I started doing push ups three weeks ago and I can't seem to do more than 20 in a set.

When I do 3 sets I always get stuck on 20. I am 65kg, I used to do 90 push ups, 30 reps, 3 sets. After I finished my military service I became pretty lazy when it came to training.

What can I do to increase the maximum amount of pushups I can do at once (in a single set)?

  • Try different things, for example, do as many as you can, rest 5-10 sec, go as much as you can again, and go until failure. Maybe start hitting the gym.
    – s3v3ns
    Feb 16, 2015 at 7:47
  • Three weeks is not a much training. Mix push ups with other exercises for general fitness. If push ups is the only exercise you do then getting to 30 is not really much of a an increase in your overall fitness.
    – paparazzo
    Mar 19, 2015 at 14:32

7 Answers 7


Do lots of push-ups :) It looks like a lame recommendation but it is the truth. Please look for GTG : Grease the Groove.

I could not do 3 dips @ 93 kg of bodyweight. After doing lots of push-ups, I end up doing 30 reps @ same bodyweight. But please, do proper Push-ups, which is triceps push-ups. You can look at Martin Rooney, he is an expert in S&C.

Good luck.

Ps: I used to do lots of push-ups, like 200-300 at a time. Lots of sets of 10-15-20 reps. I would recommend you to try different variations, EMOM's, AMRAP's. Have fun doing that, eventually; your number will increase.


As it was written befor, 3 weeks isn't really long. Try again and again and keep doing sports.

Also it depends on the kind of push ups you are doing. There are hundreds of different kinds. If you are stuck at one, perhaps try switching to another kind. Wide arm, close arm, diamond, elevated...

Also, look at your form. Is your back straight, your belly tucked in, are your arms like they should be for this kind of push ups?

When I restarted doing sports some times ago I could do 20-30 push ups. But I tried e.g. Convict conditioning where you start doing push ups against a wall. It seems easy and silly, but if you do in slowly and if you concentrate at that time on all your movements you will greatly increase your skills. then I moved after one or two month against a wall to doing push ups against a table. Still easy enough to concentrate on your form and so on.

There a plenty different body weight books and programs out there. Convict conditioning is just one of them I tried and had fun doing it. Have a look what suits you best.

tl;dr: look at your form, try different styles but keep doing push ups :)


It sounds like a psychological issue, to be honest. You have 20 set as your goal and thus, when you hit that goal, you freeze up. Really, you need to push through, even if it's just one or two more. Two possible strategies:

  1. Have a friend quietly count the pushups for you and not stop you until you hit 25. Do your best to not think about the numbers. Instead, concentrate on feeling the technique, focusing on your muscles and your breathing.
  2. Promise yourself a reward if you just hit that goal. When you go to your position, think "OK, the goal is 25, exactly 25, and if I can hit that, I'll let myself watch that next episode of Game of Thrones". It doesn't even matter if you actually give yourself that reward, but just holding it out there gives you that additional bit of motivation you need. I do it all the time when running. I feel like I can't go any further and I tell myself that it's just until I hit the next stop sign, then I'll walk. Half the time, I keep going after that stop sign because I'm not as tired as I thought I was. Just proving to yourself that you can hit that mark can be enough to break through.

When you reach the final few, sometimes you just have to really grunt. Are you a quiet exerciser or are you willing to scream the last few? If so, employ your will through the medium of shouting.

With regards to push-ups, perhaps you can stick at 20? As you will eventually exceed this number through the act of sheer repetition and conditioning - you can control/calibrate the effort of each push-up so that you top out at this number.


You should focus on volume training and lactic acid tolerance. Your bodyweight is quite light so you may try to increase your strength in triceps and chest by doing lower rep lower volume training with weighted pushups or bench presses.


Mix in some more challenging variations of push-ups, such as close hand, decline, pike etc.


This site has a developed a good program for you to increase your pushups. It's basically a program in which you progressively increase the reps performed in a set. You'll perform them three days every week. No equipment or fancy moves needed.

It also has Android and iOS apps that allows you to track your progress.

If you actually follow the program diligently, your numbers will increase.

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