The 100 Push-Ups a Day Challenge: What to Expect and Before and After Results

Me doing push-ups.
Me doing push-ups.

An Introduction to Push-Ups

When people think of push-ups, they usually think of the standard push-up. To do a standard push-up, you drop down onto your hands and move your feet back while keeping your body off the ground. Then, you lower yourself so your chest is almost touching the floor. Then raise yourself back up so that your arms are nearly fully extended; this completes one repetition.

Keep these things in mind when it comes to push-ups:

  • There are lots of ways to push yourself up, meaning that there are lots of ways to do push-ups. Some variations are much easier and some are more difficult than the standard push-ups.
  • Push-ups work out the triceps, chest, back, shoulders and, to a lesser extent, the legs. They will not help you build bigger biceps. Pushing with your arms works the triceps, the muscles on the back of your arm. To work your biceps, you need to pull, not push with your arms, for example by doing pull ups and chin ups.
  • Most push-up variations require no equipment and very little space. So you can just drop down and do them almost anywhere at any time. Some variations require a set of stairs, an exercise ball or a heavy backpack.

Me doing incline push-ups on a set of stairs. It is an easier ways to do push-ups.
Me doing incline push-ups on a set of stairs. It is an easier ways to do push-ups.

100 Push-Ups Challenge

The 100-Push-Ups-A-Day challenge means doing 100 push-ups almost every day for six consecutive weeks. Would this challenge be enough to change my appearance and significantly increase my strength? Would I like the results? To answer these questions, I tried the challenge myself. You can try it for yourself at home, with any push-up variation you're comfortable with.

Push-ups are very similar to bench presses; the main difference is the weight involved. In a typical push-up, you only lift about 65% of your body weight. To find out how much weight you are lifting you can do push-ups on a scale, which shows the force with which you are pressing down on the scale. While doing normal push-ups I was lifting about 80 pounds.

Here are my takeaways from participating in the challenge:

  • It felt like a good workout. The push-up routine strained my muscles and tired me out. After the workout, there was some muscle pain. My body needed to heal. At the same time I felt pumped up. That is a good sign. To build muscle, you'll initially cause some minor damage and then let the muscles heal. Doing that over and over again makes the muscles bigger and stronger.
  • I needed to modify the workout to keep it challenging. That proves that my body was changing. If the push-ups were not building muscle, then I would not have needed to change the workout to stop it from becoming too easy. I could tell that my strength and endurance increased. However since the weight I was lifting was not increasing, it felt like I was mainly improving my endurance.
  • For a while it was enough to change my body. My triceps and chest muscles became bigger and more defined. My abs became firmer. I increased my strength and endurance. However the results were very limited because I was not increasing the weight. My appearance did not change very much and neither did my strength.
  • Doing a lot of push-ups is good for toning only. However it will not get you ripped if you're looking to bulk up. You are not going to get big doing 100 regular push-ups 5 or 6 days a week. They will become too easy before that happens. Your appearance probably will not change very much. If you want to build muscle mass then you need more resistance. If you want to slim down than you should also do a lot of cardio.

To get the most out of push-ups, don't limit yourself to the standard push-ups. Try different push-ups variations so you can continue to challenge yourself. After switching my push-up routine I did bulk up doing difficult push-up variations, including push-ups with my legs in the air. Ultimately, however, while it was a good work out, the challenge did not yield apparent results.

Me Before and After the 100 Push-Ups a Day Challenge

Checking Your Progress

Before you start a new workout routine, it is a good idea to take a “before” picture so you can take pictures later and compare them. It is a good way to check your progress. If your strength or endurance increases, then you are making progress. It means you are building muscle.

You can measure the size of your muscles with a ruler or measuring tape. Remember that fat covers your muscles, so losing fat can make your muscles seem smaller while gaining fat can make your muscles seem bigger. Your exercise performance and your before-and-after pictures are probably better measures of your progress.

Challenging Yourself

Challenging yourself means doing things that are difficult. With push-ups you can change the difficulty by changing the type of push-up, the number of reps per set, the number of sets, the duration between sets or the speed. You can also add a limited amount of weight. Twelve reps or less per set is good for focusing on strength. Doing as many as you can at once is good for improving your endurance. If you are not challenging yourself you are not changing your body.

Just going through the motions, doing the same routine over and over again, will probably not do much to change your body. To do that, you will have to either burn more calories than you have been burning, or strain your muscles enough to build muscle. There should be some pain, though if there is a lot of pain you are probably straining your muscles too much.

Me doing push-ups while wearing a heavy backpack. It is a harder way to do push-ups.
Me doing push-ups while wearing a heavy backpack. It is a harder way to do push-ups.

General Fitness Tips

A push-up challenge alone may not meet your fitness goal. You may want to find an alternative exercise or supplement the push-ups, depending on your goal:

  • Fat and weight loss. A push-up routine by itself is not enough to lose a significant amount weight; in fact, it is more likely to cause you to gain weight as you build muscle. Although push-ups can help you lose fat, because cardio and strength training together work better than cardio, if you are exercising to lose weight you should be doing cardio. Exercises that give the legs and cardiovascular system a good workout burn the most calories per minute and help most with weight loss: for example, running, biking, jumping rope, and step-ups.
  • Rest is crucial. If you continue to challenge yourself but don't seem to be getting stronger—that is, your performance stays the same or even decreases over a few days—then your muscles probably need more time to recover. Exercising too much can stop you from building muscle. So can a lack of good quality sleep. Your muscles heal and become stronger while you are sleeping.
  • There’s a limit to the amount of weight involved in a push-up. On a bench press, it is easier to add weight or change the weight. Lots of people say that weightlifting is far better than push-ups for building muscle. Of course most of these people never gave push-ups a chance; that is why I wanted to find out for myself by doing the challenge.

© 2014 Michael H

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Alphadogg16 2 years ago from Texas

Very interesting hub mikejhca. I have always done push ups since my army days, but have never actually isolated doing just push ups, but I have read they are very effective. Hershel Walker allegedly did 1000 push ups a day and never used weights. Thumbs up on your hub.

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