Fitness challenges seem gimmicky. But I feel that they have their place in the modern-day, gizmo-centric, fitness culture.
You are less likely to hop on to a routine that tests your limits by yourself. But if your favorite influencer is giving it a whirl, you are eager to try it out too.
There’s accountability, there’s precedent and there’s motivation to step out of your comfort zone. That’s how I ended up doing 1000 pushups a day.
It was something that I chance bumped into on YouTube when I saw CrossFit athlete Craig Richey cranking out 1000 pushups. Almost instantly, I was motivated to try that myself.
I haven’t hit a gym since they downed shutters due to the pandemic. To be honest, I have never been consistent with my workouts all my life. The pandemic and the working from home hasn’t been too forgiving on my waistline.
Pushups seemed like the perfect solution. There’s no need for any special equipment to do pushups. Moreover, I have been veering towards calisthenics off late and this was a terrific way to test my upper body strength.
With my motivations in place, I set off to try and do 1000 push ups a day.
To give you some perspective, the max pushups that I have managed to do is 35 in one set. So, 1000, was definitely going to push my body beyond its limit.
Is It Possible to Do 1000 Pushups?
Yes, it is. Mirodu Yoshida of Japan did 10,507 nonstop pushups in October 1980. Even if you are not an outlier like Mirodu was, you can, with practice and planning, come close to the 1000 magic number.
But there’s a way to do that. Doing 1000 a day straight away, is not that way. You need to have a certain level of fitness to be able to pull off 1000 reps of pushups, or any exercise for that matter.
Why, the average American struggles to do just 5 pushups. So, 1000 is definitely a mountainous task by any standards.
How I Went Up Doing 1000 Pushups a Day
I knew from the onset that this was going to be tough. So rather than jumping head over heels into a program that I couldn’t manage, I decided to plan it out better.
I took a pen and paper and jotted down some basic things. My previous best was 35 pushups in one set. So even if I managed to do 10-sets of 35, I could only do 350 in a day. But given the difficulty with each passing set, I decided to stick to a more realistic goal.
Eventually, after some calculations and some guesswork, I narrowed down on 200 as the magic number. I was going to stick to 200 reps a day and increase linearly until I hit 1000.
Day 1 – Easier than I Expected It to Be
With my plans in place, I set off on day 1 expecting it to be an uphill task. This belief was reinforced when I managed to do a paltry 20-reps in my first set. But things picked up pace after that. I did two sets of 25 each, after the first set. This was my morning workout of 70-reps.
In the evening, I managed to do 3-sets of 35-reps and one final set of 25-reps. It was not as bad as I expected. I did 200 reps and was mighty proud. But I knew that I had to maintain the consistency in order to meet my lofty goal.
Day 2 – Tougher than I Expected It to Be
Isn’t it amazing how one good day in the gym can inflate your ego? I was almost hoping day 2 to be a cakewalk as well. Just like day 1 was. But the moment I hit the third set in my morning half of the workout, I knew that the sets ahead were going to be tough.
I felt drained physically, by the time I finished 300-reps in the evening. But I was determined to stick to my plan and did 4 more sets of 25 reps each. While I finished 400 reps eventually, this was definitely tougher than the first day of 200.
Day 3 – Brutal!
Woke up on day 3 with most of my chest, shoulders and back on fire. Should have foreseen this and thought of a way to accelerate healing. Did some stretching and hopped into the first set. I decided to divide the total number of 600 reps into smaller sets this time.
So did shorter sets of 15-reps until I hit 400. Thankfully, wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be until then. From there on, it was brutal. The last 200 reps were a test of my will and skill. Trust me when I tell you this, doing pushups when you are sore, is a shortcut to hell.
But I somehow cranked out the last 200 reps, taking my total to 600 for the day.
My partner helped me with a massage at the end of the day and I just crashed due to the fatigue.
Day 4 – Wish I Was Dead
The title sums it up, doesn’t it?
I slept like a rock all through the night after that massage. The soreness was definitely less than it was on Day 3. But it wasn’t like zero soreness. I was still sore in places. The pecs in particular were the worst. But I had some pushups to do.
So, I got started with the same plan as the previous day. Shorter sets. 10-15 whenever I could through out the day. By the time I hit 650, I wished I was dead. It was just impossible to push on and do another 150 reps.
I took a longish break and hopped back in. This time, I did 5-sets of 30 reps straight in a row. Idk how I did that. After I ended the fifth set, I felt superhuman almost. I had managed to go from 35-reps in a set, to 800-reps in a day. I knew that 1000 was achievable at that moment.
Day 5 – Target Achieved
Day 5 arrived. By now, I had realized that shorter sets work better than longish ones. Although these were more time consuming, it didn’t leave me drained as much as longer sets did.
So, I kept doing short sets of 10-20-reps all day. Nothing fancy. Just do a couple of sets, get back to work and then do some sets again after an hour or so. This worked like a charm. By evening, I had cranked out 900 reps without breaking a sweat.
The last 100 though, were grueling. But there was no way I was going to let go. Finally, I achieved the 1000 reps that I had hoped to achieve. It took me 5-days, lots of emotional and physical upheavals and sheer will to get through to those numbers.
Day 6 & 7
There’s something psychological about breaching a plateau, isn’t there? Until you get to that benchmark, you are mentally convinced that this is the toughest thing on earth. But once you cross it, it suddenly seems to get easier.
I couldn’t believe it myself when I managed to crank out 1000 reps on day 6 and 7 without fatigue, soreness or injury.
Results & What I Learned
Coming to the more interesting part of the article, results.
I literally watched my upper body transform in a span of 7-days. I mean, it was not a ‘transformation’ in the real sense, like you see on social media. But it was the best that I had achieved in a long time.
I had dropped water weight and the abdominal bloat had reduced by 60%. The chest muscles were looking more defined, as were the shoulders and arms. I was looking leaner too.
For the entire duration of the pandemic, I pinned the blame on gyms shutting down for my pathetic fitness levels. But with this challenge, I realized that ‘Pushups’ are a true compound, upper body workout.
You don’t need any special equipment to perform them. You can do them at home. There’s ample variation to weed out boredom and target various muscle groups.
Lastly, they can be as challenging as you need them to be. Don’t believe me? Try hitting 500 reps in a day. Let’s talk after that.
Here are the key things that I learnt from this challenge.
You Will Be Very Sore
I started this fitness challenge after a 2-year hiatus where I was sedentary. But even if you have been consistent with your workouts, doing 1000 pushups a day will leave you sore. Your pecs, shoulders, arms, elbow, forearms and core, will be sore and painful in the first few days. And for me, since I wasn't working out for 2 years, even working out 7 days a week made me sore when I got back to exercising.
There are ways in which you can mitigate some of this. Massage is one of them. Stretching is another.
I highly recommend that you engage a trained masseur if you plan to try this challenge, or any other short-term fitness challenge. It expedites healing and reduces soreness, which will be vital if you wish to continue with the program.
Drink your fluids. You will be losing a lot of electrolytes when you finish doing 1000 reps. It’s important that you maintain your fluid and electrolyte intake to reduce muscle cramps and soreness.
There Is a Risk of Injury
Despite all the benefits and positives that I experienced, there’s no denying that a program like this is rife with risks of injury. You can tear a muscle, end up with a sprain, or something more serious that can put you out of action for weeks afterwards.
You are simply not allowing your body with enough time off in a program like this. So, whenever you feel tempted to hop on to something like this, don’t disregard the possibility of a serious injury.
You Need to Have a Certain Fitness Level to Perform This Challenge
You cannot come off a 2-year break and start doing 1000 pushups a day. You need to have a certain level of muscle maturity, strength, stamina, endurance, balance and coordination to pull this off. If you are a rank beginner, I don’t recommend that you try something as severe as this.
Start off with more beginner-friendly programs. Graduate to this when you have at least a year of lifting experience under the belt. I certainly don’t recommend that anyone try this after a 2-year break either, like I did.
At 1000 Pushups Your Muscles Will Need a Lot of Time to Recover
1000 reps of pushups every day will tax your body. So much that you need to provide it with at least 48-72 hours of rest to recover. 24-hours is just not enough. If you workout with sore or unhealed muscles, your range of motion is limited.
You may try to overcompensate by recruiting other muscles, which again, could lead to injury.
500 Pushups a Day Max
All said and done, I think that 1000 pushups are probably 50% more than what I should have done. 500 is an achievable, and realistic goal instead.
It’s not too difficult, but certainly not a walk in the park either. It will test your limits, but won’t leave you sore and unable to do anything else on that day. If you have other priorities, stick to something that leaves you with gas in the tank.
I am happy that I tried this challenge. Else, I would never have known that programs like these are too difficult to do consistently, without risking an injury.
How Many Pushups a Day Is a Good Workout?
That depends on your goal, your age, your body conditioning and the cumulative stress that you are exposed to, and also what other workouts you do per day, how many sit-ups, how many squats, etc.
A young athlete who can afford to hit the gym, sleep for 10-hours a day and eat like a mule, can probably do about 500 pushups with no problems.
But if you are juggling 100 other things, such as a family and work life, then you are exposed to other stressors too. These can also take a toll on your CNS and recovery. So, take it slow. Hit about 100 pushups a day and work your way forward.
Break it up into short sets. Do different variants to keep up the motivation levels. Spread it out through the day, especially if you are doing other exercises too.
Would I Recommend 1000 Pushups?
Regardless of what category of athlete you are, I wouldn’t recommend more than 500 pushups a day for anybody.
You can allocate enough time for recovery, for other exercises and for the other tasks that you must also perform through the day.
If you like these exercise challenges you can mix challenges like 100 jumping jacks per day and the one punch man challenge(100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 100 squats per day) to get a full-body exercise session.
In the end, you need to come out of it without an injury and continue to hit the gym like clockwork. So, keep this in mind and plan your challenges accordingly.
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Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at Fitlifefanatics.com. I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 16 years now.
My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future.
I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics.
My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics.
Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward.
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