start light your first week, and gradually build up to doing push-ups every day.

100 Push-Ups a Day: Final Thoughts 

While the 100 push-ups a day challenge means well, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. If you’re strong enough to perform this many push-ups with good form, and don’t have any aches or pains in your shoulders and elbows, this may be worth a try. 

However, beginners who aren’t strong enough to do this many push-ups, those with a history of injuries, or anyone who wants to follow a more balanced training plan may wish to choose something else. 

This is a challenge I’d never attempt, and if any clients asked me about this, I’d advise against it. The cons far outweigh the minor pros, and most people would benefit much more from simply following a well-balanced strength training program that doesn’t repeat the same movement for 100 reps every single day. 

100 Push-Ups a Day: FAQs

Will 100 pushups a day make a difference?

If you’re strong enough to do 100 push-ups a day with good form, this is a great way to build strength and muscle in your chest, triceps, and shoulders. However, very advanced athletes may not find this challenging enough to make a significant difference. 

How hard is it to do 100 pushups in a row?

Performing 100 push-ups in a row requires both strength and muscular endurance and is quite challenging for most without regular practice. 

How many pushups a day to get ripped?

Push-ups can help build muscle strength and size, but getting ripped also requires low levels of body fat to see the muscle definition. While push-ups can be part of a dynamic strength-training plan, you’ll also need to make sure your body fat is low enough to achieve the ripped look, which usually requires following a specific nutrition plan to lose fat.

References

  1. Kowalski KL, Connelly DM, Jakobi JM, Sadi J. Shoulder electromyography activity during push-up variations: a scoping review. Shoulder Elbow. 2022;14(3):326-340. doi:10.1177/17585732211019373
  2. Schoenfeld BJ, Ogborn D, Krieger JW. Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2016;46(11):1689-1697. doi:10.1007/s40279-016-0543-8

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