I just started training, but because I don't have the time to go to a gym, I decided to do push-ups instead. However, I've read that push-ups won't increase muscle mass.
I have the following routine:

  • 20 x 1
  • 10 x 20
  • 20 x 1

Total: 240 each day

For the last 100, I also add some weight by using a schoolbag filled with books.

I was wondering, does this really not increase muscle mass?

  • Your math doesn't quite work out above... what you have listed is 240. Or did you mean that you "only" do 100 in the middle? :)
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 11:34
  • hahhaah you are right i meant 240 instead of 140 @SeanDuggan
    – KingBoomie
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 8:08
  • If you do only push-ups you will get a serious muscle imbalance. Even if you do lots of different styles.
    – John
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 15:35
  • you mean between different body parts? @JJosaur
    – KingBoomie
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 11:10

3 Answers 3


What you've read is false. You may not end up with a bodybuilder's body, but push ups is a fundamental exercise everybody does, whether going to a gym or not.

It definitely helps you gain muscle mass as long as you keep challenging yourself and altering your workout to target different areas of your chest as well as to prevent your body from adapting to the routine.

You can find some great push ups variations here.

TIP: A nicely shaped, muscular chest is considered the one that is full and symmetrical, so be sure to target a lot the upper chest with decline push ups. Regular push ups don't target it as effectively, since the targeting angle is different.

enter image description here

Warning: Your routine has to be fundamentally changed in order to see yourself gain muscle mass. Currently, by doing 140 push ups everyday (I counted 240 from the sets you provided) all you achieve is to overtrain your mid-chest section consecutively without allowing your body to repair your muscle tissue.

Advice: What you should be doing instead, is follow a gym-like routine and train as if you were actually going to gym. That means that you should be training 2 days per week with at least a 48-hour rest period in-between to allow proper muscle tissue repair and recovery. You should also, use 3-4 different variations of push ups in order to target all different angles and thus train all the muscles of your chest.


  1. Standard push ups: 4 sets x 10-15 reps, 60 sec rest between sets, last one to failure
  2. Decline push ups: 4 sets x 10-15 reps, 60 sec rest between sets, last one to failure
  3. Elevated push ups: 4 sets x 10-15 reps, 60 sec rest between sets, last one to failure
  4. Optional (if you can still move your chest after the first three)

Before anything else, read this article on overtraining and refrain from the kind of routine you have in the future to avoid both the physical and psychological ramifications that will otherwise occur.

**Failure means until you can no longer complete another repetition.

  • 1
    thankyou that is a wonderfull explanation @Angel Politis
    – KingBoomie
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 8:05
  • 1
    one question, what is the rest time between the different push-ups. What I mean is when you have done the standard push-ups how lang should I take rest before starting with the decline push ups?
    – KingBoomie
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 8:12
  • It depends. If the last exercise was hard to complete take a 3-minute break before moving on to the next one, otherwise 2 minutes will suffice. Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 8:25
  • 1
    I tried the optional set but I couldn't get up anymore hahah, nice training scheme thanks @Angel Politis
    – KingBoomie
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 11:42
  • Glad I could help @RickBeeloo Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 11:54

The key to gaining muscles is progressive overload. Take a look at the link below, Christopher Bibbs explains the importance of progressive overload when designing a program.

How to Get Bigger And Stronger with no gym or weights

  • "So if you did not do any push-ups this of course will make your muscles grow" are you sure?
    – John
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 10:14
  • I'd say so as the body tries to adapt to the new experience of physical stress. So if you do have never done any push up and suddenly start to do 10 every day this will become easier and easier as the body builds up muscle. Nevertheless, you won't look like Schwarzegger then..
    – user21799
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 15:30

YES and NO!

The problem with push-ups is that at some point you will need to add more resistance to provide more challenge and your body has to adapt to. Doing more push ups will not provide more muscle! Getting bigger (more muscle mass) it is important 1. to have a good diet, 2. a challenging routine (with slowly increasing the weight or choosing a more difficult exercise for each body part - where for calisthenics your limit is your body weight and 3. REST, for your body to repair and build more muscle tissue.

Best example are martial artists, who do tons of push ups, also different variations ... for the reason to stay in a certain weight class for competition.

Push-ups are a very good basic exercise, not only for beginners, I would also recommend it as a finisher after an intense pectoral weight training, to tax even the last part of the pecs, that may have not been challenged by the weights :-).

And as a side-note, if you have never done strength training at all, of course you will build muscle, as your body wants to adapt to the new demands put on the body... but then you will stagnate at some point.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.