Push-ups might be one of the first exercises you learn about when you first start hitting the gym (or in PE class at school), but that doesn’t mean they’re easy, not at all.
They’re a compound movement, meaning they’re a type of exercise that target multiple muscle groups. This means they can be very effective at building muscle and causing serious DOMS … so you probably wouldn’t want to do 200 push-ups every single day for 30 days, right?
Well, in Stan Browney’s case, wrong.
A year ago, Browney challenged his little brother and two of his mates to do 200 push-ups every day for 30 days, with no shortcuts. They had to have proper form and do them every single day, without rest days.
But after an onslaught of comments saying the participants needed rest days in order to recover and get stronger, Browney decided it was time to put that theory to the test.
Hence push-up challenge part two.
This time around the challenge features loyal cameraman Lennard (who you’ll know if you saw his incredible 90-day transformation) and Browney’s friend and gym rookie Luc.
To see what kind of effect both proper rest and 200 push-ups a day has on muscle building, Lennard will be doing push-ups every other day for 30 days. I know, it’s confusing, but stick with me.
Luc, however, will be taking on the original challenge, completing 200 push-ups (with proper form) every day for 30 days straight. That’s 6,000 push-ups in total.
So, do rest days lead to more gains? Do more reps make you stronger?
Let’s find out.
Measurements on day 1:
Both participants were at a similar point in their fitness journey when they started the challenge — relatively new to the gym but with some fitness experience. They were at such a similar position at the beginning of the challenge that both maxed out at 35 push-ups in one set.
Luc’s Measurements day 1:
Luc’s push-up stats day 1:
|Max set:||35 reps|
|Full 200 push-ups time:||31 minutes, 15 seconds|
Lennard’s Measurements day 1:
Lennard’s push-up stats day 1:
|Max set:||35 reps|
|Full 200 push-ups time:||21 minutes, 39 seconds|
Both guys had some ground rules to obey in the challenge, but Lennard had quite a few more than Luc …
200 push-ups every single day for 30 days straight
Push-ups can be done any time of day
Must have good form with every rep
Must do push-ups every other day over 30 days (about 48 hours of rest between sessions)
Must complete all push-ups within one workout (this will become Lennard’s new push day)
The workout will consist of five sets of push-ups, each leaving about 1-3 reps in the tank at the end of each set
Then finish the workout with one final set of push-ups, to failure
Take a 90-120 second rest between sets
And one final point to mention: on the final day of the challenge, they’ll get $10 for every push-up that beats their day 1 max set total.
The guys were training normally throughout the challenge, outside of push days, which were reserved solely for push-ups. They were also eating as they normally would, with a high-protein diet courtesy of yours truly.
There were two outcomes Browney was interested in. First, who would build more muscle mass? Second, who would be able to complete more reps than on day one?
Browney’s prediction was that both guys would be winners.
“For muscle mass we 100% agree with the comments and think more rest = more gains.
“But for who will see the most progress with push-ups, from our experience, the more you do an exercise, the better you get at it. And because Luc will be doing so many more than Lennard, we actually think Luc will see more progress.”
Because of Lennard’s six-set masterplan, he ends up doing between 120 and 140 reps per workout, completing around 25 reps per set. This is an average of 60-70 push-ups per day … a lot less than his competitor, Luc.
Speaking of Luc, while Lennard was attempting to fit as many push-ups as possible into one workout, Luc was fitting in sets wherever he could, even squeezing in a few in the middle of a birthday party.
Halfway through the challenge, Luc was hit with a migraine and had to skip his push-ups for the day. But he did manage to complete them every other day of the challenge.
Lennard also completed the challenge, abiding by all the rules. So, I guess it’s time for the big reveal?
Luc’s measurements day 30:
Luc’s push-up stats day 30:
|Max set:||47 reps|
|Full 200 push-ups time:||15 minutes, 35 seconds|
Lennard’s measurements day 30:
Lennard’s push-up stats day 30:
|Max set:||41 reps|
|Full 200 push-ups time:||14 minutes, 46 seconds|
So, Lennard walked out of the gym $60 richer, and Luc walked out a whopping $100 richer thanks to his final push-ups total.
Luc also walked out looking leaner, thanks to losing some body fat, while maintaining his muscle mass. He also halved his time for completing the 200 push-ups. Very impressive.
But Lennard’s results were nothing to sneer at either. His chest looked noticeably fuller thanks to an additional couple of centimetres and he managed similar progress to Luc but with half the work.
Take home message
Basically, this challenge was a win-win. Whichever approach followed, both would lead to increased strength and better push-ups ability, and maybe even some lost body fat along the way too.
However, 200 push-ups every single day is brutal, and if anything, this challenge demonstrates how vital rest is in any fitness routine.
For that reason I have to endorse Lennard’s approach over Luc’s. And having said all that, this many push-ups every day is almost definitely not necessary for building upper body muscle.