Pushups incorporate muscles in your chest, shoulders, arms and core, making them one of the most effective strengthening exercises you can perform. Another advantage of pushups is the number of possible variations. For example, beginners can focus on developing proper form with bent-knee pushups, while experts can increase the challenge by placing their feet on a chair.
During an intense set of pushups, muscle tissue is broken down. Your body needs two things to repair the muscle: nutrition and rest. If you don’t allow your body to repair itself fully, you decrease the strengthening effects of your workout. The general rule is to allow for 48 hours of rest. So to maximize the effectiveness of your fitness program, you shouldn't perform pushups on consecutive days.
On a short-term basis, the fitness benefits of doing pushups might not be evident. But over time, you should notice an increase in pushup ability. Assuming your body is getting sufficient rest and nutrition, sooner or later the number of pushups you can perform will increase and your body will be less sore after workouts. Keeping a workout diary helps you track your long-term progress and determine the effectiveness of your pushup regimen.
No simple formula exists for determining how many pushups your body can handle, but if your performance isn’t improving, one of two things is happening. First, your pushup workouts might not be challenging enough. Discuss your situation with a certified fitness instructor to determine how to increase the difficulty of the pushups. She might recommend, for example, wearing a weighted vest or elevating your feet while performing pushups to force your body to work harder.
The second possible reason for lack of progress is overtraining. If you’re performing intense pushup workouts on a daily basis, you might be pushing your body too hard. While enthusiasm for exercise and a willingness to work hard are good characteristics, taken too far they weaken your body. For example, daily intense pushups might lead to chronic or nagging muscle aches and joint pain, performance plateaus or declines, loss of appetite and insomnia, all of which are signs of overtraining, according to the American Council on Exercise.
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