Maintaining a consistent and effective workout routine can be challenging, which is why it can be tempting to look at just using your body weight and performing pushups and sit-ups daily.
Performing these bodyweight exercises every day can help build a basic level of fitness and muscle endurance, but your body will eventually hit a fitness plateau, and pushups and sit-ups alone aren’t enough to get you fit. You need a varied and comprehensive training program that includes cardio and strength training.
Here, we’ll look at the impact of performing pushups and sit-ups every day can have on your body, as well as how to overcome a fitness plateau and develop an effective training program.
What happens when you do push-ups and sit-ups every day
For beginners, performing exercises with just your body weight can be an effective way of developing muscular strength without the potential risks that can come with resistance training – provided you’re using proper form.
Push-ups will activate major muscles in your upper body, more specifically your pectoral muscles, shoulders (deltoids), and triceps. Sit-ups target your core, mainly your abdominal muscles and obliques.
So, by performing these as daily exercises, you will be building strength in these areas and your muscles will grow somewhat – again, only if you’re using proper form. However, this is the only tangible health benefit of doing push-ups and sit-ups every day, and it has its limitations.
These basic exercises, even with the correct form, will only take your muscle strength to a certain level before the impact they’re having on your body are negligible. This is called hitting a plateau, and we’ll go into more detail about this in the sections below.
Likewise, performing these bodyweight exercises also won’t lead to much weight loss. By doing them every day, your body will quickly become used to them.
The plateau effect
Hitting a plateau in your exercise regimen refers to the instance of training to a certain point wherein your body is no longer making ‘adaptations’ to the exercise i.e. you aren’t losing weight, gaining muscle, or improving fitness.
When you exercise, your body adapts to the training you complete. For example, when you lift heavy weights, your muscle strength and size will increase over time – this is called an adaptation and is one of the most important fitness principles.
Once your body has adapted to a certain level of training, no more changes will occur until you alter something in your exercise routine. This usually leads to a drop in motivation and can often be frustrating, as you’re no longer seeing results from your training.
How to prevent hitting a plateau
To combat a plateau, you need to use progressive overload – sometimes referred to as exercise overload. This is the process of adjusting your training over time so that your body is constantly adapting and, thus, changing.
For example, with a strength-based exercise like bicep curls you will need to change one of three elements as you progress; the amount of weight you lift, the volume of lifting (the number of reps and sets you complete), or the frequency of your training.
As you increase these factors over time, your body will continually be adapting and making improvements.
Hitting a plateau with push-ups and sit-ups every day
The issue with daily pushups and sit-ups is that there isn’t much room to progress the fitness routine. If you choose to add some form of resistance, such as resistance bands with pushups or holding a weight while doing sit-ups, then you will need to have at least one rest day during the week.
This is because your muscles will be strained and the bodyweight exercise becomes more of a strength-based exercise, meaning your muscles require a recovery period. Your arm muscles and core muscles in particular will become more prone to injury if they aren’t given enough time to rest.
You also can’t increase the frequency of your training, because you’re already doing pushups and sit-ups every day. You can gradually increase the volume by increasing the number of reps you perform, however, this will also eventually hit a limit depending on time constraints.
So, the only other option is to adjust the type of push-ups and sit-ups you’re doing. There are a few different pushup variations, such as wide-stance push-ups, that can be implemented as well as core exercises similar to sit-ups.
What you should do instead of daily push-ups and sit-ups
In order to get fit, you need a varied and consistent training program. If you have the resources, you can seek out a professional like a personal trainer to help you develop this workout routine, though it is something you can do alone with the right information.
You should aim to include both cardio and strength training in your schedule, preferably on separate days. This can include bodyweight exercises but strength training should also involve resistance exercises (those that use weights).
By all means, you can perform pushups and sit-ups every day but they shouldn’t be the only form of exercise you’re doing.
As mentioned, an effective training program also needs to be adjusted regularly, usually every 4 to 6 weeks, to prevent hitting a plateau. These changes don’t need to be huge, but just enough to ensure you’re always progressing.
Doing pushups and sit-ups every day is convenient and certainly has some health benefits, but they are limited. Legitimate physical fitness requires consistent and regular training that targets your entire body and is constantly challenging it through adjustments and progressive overload.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the 100 push-up a day challenge?
This is a challenge wherein you need to perform 100 consecutive pushups every day for a set period of time, usually one month. Usually, there is some sort of cause or theme to these challenges, and the idea is that you share your progress with others to keep motivation high. As you move through the month, you should aim to perform the pushups with fewer and fewer breaks in between reps.