How Many Pushups Should a Beginner Do? Improving My Results

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For most looking to add a physical activity and garner results and not just pass some time knowing a number to work to or grow to can help with motivation. For me this is knowing the number to do, whether as reps, time, or similar to make sure I have a measurable also for progress.

So then how many pushups should a beginner do? The starting goal for a beginner should be 10 pushups per set and to do 3 sets total, this will allow you to build up strength and endurance that allows you to complete more push ups over time. As you progress you can then add in more difficult push ups or more reps per set.

Now that we have a flat number you can target if you are a super beginner we can dive a little more into how to begin doing them to keep your body solid and strong and a progression path towards more pushups.

Then we will take a look at how many pushups people can generally do by age to see where you sit currently and if you have to catch up or are performing well already, if low we also speak about why and some choices to get more reps in.

How to Begin Doing Push Ups

To start building up your ability to do push ups you will want to work on your progression and try to start building up your muscle mass and endurance.

Below we list out some solid options to help you work on forming a progression path and to start building that strength and mass.

Beginner Push Up Progression

For a beginner you will want to look at starting with the easier forms of push up as they will help you start to build those control muscles and start building your body up.

Normally this will start with what many in fitness circles call "girl push ups" that your starting position is on your knees with arms at full extension, this is favored as it cuts the weight you need to push up dramatically.

Man performing one handed pushups, While one armed push ups aren't beginner friendly they should be your goal - How Many Pushups Should a Beginner Do
While one armed push ups aren't beginner friendly they are a high goal

As you become solid and are able to push out many push ups this way then you can start to progress to doing as many standard push ups as possible and then when tired move to push ups from your knees to failure.

The failure is what will help your muscles grow stronger and lengthen the endurance that allows for more repetitions to occur, the more work you can put in, even at less overall effort, the more results you can and will achieve.

How Many Push Ups in One Set?

When you start to work on your skills with push ups you may wonder what the count (or reps) you should do at a time to get the maximum benefits from them possible. How many push ups in one set yields the most benefit?

For beginners you want to aim at 5-10 push up reps in a single set and increase this number if you are not exhausted by the end. Some people will get to 50-100+ push ups in a single set as they gain the strength and stamina!!

What you want to partner together with just reps in a set is to make sure to do multiple sets at a time. This will increase your volume and help to build more muscle as you recruit more and more as they exhaust and fail helping your results.

How Many Push Ups Should I Do for My Age?

For all this talk about push ups and getting stronger and more fit you may start to wonder what the normal range of push ups is standard for your fitness. This post from Harvard Health even shows that your push ups can help lengthen your lifespan, so you need to get to it!

We found and assembled the list below to help you know what you could shoot for or where you want to move past to be at the level off the average for your age.

Age BracketMaleFemale
Age 17-1919-3411-20
Age 20-2917-2912-22
Age 30-3913-2410-21
Age 40-4911-208-17
Age 50-599-177-14
Age 60-656-165-12
Numbers Courtesy of Gaspari Nutrition

Hopefully this has given you a glimpse into the overall averages for people within each age bracket. While this may deflate you a little bit when starting if you focus and apply yourself you may find you blow right past these yourself!

So where do you rank on this list, are you above average, below average, or right on track? Where do you WANT to be?

So use the information above, write them down on a sticky note where you do push ups, take a look and each time you move one closer congratulate yourself.

Celebrate your wins, that's one thing beginners fail to do enough and leads to the issues where you quit on you.

Why Cant I Do Many Push Ups?

For a great percentage of the modern world we have focused on office work and white collar jobs and have spent more time focusing on other ideals. This leads to adults to wonder why can't I do many push ups anymore?

Over time as you fail to use your muscles your body decides to let them shrink as they are very energy expensive, when not used your body lets it go to be better adapted to needs. We continue to pile on body fat as it is calorically zero balance and allows for long times without food.

Your body is constantly in a balancing act to manage energy needs along with storing as much as possible to provide energy when food isn't easily available. This leads to strength waning when it isn't needed your body instead lets that muscle go to save the energy.

What Are the Disadvantages of Push Ups?

Now I have spoken about getting yourself into shape through push ups with sets and reps. Why if this is so simple to do what are the disadvantages of push ups?

For many people if they perform without proper form and building up strength you can experience issues with lower back pain, shoulder and elbow pains as well are a leading issue by people overstressing their body. Take time and work on progression and let your body build up correctly.

While these may scare you what they should actually show you is that working on learning proper form is the key, as with all fitness efforts. Taking the time to learn form may seem silly but your body will thank you later.

Types of Push Ups for Beginners

There is a vast array of push ups available and many will work well for beginners and some will help work on specific muscle groups or specialized fitness results.

Not each of the below push ups will help you get beginner results, if you are just beginning your strength training you want to start at the top of this list and as you get better work your way down to more difficult items.

Wall Push Up

As this may sound this is more of a "standing" push up for those who are having issues with upper body strength and need to build some strength but also faith in their ability to perform push ups.

You stand with your feet at an arms length away from the wall, putting your hands out on the wall you will lean into the wall bending your arms and then once you are to the wall you press yourself back to the starting position.

For many very new to workouts this may take some work through to help you get the push up mechanics down, many will move to knee push ups after they can do 50 wall push ups without stopping.

Elevated Push Up

Using a chair or other elevated start position is the basics of the elevated push up, sort of a step down towards the standard or knee push ups this can be a good place for people to begin at if they have issues with knee push ups.

The same as above you will begin to start working your way to 50 push ups in this position and then once you can do these without stopping you can move to knee or standard push ups.

Knee Push Up

These are push ups where you are in the normal push up position but instead of being on your toes you move to your knees. This helps in dropping the amount of weight needed to be moved along with helping change the pivot point.

Negative (Eccentric) Push Up

This is a push up meant to help you learn to control descent and work the muscles where you may lack solid control, many people almost "fall" to the ground instead of controlling and building strength as they should.

Following the video above will help you continue to build your skills to gain more control and build up strength on the weaker points you may have.

Decline Push Up

Similar but opposite of a elevated push up, in this version you need to instead raise your feet with your hands still on the ground. Think something along the lines of your feet being higher than your hands making the effort much harder!

These will help you continue to push and challenge your body with constantly more difficult work to gain the maximum value possible from your efforts.

How Long Does it Take to See Results From Doing Push Ups?

This is the 100 million dollar question that many ask as they want them as soon as possible. Your body though is a built on need and this isn't an instantaneous process, so then, how long does it take?

For many the first 30 days may not yield visible results but for beginners they may start to see their ability to do more or harder difficulty level push ups with more competence than when they start. After this you will continue to gain strength and endurance.

This really means you need to start and consistently work hard to build and then maintain this added strength and size. If you decide you have reached a level you are happy with and stop working out you will lose this over time as it is part of our DNA.

Final Thoughts on How Many Pushups Should a Beginner Do

When starting out on your fitness journey doing something as simple as push ups daily can help you start a huge change in your mentality and body, these changes can be all you need to change your life!

The hardest thing is making the choice to take control of your fitness and believe in yourself, no more excuses, you will never reach where you want to be if you continually allow yourself to skip fitness.

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