Push-Up Progression Guide: Strengthen and Improve at Your Pace

Hi All! Are you ready to embark on an exciting challenge that will enhance your upper body strength and stamina? Today, I’m going to provide details of push-up progression program with an ambitious end goal in sight: mastering up to 100 consecutive push-ups!!

Admittedly, this is a lofty goal, but remember the quote: “Shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” A few years ago, I embarked on a similar journey and made significant progress in my push-up game. Now, I’m ready to take on the challenge again, and I invite you to join me. Even if we don’t hit the 100 mark, we’ll undoubtedly make substantial strides in our fitness journey.

The Power of Push-Ups

Push-ups are a comprehensive full-body exercise, engaging your arms, chest, shoulders, and core. However, they can be challenging, especially for beginners. Not to worry, though! This program is designed to meet you where you are, with scaling options included, and help you progress towards your push-up goals.


The Basics of a Perfect Push-up

Before we dive into the program, let’s ensure we understand the proper push-up form. A well-executed push-up not only ensures you’re effectively working the targeted muscles but also minimizes the risk of injury. Here’s a quick guide:


  • Hand Placement: Position your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, directly underneath your shoulders when you’re at the top of the push-up.
  • Body Alignment: Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels. Engage your core to keep your back straight—no sagging or hiking up the hips.
  • The Descent: Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor, keeping your elbows tucked in close to your body.
  • The Ascent: Push your body back up, fully extending your arms without locking your elbows.


Here is a video demonstrating perfect form:


Scaling Options for Beginners

If you’re new to push-ups or find the full version too challenging, that’s perfectly okay. Here are a few scaling options:

  • Wall Push-ups: Stand a few feet away from a wall, place your hands on the wall at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart, then perform the push-up against the wall.
  • Incline Push-ups: Use a bench or a sturdy table to perform push-ups. The higher the incline, the easier the push-up will be.
  • Knee Push-ups: Perform push-ups from your knees instead of your toes.

As you get stronger, you can progress from wall push-ups to incline push-ups, and from incline push-ups to knee push-ups, until you’re able to do full push-ups.


This video demonstrates some of the options:


Your Customizable Push-up Program


Now, onto the program! Remember, this is a journey, not a race. It’s all about gradual and consistent progress, not instant results. Depending on your current fitness level, you can choose one of four goals: 25, 50, 75, or 100 push-ups.

Here’s how the program will look (plan for working out every other day…see below for the importance of rest and recovery):


  • Week 1: Start with a number of push-ups per set that is half of your max. Do 4 sets.
  • Week 2: Increase the number of push-ups per set by 10-20%. Do 5 sets.
  • Week 3: Increase the number of push-ups per set by another 10-20%. Do 5 sets.
  • Week 4 and Beyond: Continue increasing the number of push-ups per set by 10-20% each week, adding an extra set every 3-4 weeks.


For instance, if you can currently do 20 push-ups unbroken, your program would look like this:


  • Week 1: Start with 10 push-ups per set (half of 20), repeated over 4 sets.
  • Week 2: Increase your push-ups per set to 11-12 push-ups (10-20% increase from 10), then do 5 sets.
  • Week 3: Increase your push-ups per set to 12-14 push-ups (10-20% increase from 11-12), then do 5 sets.
  • Week 4 and Beyond: Continue the pattern, increasing your push-ups per set to 14-16 push-ups (10-20% increase from 12-14). Also, since it’s the fourth week, you would add an extra set, making it 6 sets in total.


Remember, these are just estimates—everyone’s progress will look different. The key is to listen to your body and adjust the program as needed. The goal is consistent, gradual improvement over time, not sudden leaps in performance.


To make it easier, I’ve created a calculator. Enter your initial max reps, and it will populate the number of reps and sets for the next 8 weeks. After 8 weeks, attempt another max rep exercise, then enter the new value in the table for an updated program.


Push-up Calculator

Week Reps per Set Sets

*After 8 weeks, re-enter your new max pushups to calculate a new program.


Here’s a guideline on which goal to choose based on your starting point:


  • If you can currently do 10-20 push-ups unbroken: Your goal is 25 push-ups.
  • If you can do 20-40 push-ups: Your goal is 50 push-ups.
  • If you can do 40-60 push-ups: Your goal is 75 push-ups.
  • If you can do more than 60 push-ups: Your goal is 100 push-ups.


Remember, everyone’s journey will look different. Your progress might not be linear—some weeks, you might not increase the number of push-ups, or you might even need to decrease it slightly. That’s okay. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The key is to stay consistent and patient with yourself.


Breaking Through Plateaus


Even with the most determined and disciplined approach, you might find your progress stalling at some point. This is completely normal in any fitness journey. Here are a few strategies to help you break through a plateau:


  • Increase Rest Time: Your muscles might need more time to recover between sets. Try adding an extra minute of rest and see if it helps.
  • Check Your Form: As you get tired, your form can start to slip. Make sure you’re still performing each push-up with proper form.
  • Focus on Nutrition: Ensure you’re fueling your body with nutrient-dense foods, staying hydrated, and getting enough protein to support muscle recovery and growth. Aim for 1g protein per pound of body weight (use your ideal weight here, not current weight if you are trying to lose weight).
  • Mix It Up: Try different push-up variations. This can stimulate your muscles in a new way and help you break through the plateau.


See the video below for a bunch of variations to keep things interesting!



The Importance of Rest and Recovery!!

Push-ups are a demanding exercise, and it’s essential to give your body time to recover. Aim for three push-up workouts per week, with rest days in between. On your rest days, feel free to engage in light activities like yoga, walking, or stretching.


Adequate sleep is another non-negotiable aspect of recovery. Aim for 7-9 hours per night to give your body a chance to repair and grow stronger.



Embarking on this push-up journey is an incredible way to challenge yourself, improve your fitness, and gain a sense of achievement. Remember, it’s not just about the end goal, but also about the journey. Celebrate your progress along the way and be patient with yourself.


As Michael Jordan said, “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” With consistency, patience, and determination, you’ll be cranking out more push-ups than you ever thought possible before you know it!


Stay strong and keep pushing! I’m excited to be a part of your fitness journey and can’t wait to see how far you’ll go.