100 Push-Ups a Day Challenge: Before and After Results
There are lots of ways to push yourself up, meaning that there are lots of ways to do push-ups. There is the standard way, in "plank" position, and variations that make the exercise easier or more difficult.
Any push-up will 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.
The challenge I was interested in was 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.
What Kinds of Push-Ups Should You Do?
When people think of push-ups, they usually think of the standard "plank" style.
- To do a standard push-up, drop down onto your hands and move your feet back while keeping your body off the ground.
- Lower yourself so your chest is almost touching the floor.
- Raise yourself back up so that your arms are nearly fully extended. This completes one repetition.
But to get the most out of the challenge, don't limit yourself to the standard push-ups. Try different variations so you can continue to challenge yourself. I tried some difficult variations, including push-ups with my legs in the air. For an easier push-up, use a set of stairs (as above).
Adding to the Challenge for Results
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
- time between sets
- the speed
You can also add a limited amount of weight. 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 or lift more to build muscle. There should be some pain, though if there is a lot of pain you are probably straining your muscles too much.
If you want to build strength, twelve reps or less per set is a good goal.
- Are Push-Ups Enough? Push-Up Variations to Help You Bulk Up
To see if I could bulk up doing push-ups I switched to some variations that required more strength. I increased the difficulty of each rep to build more muscle with fewer push-ups.
- How to Do Hands-Only Push-Ups
Doing push-ups with your feet in the air can be extremely difficult. It may seem impossible. Make it possible by progressing from one exercise to another. Push up and lift your full body weight.
Before and After the Push-Up Challenge
My Push-Up Challenge Results
For a while, doing push-ups 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 I was lifting (my body weight). My appearance did not change very much, and neither did my strength.
What Happened When I Did the Challenge
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.
- 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.
Tracking Your Progress
Before you start a new workout routine, it is a good idea to take a “before” picture so you can compare to how you look over time. 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.
How to Make the Push-Up Challenge Work
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