T Nation

Pushups: Worth Doing or Do They Become Mostly Unnecessary?

I usually do about 100 one day a week but haven’t really lately. I’m wondering if there is much difference in doing them or not if you’re doing chest workouts 1-2 times a week.

1 Like

Adding an extra day of chest work via push-ups could be a good way to stimulate more growth, but only if push-ups are hard. It appears that loads as light as a 30RM can stimulate growth, provided the set is taken sufficiently close to failure. It is also important to remember that only the reps close to failure stimulate growth.

Let’s say you did 100 total reps in one session as 35, 29, 25, 11. Assuming each set was to failure, it’s likely that only the last 2-3 sets stimulate growth

Just to be clear, that’s not to say the 100 push-ups strategy won’t work, but the way in which you break down the 100 reps is very important.

2 Likes

I think you mean last 2-3 reps?

Pushups are my main horizontal press. Check this vid out. This technique is not so great for singles, doubles, or triples, but I’ve gone as heavy as a 5RM.

Don’t forget about archer push ups, skydiver pushups, and that push you do with your hands real wide go down to one side stay at the bottom and move your body over to the other side and only once on the other side do you go back up. There’s also plyo pushups. You see plenty of what I would call power pushups but not true plyo pushups where the reversal is nearly instantaneous. Not to mention, even on youtube and insta it’s really hard to find people that do strict one arm pushups.

I prefer pushups because they don’t give me the shoulder problems of bench press and I’ve figured out ways to load them and challenge me as much as I want in as many ways as I want.

I started them out of necessity, but I’ve found that they give me more options and better chest and tri development than I was able to get out of bench.

3 Likes

Theres a lot of ways to make/keep pushups challenging, and as long as you keep that in mind, they are worth doing in my opinion. Theres tons of variations of them, all the way up to stuff like free standing handstand pushups and full planche pushups, so even with bw alone theres potentially a lot you can do with them. You can add weight, superset them with other stuff and so on. I have even read about some martial arts stuff where they will do incredibly slow reps of pushups (and other bw moves) and it has had a big impact on their strength needs. None of this means you have to become a pushup master or anything like that, but it shows you can do a lot with them to keep them challenging and effective.

As a side note, i used to do crazy volume on pushups when i was in my teens and very early 20’s. I went from 100 a day, 5 days a week up to 300 eventually. Then as my volume approach changed, i would have some workouts where my volume was “low” - 200 reps - and some high - 700 reps. No i am not kidding. And twice in a single workout i hit 1000 reps. Again not kidding. I dont know what possessed me to do this exactly, but i got really good at pushups, and could do some if the very hard versions like triple clap pushups and aztec pushups. I am no where near that now lol. After i finished writing this i remembered the motivation…my dad told me about Herschel Walker, and i looked into it…all the motivation i needed at the time

1 Like

If you find doing sets of 20-30 push-ups difficult you can probably gain a fair bit from from doing them. If you can do lots of high rep sets of push-ups fairly easily, it’s mostly just going to be high intensity cardio.

1 Like

Hey guys, I’ve been on over 300 push ups per day for over a month now.
I think @j4gga2 is right. If you did 5 sets of 20 reps I don’t think you would get much hypertrophy compared to sets to failure.
If your gym is open and you train chest twice a week, I think it could still be beneficial to pump up the chest everyday.
Even the pros do push ups to pump up

1 Like

I think if you do the high rep sets really fast it would be as you say. But you could slow the reps down and pause for hypertrophy

I just realised it’s subjective. When I was a teenager I would struggle to get 20 reps. But now even on over 300 a day I’m averaging around 30 reps per regular set. If I had a couple days off I think I would be reaching failure in the high 50s right now. But as the guys have already said, the last reps are the most rewarding

I think I once read that a push up is about 60% of your body weight. Assuming this is “correct -ish” and the average gym rat should be able to bench 100% of body weight - a set of 20 push ups should be fairly comfortable.

Once you move past a body weight bench / 20 reps max set on the push up - keeping the press ups “relevant” is all about how you use them.
At this level, as a main movement they are not brilliant. Unless they are used in very high volume. As in multiple sets of 25-50. But you will still struggle to make significant gains over a long period. Especially with regards to strength. But including hypertrophy.

However as a supplementary movement that are great. I notice an improvement in shoulder health when I do push ups. I’m guessing its to do with the shoulder being free to move more naturally.
They are also good for varying the width. Close grip press ups are great for the triceps.

Using them every day as a non exercise / exercise thing is a good method. To develop pecs I tried lots of tings. In the end I spent 6 weeks working up to doing 100 press ups in one go - and then a few weeks doing this. And boom. I had pecs. 2 years of trying resolved in 10 weeks.

1 Like

I probably didn’t word it well. Since the first set was 35, it would be just outside the regularly accepted range for hypertrophy

1 Like

No worries mate, if anything it’d flush the muscle with some nutrients so you can still have a causal impact on hypertrophy - just not trigger an elevated muscle protein synthesis. And IMHO, that’s a useful tool to have as that set shouldn’t have a negative impact on recovery and actually just be active recovery.

But, if I understood Cameron J. Mitchell et al. J Appl Physiol 2012;113:71-7 correctly, which showed that the hypertrophy response was the same if 30% or 70% of your max RM was used as long as failure was reached. With 30% you should maybe be able to get 35 reps.

1 Like

Ahhh gotcha, that’s my bad then