As far as workout moves go, push-ups are the great equalizer. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, there is always going to be a way to use push-ups to challenge yourself—whether that means working up from your knees onto your hands (no small feat!) or adding a military-style clap between reps. One way to continue improving your push-up practice? By doing push-ups every day.
No matter what modification you’re doing, push-ups are one of those moves that will give you a whole lot of bang for your buck— a single rep is enough to give you a full-body workout. They work your chest, triceps, shoulders, and core, plus what trainers call the “wing” muscle under your armpits, and the more of them you do, the stronger you’re ultimately going to get all over. As long as you’re doing them the right way (we’ll get to that in a sec), integrating some up-and-downs into your daily routine on a regular basis can be great for your body.
“Push-ups are a low load-bearing, bodyweight exercise that can be executed anywhere with no equipment,” says Joshua Thomas, trainer at Life Time Summerlin . “When completed through full ranges of motion without outstanding movement imbalances, they can help keep your lean tissue healthy, joints healthy, and help with blood circulation.” He adds that doing them every day, while also experimenting with different variables, can be a great tool for working toward your health and fitness goals.
How to do the perfect push-up
The “perfect push-up” may sound like this elusive thing that can only be done by elite fitness professionals, but it’s definitely within reach of anyone. The basics involve lowering your entire body as one unit (that part’s the most important) from the up position until you’re hovering off the ground, then pushing straight back up. Good check points, according to Thomas, are: a tightly braced core, your feet close or directly together, your chest and spine in a neutral position with a natural curve, your hands stacked directly under your elbows so that the wrist remains neutral at the bottom position with zero bending at the joint, and your elbows bent at 45 to 90 degrees. For a visual demonstration, check out the video below:
Doing push-ups every day
If you want to do push-ups every day, Thomas says that the best place to start (as is the case with any movement!) is by making sure you can complete a full range of motion “safely with zero to minimum pain.” If you’ve got a trainer or fitness pro in your life, it may be worth working with them to perfect your push-up before doing a full set on your own. Once you’ve got that down, test yourself by seeing how many you can do in a row. “This starting point will help you determine how to best train and what your weak points in a push-up are,” says Thomas. Then, you can build on this every day, and depending on what your goals are, you can try to progress in different ways, like by adding more reps, resting for shorter periods between sets, or trying different variations.
“Push-ups can be great when completed every day and even better if you know how to change variables and incorporate different variations,” says Thomas, calling out plyometric push-ups, deficit push-ups, weighted push-ups, and close grip push-ups as a few of his favorites. “There are also ways to vary the exercise by simply changing the intensity and volume of work completed every day.”
For example, you could you could set a goal to do 100 push-ups every day for a month, but those 100 push-ups might look different every day. “You can find numerous ways to split up the load differently,” says Thomas. “For example, day one complete 10 sets of 10 reps, day two complete four sets of 25 reps, day three complete 20 sets of five with weight on your back, day four complete two sets of 50—the possibilities go on and on.”
Are there any risks to doing push-ups every day?
There is technically always some sort of risk with any type of working out, but push-ups actually carry less risk than most other moves because they’re low-load bearing and don’t require you to lift anything besides your own bodyweight. But, says, Thomas, any time you’re doing a repetitive movement every day, there’s a risk of an overuse injury—tendonitis is a biggie here.
“We can only train as hard as we recover, so if your body doesn’t recover, you may end up spinning your wheels in the mud and working hard for less than optimal results for a long time,” he says. A few ways to ensure you’re doing that properly? Do a proper warmup before starting your workout each day, cool down when you’re finished, and be sure to be intentional about your recovery by adding some prehab and mobility training into your routine. You’ll be clapping between reps in no time.