The main guide resides on the 100 pushups home page. We recommend reading the main guide before beginning your training. This page is a quick overview to give you a general idea of what you’ll be doing.
There are three levels of the 100 Pushups Challenge
- Successfully complete 100 pushups in a day
- Successfully complete 100 pushups in an hour
- Successfully complete 100 consecutive pushups.
You need not start at the first challenge. If you’re already good at pushups, feel free to choose either of the more advanced challenges.
We do not tell you how many pushups to perform on a particular day
This type of spoon-fed training sets you up for failure once you eventually, and inevitably, miss a target set by a prescribed program. We equip you with a far superior training methodology. Keep on reading.
The 100 pushups protocol is not a specific workout guide that you follow to the letter, so don’t start with the mindset that you have to hit certain numbers of sets and repetitions for each workout.
Instead, the 100 pushups protocol is a training philosophy that uses specific training techniques, but gives you flexibility day-to-day on how to approach your training. Rather than complicate things, we find this adds to the simplicity of the program. And by not blindly following workout numbers, you also learn a lot about strength training along the way.
Make sure you’re on 100pushups.com
The popularity of the 100 pushups challenge has led to dozens of copycat apps and websites. In large part, they are junk. We don’t have an app because you don’t need an app. Always check that you’re here on the official 100pushups.com site.
Do a pushups test
Before you start your training, you need a benchmark of where you’re at. This not only helps you monitor you’re progress over time, but also your training schedule itself is based on the outcome of the test.
The pushups test is simple. Do as many full pushups as you can in one go. The test is complete when you cannot physically do one more pushup without collapsing into a pile on the floor.
A couple of rules: do not pause for more than 5 seconds at the top, nor take a rest on your knees, during this test. This test is not a competition, so there’s no need to cheat. You want the number to be representative of your current pushups ability.
Adjust your pushup technique
There’s going to be plenty of time to perfect your pushup technique over the coming weeks, and we’ll guide you through it every step of the way. But right now, you’re going to focus on just one element – the angle of your arms relative to your body.
Most people instinctively stick their elbows out when doing a pushup, when in fact what you want is to sweep the arms back at least 45° relative to your body. Think about creating the shape of an arrow rather than the letter “T”.
You see the incorrect position a lot in fitness magazines, I call it the “magazine pose” because it’s aesthetically pleasing to photograph. But it increases your chance of injury and will end up holding you back further down the road.
The correct 45° arm position requires more muscle activation in your chest and shoulder muscles, and doing pushups this way is slightly harder. You may find yourself having to repeat the pushups test with your new technique to account for this added difficulty.
Perform sets at no more than 50% of your pushups test
This is where there is a rapid departure from ordinary strength training techniques, which tend to work a muscle hard (and to failure) 2-3 a week. Working a muscle to failure is similar to the pushups test you just did, it’s the point where you cannot complete one more rep without compromising your technique.If you scored 2 in your pushups test, do sets of 1 pushup.
- If you scored 10 in your pushups test, do sets of 5 pushups.
- If you scored 25 in your pushups test, do sets of 12 pushups (round down).
- And so on.
Doing “sets to failure” is not the approach in the 100 pushups protocol. You aren’t going to go anywhere close to muscular failure in the vast majority of your training. There’s a very specific reason for this called “greasing the groove“, the underlying principle being to train as often as possible while being as fresh as possible.
Train every day
Train on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. No days off unless you are injured.
This goes hand in hand with the previous principle of doing sets at low (50%) intensity. When intensity is low, you keep your neuromuscular system fresh, which allows you to train more frequently. The opposite is necessarily true too – when you train frequently you must keep intensity low.
The overarching principle is to train your pushups as often as possible while being as fresh as possible. This requires daily pushups.
Perform four sets, spaced equally throughout the day
Are you starting to see a pattern? On top of training every day, you want to space out your sets during the day for maximum recovery and freshness.
An ideal schedule would be:
- Set 1 at 7am
- Set 2 at 11am
- Set 3 at 3pm
- Set 4 at 7pm
If there are constraints in your daily schedule (e.g. you don’t particularly feel like doing sets of pushups in an office environment), you can tweak it to best suit your schedule. Aim for at least 60 minutes between sets. So a compromise might be two sets in the morning and two sets in the evening: 7am, 8am, 6pm, 9pm. At the weekend, revert back to the ideal schedule.
Hitting pushups multiple times a day, every day of the week is the fastest method of progress, bar none. You’ll be astonished how quickly you improve.
Do a retest once a week
It is important to retest not only to monitor your progress, but also because next week’s numbers are based on the results of the retest.
- Week 1 test score = 12. This equates to 6 pushups per set (4 times a day).
- Week 2 retest score = 14. This equates to 7 pushups per set (4 times a day).
This way, the number of pushups per set increases naturally over time – it is built-in to the protocol via weekly testing. This is a welcome departure from other training programs where they get you to aim for a specific number of pushups each week.
Add sets, not reps
As you become accustomed to the protocol, you may want to add some intensity. Do this by adding additional sets to your day (no more than 1 additional set per day, per week). Do not add intensity by adding reps/pushups to each set, i.e. going above 50% of your test maximum.
The 100 pushups training protocol is based on training as often as possible while remaining as fresh as possible. This means multiple sets per day of low intensity pushups. Provided the protocol is strictly followed, your pushups will progress at close to the maximum physiological rate. Do not succumb to the temptation to exceed the protocol – more is not better, you will quickly overtrain and lose your gains.
Now that you’re underway and you’ve followed this Quickstart Guide, go and read more about the principle underlying this protocol – the Soviet training methodology of ‘greasing the groove’.