What I Learned Doing Push-Ups Every Day For A Month

What I Learned Doing Push-Ups Every Day For A Month

At the beginning of January, I happened upon a video you may have seen: A young woman doing push-ups for 100 days. She starts out “scrawny”, but gets stronger. I wanted to do that. So I did, and you can too.

Right before this, I’d only been exercising occasionally — life gets busy with three kids — so I felt pretty scrawny myself to start with. The push-ups were tough at first, but they got easier. I definitely got stronger. Here is what I learned along the way.

Soreness Doesn’t Have to Stop You

At the beginning, I could do full push-ups, but they were hard. I tend to avoid them in my exercise routines because if I do more than a set or two, I’ll be seriously sore the next day. So if I was going to do push-ups every day, I had to tread carefully.

Fortunately I knew how to work out despite soreness. You don’t skip workouts; you just do them as easy and gentle as you need to. On my second day I only did a few sets at a time, and likewise on the third day. It took more than a week to totally shake the soreness, but I kept my workload light and just focused on working out consistently. I knew if I skipped a day early on, I would have a hard time convincing myself to continue.

Consistency Pays Off

As tempting as it was, I never skipped a day. I also pared down my goal to the single most important thing: Doing at least one push-up every day (and taking video of it).

Since I already had trouble finding time to go to the gym, I knew I didn’t have much hope of doing a lengthy workout every day. I hesitated to sign on to any specific plan, even the One Hundred Push-ups routine, since I would have to modify it anyway in the beginning because of soreness.

Some days I did the push-ups as part of a bodyweight workout, but most of the time I just did them during the work day, whenever I felt like I could use a break. I set up Nagbot to text me every day so I couldn’t forget (unfortunately the service isn’t available in Australia).

You Improve More Quickly Than You Think

I figured my first milestone would be doing more reps at a time. That’s not exactly what happened, though. The first accomplishment I saw: My form improved.

At the beginning, I showed fellow Lifehacker writer Stephanie Lee some of my push-up videos, and asked for a form critique. She pointed out that my elbows flared out and my hand position was wide, and predicted that I’d probably fix that automatically as I got stronger.

That’s exactly what happened. Even a week later, while I was still working through the soreness, I noticed I could put my hands directly under my shoulders. I could also go all the way down to the ground, instead of sort of cheating halfway like I used to.

I wasn’t doing more reps, I was doing better ones. So to keep that momentum, I started trying new things. I did push-ups with my feet on a chair, for example, and have recently moved up to putting my feet at table height. I also asked my kid to sit on my back, and if I push with every ounce of my strength, I can lift him up.

When I started, I had no idea I would improve this much. I’m excited to build on this momentum and see where I’ll be at the end of the next month, or even in a full 100 days.


  • Congrats Beth. What were your progressive repetitions? Did you start with 5 and then add 1 per day?

  • If I start doing push-ups daily then do I have to continue with it? Or if I discontinue the routine, I’ll get fatty again?

    • Muscle cannot turn into fat. If you stop it, the muscles you grew just fade away, back to normal.

      But why would you stop? Pressups take maybe 5 minutes a day, 3x weekly, for MASSIVE benefits!

      • No reason to stop; but it is worth mentioning here that I am a lazy type of person that I even feel hassle to get up and feed myself lol

  • ” I tend to avoid them in my exercise routines because if I do more than a set or two, I’ll be seriously sore the next day. ”

    Why this? This is the very reason you should do them! That soreness? That soreness = a very good thing! That means you are pushing the muscle group to its limit and beyond, and through repetition that’s exactly how you get stronger and more muscular. No Pain No Gain sounds kinda douchey but it is grounded heavily in reality.

    • Yes, as long as you rest those muscles until they’re no longer sore, before you work them again.

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