The pushup is regarded as the perfect exercise, but how many pushups should you do to build muscle? A pushup will engage your whole body from the top to the bottom since it works most of the muscle groups – hips, abdomen/core, arms, chest, and the legs, all at once. But how many pushups do you need to do every day?
Well, before we look at the numbers, it’s crucial for you to understand why pushups are an integral part of your fitness plan, how to do a pushup correctly (many people do pushups incorrectly), and the types of pushups for building chest/ pectoral muscles.
In a study conducted by top researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, men who do pushups regularly have a reduced risk of heart disease.
In this study, the firefighters who did at least 40 pushups have a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular problems, by a whopping 96%. With nearly half of adults in the US dealing with one form of cardiovascular disease or the other (from statistics collected in 2016), it’s believed that pushups would be an invaluable tool to not only help deal with the cardiovascular issues, it could also serve as a good test for men’s cardiovascular diseases.
As a skinny guy who could be at risk of cardiovascular illnesses later in life and someone keen on bulking up and having bigger chest muscles, pushups would be the best thing for you.
Pushups are also regarded as the perfect exercise because there are different ways of doing pushups, and greater results could be achieved easily by adjusting the speed of performing the pushup, the placement of your hands, or by changing the angle of the body.
The other interesting piece of information about pushups is that your ability to do pushups can also be regarded as a signal for wellness and good health.
No other exercise would surpass the power and the effectiveness of a simple pushup because it not only takes a lot of strength to do the pushup, but it also takes a great degree of endurance. The plank pushup is the toughest. This plank combines the core workout of a plank, with the arm, shoulder and back workout routines of a push up. There’s nothing that makes time move slower than a 1-minute plank.
But it’s more than just the plank; the pushup is your ultimate fitness barometer; it tests your whole body, and as mentioned above, it engages all the muscle groups in the chest, abdomen, arms, legs, and the hips. For all this to happen, your body needs to be in a taut, plank-like position with your palms and toes on the floor.
Once in the plank position, you must lift and lower the entire weight of your body. Doing this is not easy, even for the super-fit individuals – when you do a pushup, you use your body and your body weight, and it’s a tough fitness exercise for anyone.
In addition to being the test of fitness, pushups tell you more about your body’s strength and whether you will be able to protect your wrists in case of a fall. In the pushup position, the wrists carry the weight of the body, and pushups would strengthen your wrists.
How Many Pushups A Day To Build Chest Muscle
While pushups work the whole body from the top to the bottom, the chest has been shown to gain a lot from pushups. They cause an increased level of activity in the chest muscles, especially if you perform a pushup with your hands halfway inward from the normal position you’d place the hands. Note that you work the triceps more when you place your hands outwards.
So, which is the best way for you to get the most out of the pushups for your chest, how do pushups encourage the bulking of the chest muscles, and how many pushups do you need to do in a day to build the chest muscle?
A pushup is the most effective kind of exercise for anyone interested in working their entire upper body. However, most guys interested in strengthening their upper body, specifically the chest, fail to attain their goals.
The reason for this is that most of the guys who workout without the help of a professional trainer do standard pushups, with hands placed right beneath the shoulders, and in the process, you end up working the triceps rather than the chest.
To encourage muscle growth around the pecs (chest area/ pectoral muscle), you need to transfer the weight of your body to the pectoral muscles by changing how you do a pushup.
Essentially, you need to place your hands wider than your shoulders. You create a challenge on the pecs when you push your hands further apart.
Pushups for chest muscles – How many pushups a day to build chest muscle?
There is no magic number where pushups are concerned, and you will not always get it right the first time. In fact, you may be unable to do one pushup on the first day, or your body may handle only two pushups.
Regardless of how hard you start out, you must be persistent, pushing your body to do more pushups each day.
Before we look at the average number of pushups that you need to be doing each day. Can you do a pushup correctly?
The Perfect Pushup Form
- Get started in the full-plank position with the arms extended and the palms flat on the floor, just below the shoulder level.
- Keep your feet together or about 12 inches apart. Rest on the feet’s balls.
- Keep the back straight and your entire body weight distributed evenly
- Look down and then lower your body all the way down until your elbows are perched at 90 degrees. If you are finding it hard to do that, go all the way down to the floor for a moment to give your body time to rest. With your elbows at 90 degrees, push back up all the way – this completes one rep. For the best results, take 2 seconds when pushing down and 1 second to go back up.
To work the pectoral muscles, you will have to be in the straight plank form as in the standard above, but now, your arms will be wider and out rather than in.
While a regular pushup, described above, allows you to lift between 50 and 75% of your total body weight, not everyone can do the full pushup with ease the first or the 10th time, hence the modified pushup.
The modified pushup involves keeping your knees on the floor as you maintain a straight plane for the rest of your body, with the arms wider and out from the shoulder position. In the modified position, you lift 36-45% of your total body weight.
So, while some people can do as many as 50 pushups daily, and this number would be your target as you grow your chest muscles, we recommend starting with 5 or 8 pushups, increasing the number of sets as you grow stronger.
How to do a pushup targeting the Pecs
Note: this pushup will be tough on your small muscles, specifically the ones in the shoulders. To reduce the pain and the resistance the first time you do this pushup, start with a warm-up pushup (standard pushup) – go for 5-8 reps of the standard pushup.
If you feel up to the task:
- Walk out your hands some inches to the sides and then for 5-8 reps of the wide-hand pushups that target the pectoral muscles.
- Once your body acclimatizes to this (you may need more than a few days/ weeks to build up your strength and complete all the 8 reps), you’ll need to move your hands to the widest possible position that allows you to hold a perfect pushup form – in this position; your body should be in a straight line from the head to the heels. Go for 5-8 reps.
We recommend going for 3 sets of 5-8 reps when starting out. You can build up the number with time.
The Best Pushups for lean chest muscle
The Original/ Foundation/ Cornerstone/ Wide Pushups
This is the most basic, but also the most effective pushup for building a leaner chest. Regardless of your fitness plan, you need strong pectoral muscles, and that is where this cornerstone pushup comes in.
- The Start Position: Place your hands down on the floor with the palms down, the arms extended, and your body in a straight line, toes on the floor. Keep your hands even with the chest – not near your shoulders or down next to the belly. With hands staying even to your chest, the pecs are targeted, as well as the triceps.
- In this position, lower your upper body down until the chest touches the floor lightly and then push your body all the way up to the start position. Exhale on your way up and inhale on your way down.
- To make the pushup harder, increase your hands’ width.
If you are new to all this, go for the modified version, mentioned above.
If you are looking for a pushup to enhance your chest strength, the Decline pushup could be it – You do this pushup in the decline position, and it creates a lot of resistance. It’s very challenging, and we don’t recommend it for beginners.
But if you are up for the challenge, you start the pushup in the normal start position, but then you’d have to elevate your feet (on a bench or any other good support), keeping the rest of the body close to a position that’s parallel to the floor. Next, lower the body down in a very slow, controlled motion, bending your elbows slowly until your face is inches off the floor.
Note that the decline pushup strains the wrists, arms, and elbows, and you should be careful with the exercise.
The other pushups that will boost the growth of your chest muscles include:
- Bench/ incline pushup
- Diamond or the Tricep pushups (hands form a diamond shape)
- Stagger Plyo pushup
- Superman pushups
- One-arm pushups
- Clapping pushups
Some of these pushups work the triceps, and this is important because the muscles are interconnected, and you cannot have strong triceps and weak chest muscles.
Conclusion – How many pushups a day to build chest muscles?
As mentioned above, the number of pushups you need to do in a day is not written in stone, and how far you can go depends on your training level, diet, among other features.
However, if you are not struggling with pushups, you should be able to do about 20 pushups each day, and you can increase the number gradually.
At the beginner level, work towards 3 sets of 5 reps each, at the intermediate level or after a week or two, do 3 sets of 10 reps each, and by the 4th week, you should be able to do 3 sets of 20 reps.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, though – it may take time, but you will be amazed by the strength and the endurance of your body, as well as the broadening chest – all in a few months of consistent pushups.