Due to not needing any additional weight-training equipment, the pushup is an exercise that can be performed anywhere. Because of this, you may be tempted to fit it in multiple times throughout the week. However, the pushup is a strength-training exercise and thus needs to be incorporated into a workout routine just like any other strength-training exercise. Completing pushups on the day after your chest workouts will limit or even prevent muscular strength and size developments.
Importance of Rest
The time in between your workouts is essential for your muscles to recover; they need about 48 hours of rest. The weight-training workouts put your chest muscles under stress that breaks them down. After your chest weight-training workouts, your chest muscles are left fatigued and damaged. It’s during the time in between your workouts that your chest muscles are able to heal and develop.
While the pushup requires contribution from your shoulder muscles and your triceps, it’s your chest muscles that are most heavily involved. Although you don’t use barbells, dumbbells or any other weighted implement during the pushup, your chest muscles still have to overcome your own body weight. Therefore, the pushup places your chest muscles under the same type of stress as any other chest strength-training exercise.
If you do perform pushups on the day after your chest workout, you prevent your chest muscles from adequately recovering. As a result, you prevent the muscle from healing itself and thus prevent muscle growth or strength improvements. According to Keith E. Cinea of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, after extremely high-volume chest workouts, which could include those that feature multiple chest exercises performed in numerous sets of 10 to 12 repetitions, your chest muscles may even need 72 hours of rest.
Because the pushup requires work from your chest muscles, you shouldn’t perform pushups on the day after your chest workout. In fact, the pushup would be an appropriate exercise to incorporate into the chest workout itself. All of your chest exercises should be completed within the same workout, and your chest workouts should be scheduled two or three days per week on nonconsecutive days, such as on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.