Most people know that doing pushups can offer health benefits. However, is 10 repetitions a day enough to see any results and if so, what can you expect?
In theory, it is possible that 10 pushups a day will help some people grow and strengthen their chest, tricep, and front shoulder muscles a small amount up to a certain point.
That being said, to get significant results from resistance training exercises like pushups, you really want to do more repetitions than that.
On the flip side, implementing 10 pushups a day can be a good idea for a different reason.
Even if exercise routines with multiple hours and gym sessions could offer more health benefits, these could feel too overwhelming if you are starting from zero.
In that case, it can be a good idea to start with something small that is doable like 10 pushups a day.
As you make exercise more of a habit and your body becomes stronger, you can start to increase the intensities and durations of your workout sessions.
The main physical effects of doing pushups
Motivation to make healthy changes can be useful to jump into a new workout routine but at the same time, you want to take a moment to think about what your physical goals are.
More specifically, pushups are mainly a bodyweight resistance training exercise.
That means you generally do this movement to grow and strengthen the muscles in your chest, triceps (back upper arms), and front shoulders.
With these things in mind, you can already start to think about whether or not 10 pushups a day is the right exercise routine for you.
If you do want to grow and strengthen the muscles in the areas mentioned above, you can find out below whether this type of pushup workout will be good enough for your goals.
There are also more general positive mental and lifestyle effects of starting with a light workout routine like 10 pushups a day. These will be discussed later in the article.
Will 10 pushups a day make a difference in these areas?
The main concern with doing only 10 pushups a day is whether it is enough to see results.
To grow and strengthen muscles you have to challenge them with enough resistance, do enough repetitions, consume enough nutrients, and rest enough.
What is enough depends on personal details like your current strength level and what you eat. However, there are a few general resistance training principles that can offer an answer.
Is it challenging enough?
If you can barely complete 10 pushups split up into a few sets, you would be able to see at least some muscle growth and strength progress initially.
That being said, you should hit a point where a workout with just doing 10 pushups stops being enough to see muscle growth and strength results relatively quickly.
It is hard to put this point into a general timeline for everyone but when you get to the point where you can do 10 pushups in a row, you will likely need to do more sets to see more muscle growth and strength increases.
You can avoid this to some extent by adding some resistance like a weighted vest. However, when it comes to resistance training, 10 repetitions of an exercise in a whole workout is just not that much.
In theory, some people can build muscle with workouts where they just do 10 pushups.
In practice, you want to do more repetitions, if needed of pushup progression exercises, to see significant muscle growth and strength progress.
Even just going up to 20 pushups a day will already offer a lot more potential for results.
The second potential concern about the 10 pushups a day training routine is that you are training the same muscle groups every single day.
With heavier resistance training workouts (more something like 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 15 repetitions), it is typically recommended to let the muscle groups you worked rest for an extra day.
The reason for that is that resistance training exercises damage your muscles. While this sounds bad, this damage starts a variety of internal processes that can make the muscles bigger and stronger.
However, your body still needs time to repair and grow the muscles.
That being said, for lighter workouts with 10 pushups, this will generally not be needed.
Even if this number of repetitions is enough for you to see results, it is such a low amount of volume lifted that your body should be able to do the repair and growth processes in a day.
The main reason to consider doing 10 pushups a day
The muscle growth results and the other health benefits of doing 10 pushups a day below are not that impressive. However, these are not the only reason you could consider implementing a certain exercise routine.
The exercise guidelines for adults from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion include at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and 2 or more days of resistance training for all major muscle groups a week (1).
However, if you have been relatively inactive up until now, chances are that a workout program like this would be too overwhelming physically and mentally for now.
You likely still have to get used to overcoming the energy conservation instinct.
When a big goal like a certain workout plan feels too challenging, it tends to be helpful to break up that goal into smaller steps until these steps feel more achievable.
So doing 10 pushups a day will likely not offer many physical benefits and even if it does initially give you results, these will stop relatively soon.
However, the main reason you could still start with this routine is that it is achievable and helps you form an exercise habit. Over time, you can then consider adding more repetitions and exercises.
How to get more results from your pushup routine
Once you are ready for a more intense workout routine, there are a few changes you can make to your pushup sessions.
The most important one to consider first is doing more repetitions. Doing 10 pushups is just not that much for a resistance training routine for both men and women.
When you start doing this, you will notice that bodyweight pushups are enough to see nice amounts of results as long as you push yourself close enough to failure, eat enough, and rest enough.
As you start to implement more repetitions, it could become beneficial to implement “rest” days in between your pushup sessions. You can use these days to implement other exercises into your routine.
At some point, bodyweight pushups can stop being enough or at least suboptimal to see results. When this is the case, you can start doing weighted pushups to see progress again or faster.
What to do if you can only do 10 pushups or less
Another issue many people have with this pushup routine is that it is currently too hard to do 10 repetitions in a row or even in one workout.
Luckily, this is not a permanent situation for most people. There are a few ways you can get to doing your first 10 pushups.
First of all, you can implement resistance training routines with modified pushups where you lean on your knees instead of your feet. This is easier because less of your body weight rests on your upper body muscles.
Secondly, you can do other exercises like resistance band chest presses, bench presses, the chest fly, tricep extensions, front raises, etc.
Basically, resistance training exercises that train similar muscles but work them at easier but increasingly more difficult levels until they get strong enough to do 10 pushups.
What other things can happen when you do 10 pushups a day
Muscle growth and strength progress are the standard goals and effects of doing pushups. That being said, there are a few other things that can happen to a small extent when you do 10 pushups a day.
One important thing you do want to keep in mind is that 10 pushups only take around half a minute of actual exercising.
The effects below apply to some extent but only in really small amounts due to the light workout.
How many calories do 10 pushups burn
When doing pushups your body should move more intensely than usual. In turn, it starts using up more energy which can be measured in calories.
Exactly how much this will be for you in reality depends on things like your weight, body composition, hormone levels, pushup speed, etc.
That being said, there are ways to make rough estimations. If you assume doing 10 pushups takes around 30 seconds to do, people with the body weights below can burn the following amounts of calories:
- 125 pounds (56 kg) body weight: 3 calories
- 155 pounds (70 kg) body weight: 4 calories
- 185 pounds (83 kg) body weight: 4 calories
- 215 pounds (97 kg) body weight: 5 calories
It should not be a surprise that moving more intensely for only 30 seconds burns such small amounts of calories. Even if you do 10 pushups a day for 30 days or a year.
One thing to note if you have any weight loss goals is that you don’t even need to exercise to be able to see results in this area. Other lifestyle areas like nutrition play a big role in whether and to what extent you lose weight.
If you do plan to rely heavily on exercising as a way to lose weight, you definitely want to work up to more intense workouts over time.
Small muscle endurance improvements
To see muscle growth and strength progress you need a good amount of resistance. There is also something called muscle endurance which you can improve with lighter loads.
In turn, for a certain amount of time after you stop seeing growth and strength progress with 10 pushups a day, you could still see small improvements in muscle endurance.
That being said, this will only be a very small amount of progress. This is another fitness goal where doing more pushup repetitions is recommended to see significant results.
Exercise benefits to a negligible extent
Exercise generally offers a variety of health benefits over doing nothing at all. In the case of 10 pushups a day, you really should not expect very noticeable differences.
That being said, there should still be tiny amounts of improvements in bone density (especially with weighted pushups), sleep, mood, cognitive function, etc. going on.
Again, to really get these in amounts that change your life a lot, you want to implement more intense workouts than 30 seconds of doing pushups every day.