Man does a push-up, 100 push-ups a day

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Should You Do 100 Push-Ups a Day?

A key aspect of your fitness journey is setting goals. Just make sure they’re the right ones.

By Eric ArnoldJanuary 9, 2024


If you were a child in the ‘80s, ‘90s, or ‘00s, you likely have memories of the Presidential Fitness Test, which encouraged students to achieve a certain number of curl-ups, sit-ups and, of course, push-ups.  You may have even had a gym teacher instill in you the idea that if you could do a certain number of push-ups in one go, say 100, you were fit and strong.

Of course, we know now that being able to complete 100 push-ups each day isn’t necessarily the barometer of peak physical fitness. Still, either because of outdated ideas about health or social media influences, there’s a pervasive idea that if you can do a crazy amount of push-ups, you’re a fitness demon. (And you very well may be.) But before you set a goal of doing 100 push-ups every day, bear some considerations in mind.

Why Would You Do 100 Push-Ups a Day?

Why do challenges like this even exist? For the same reason any other demonstration of strength and stamina does: It’s a time-honored way to engage in some friendly competition. Just think back to those childhood years of seeing who could run to the end of the block and back the fastest. 

Our basic human instinct to compete has a profound benefit that extends beyond fitness: setting, adhering to, and achieving personal goals. “Sticking to goals can be challenging,” says Peloton instructor Rad Lopez. “But [doing 100 push-ups] is an achievable one.” However, he’s quick to point out that the 100- challenge is just something; it’s not everything. “We should always train holistically to optimize our performance throughout our daily lives,” he says. “100 s can be paired with it all.” It’s just one aspect of your broader fitness goals.

It’s the same as setting the number of miles you want to ride or run each month or how many squats you can do. A goal is a goal—and that, in itself, can be a great motivator.

Is It Safe to Do 100 Push-Ups a Day? 

There are plenty of people who can do 100 push-ups a day (or more) without thinking much of it. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe for everyone to attempt. You need to work your way up to the magic number. That means figuring out and starting with your baseline, taking rest days, and trying to improve incrementally—just like any other form of exercise. Your first ride on the Peloton bike wasn’t a 60-minute climb class, so attempting 100 push-ups right after you finish reading this sentence isn’t necessarily a great idea either. It takes a methodical approach. 

You know your own body best. If you have shoulder, elbow, wrist or other upper body issues, be mindful of them as you progress toward 100 push-ups. Aggravating a muscle or joint could set you back weeks or even months on your fitness journey. 

Man practices push-ups, 100 push-ups a day

The Benefits of Doing 100 Push-Ups a Day

Yes, Rad can do 100 push-ups in a day, but bear in mind two things. One, he’s a fitness instructor—it’s his job to stay strong. And two, he doesn’t do all 100 at once. “I can do about 70 push-ups in one go,” he says. “100 would be really difficult, but with consistency it’s possible! A lot of consistency.”

All in, he still does squeeze in 100 or more push-ups per day, but it was never a goal of his. “I just wanted to make sure I got in some form of exercise even on the days I didn’t quite feel like doing so,” he says. “Even on leg days I try to do my 100. It’s quick and efficient even on the days I’m feeling a bit lazy.”

Doing 100 push-ups a day can be an impactful element of your overall strength-building and -maintaining routine. And you don’t need to be at a gym to do them. “It’s a quick and efficient way to strengthen some upper body muscles,” Rad says. “It is a bodyweight move that can be done virtually anywhere.” 

But, over time, you also need to supplement your push-ups with other exercises. “I pair my goal of 100 s a day with 100 pull-ups a day, covering my push and pull movement patterns, and my front and back muscles,” Rad says. He also suggests picking up some dumbbells and doing seated rows, bent-over rows, and chest presses—all exercises that target the muscles you’ll need performing at their best to hit that target.

The Drawbacks of Doing 100 Push-Ups a Day

There’s no downside to setting a push-up goal for yourself. Work hard enough, listen to your body, take rest days, do other strengthening exercises, and you will reach your goal. 

Working toward a 100-push-up goal helps you maintain discipline and the right mindset—even on the days when you don’t feel like doing much. Maybe you did a long ride or run yesterday, and all you really have the capacity for today is to complete a few push-ups. That's OK.

Remember: Working toward a 100-push-up goal is just like any other fitness target. There’s a risk of overdoing it. And along your journey, muscle soreness will most certainly factor in, especially as you’re getting started. This will be less of a problem over time as your muscles grow and adapt, but it’s still important to listen to your body when it’s telling you to dial it back a bit. 

How to Work Toward 100 Push-Ups a Day

Like most other fitness goals, there’s only one way to work toward 100 push-ups a day: begin.

How you start is really up to you. You may spread out ten sets of ten over the course of the day, perhaps one set per hour. Or maybe do three sets of 33 each. There’s likely to be some trial and error, particularly when you first get started. But over time, those ten sets of ten will become four sets of 25, three of 33, two of 50, and even one of 100. 

But don’t forget Rad’s advice: Make this part of your broader fitness routine. That means leaving time and space to incorporate weight training exercises that strengthen your arm, shoulder, chest, and back muscles. 

100 Is Just a Number

At the end of the day, 100 is just a number. You’re no less of an athlete if you realize that 100 isn’t attainable or if you just get bored with pursuing a push-up goal. The more important thing is to set broader fitness objectives, such as working toward a triathlon or lowering your blood pressure. Those are things that will matter much more in the long run than being able to do 100 push-ups in a day. 

Additionally, focusing on reaching 100 push-ups will likely take time away from other activities. (There are only so many hours in the day.) Think about where push-ups fit in, and if there’s another part of your workout routine that might have to take a backseat while you pursue your goal. 

Being able to do 100 push-ups a day is an incredible achievement—one you should pat yourself on the back for if you reach it. But before trying to reach this milestone, consider whether it will impede or benefit your overall fitness journey. If it’s the latter, don’t stop at 100. Keep setting bigger fitness goals. You’ve got this. 


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