Pushups are one of the most effective exercises to increase your strength and build up your upper body muscles like the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Some people take this exercise to the extreme and commit to doing 100 pushups a day, and seem to get impressive results. But what really happens if you do 100 pushups a day for 30 days? What muscles will grow and by how much by the end of this push up challenge? Are there any side effects related to this 30 day pushup challenge you should know about? Is it even worth your time and effort? Find out here.
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To maximize your gains and minimize injury from doing 100 pushups a day, make sure you do them with proper form. But what kind of growth can you expect from doing 100 push-ups a day? The highest activated muscles were the chest, triceps, front of the shoulders, core, and another muscle called the serratus anterior. These are likely where you’ll experience most of the improvements. As for how much of an improvement to expect in these muscles, we’ll dive into specifics later.
But first, note that there are various side effects to doing 100 pushups a day for 30 days you’ll want to be aware of, starting with week 1. Men who rank “fair” in terms of their fitness on average can do about 15-20 push-ups in a row. This means you’ll likely need to do several sets of push-ups to get to a total of 100. In addition to this, the most noticeable effect you’ll experience in week 1 is what’s called DOMS, which stands for delayed onset muscle soreness. Since in this case your body isn’t used to doing 100 push-ups a day, week 1 is when you’ll experience the highest amount of soreness in your chest, shoulders, and arms.
As for side effects you’d experience in weeks 2 to 3 of your 30 day pushup challenge? Since it takes roughly 48 hours for a muscle to fully recover, in the case of doing 100 push-ups a day, since you’re training the same muscles every single workout, they aren’t getting a long enough break to fully recover. Because of this, you’ll likely start to experience quite a bit of fatigue in weeks 2 and 3. Your body and muscles may start to feel more exhausted than normal and as a result your push-up performance may even start to decrease.
So by the time week 4 rolls around, your body will have taken a beating from the high frequency and high volume pushups. You may also start to notice two things. First, if you regularly train your front muscles without training your back muscles, then the stronger front muscles will overtime start to pull your body forward into a hunched over position with your shoulders rounded forward. Now the other thing you’ll notice has to do with your joints. Even with proper form, the repetitive motion of push-ups can create a lot of strain especially on your wrists and elbows.
What kind of growth can you expect to see at the end of the pushup challenge, though? In the push-up study I mentioned in the beginning of this video, the subjects weren’t doing anywhere near 100 push-ups a day. Instead, they were assigned to 3 sets of push-ups to failure twice a week. Given that the max number of push-ups they could do in a row was around 30 reps, this would equate to about 90 push-ups being done each session. A total of roughly 180 push-ups per week. Although this sounds like nothing compared to 100 push-ups a day, they still experienced significant growth. Over the course of 8 weeks, they experienced an 18.3% increase in the muscle thickness of their chest which equated to about a 3mm increase in thickness. Their triceps also experienced a 9.5% increase in growth, which also equated to about a 3 mm increase.
If you halve these numbers, you can get a rough sense of the kind of growth you can experience after a month of doing push-ups just twice a week. If you were to do 100 push-ups a day would you experience more growth? I’d expect it to be similar or even less because you’re not giving your body adequate time to recover. Also, keep in mind that after these 30 days, if your body gets stronger then it’s going to need more of a challenge to continue growing.
As for whether this is all worth it or not? Honestly, I would not recommend the standard approach of 100 push-ups every day without rest. It causes too many recovery issues and lacks the progression you need to keep seeing results past 30 days. That said, I will be working on a video that shows you a “better” way to execute the 100 push-ups a day challenge, and I’ll link that when it’s done. Look out for it!