Pushups can offer benefits but like most exercises, there is a way to overdo it. Find out how many repetitions could be too many.
The main point to keep in mind is that there are so many individual differences that it is hard to make general statements about how many pushups is too many.
Often, the answer is trying out a routine (in a smart way), watching out for signs of overtraining, and reducing the intensity or stopping in time. Especially in the area of injuries.
That being said, a very rough general guideline is that 6 sets of 8+ pushups to failure will offer most of the benefits. More than that can be considered too many in the sense that it will involve a lot of diminishing returns.
Something similar applies to doing more than 8 sets of 5 (weighted) pushups to failure.
Besides that, it is typically recommended to give your chest, tricep, and front deltoids at least one day of rest in between heavy pushup workouts.
There are people that recover quickly enough but the extra rest helps you stay away from overtraining.
How many pushups is too many for you?
The first thing you need to know is that how much exercise is too much can vary a lot from individual to individual.
Details like your age, fitness level, nutrition, sleep quality, and in the case of pushups body weight and technique influence this a lot.
For joints and tendons
The most important but vague area is how much your joints and tendons can handle before getting injured.
For some people, even 1 pushup with bad technique could be too much and cause shoulder, elbow, or wrist injuries.
On the flip side, people who are used to bench pressing (a similar movement as pushups) 180 pounds (82 kg) multiple times a week can likely do 100 pushups a day or more without issues in their joints and tendons.
Typically, the more experienced you are with resistance training exercises that involve your wrists, elbows, and shoulders, the stronger these body parts are.
In turn, you can likely do more pushups before they become too many.
In short, how many pushups your joints and tends can handle varies a lot from person to person. The main way to find out is by carefully doing them with good technique and stopping before anything serious happens.
Doing too many pushups for your muscles can be from both the standpoint of a single workout and a resistance training routine. The effects of both are typically more related to getting fewer results.
In one workout, doing 6 sets of 8+ pushups to failure is typically the point where doing more does not have a lot of extra positive effects.
If you are only able to do 5 (weighted) pushups per set, you can generally go up to 8 sets before getting a lot of diminishing returns.
From the point of a resistance training routine, many people need an extra day to recover in between heavy pushup workouts. That means doing a heavy pushup workout every day tends to be too much.
At the same time, there are still people that will recover in time and be able to do pushups every day. This is again something you can (safely) try out for yourself.
What happens if you do too many pushups?
So part of figuring out how many pushups you can do before it becomes suboptimal is trying routines out.
By knowing what the results are from overdoing it, you know where to look (or feel) to figure out whether a certain routine is too intense.
When the number of pushups you are doing becomes too much for your joints and tendons, the main consequence will be injuries.
Often you can feel these coming while doing your pushups. In that case, you definitely want to train less intensely or not at all.
That being said, there are also more sudden injuries. You avoid these by progressing your workouts slowly, implementing a good pushup technique, eating well, and sleeping well.
Less muscle growth and strength progress
Doing more pushups per workout than is generally recommended is often more of a time issue than seeing fewer results.
That being said, doing pushup workouts too often per week can reduce the amount of muscle growth and strength progress you get.
After a pushup workout, your muscles need time to repair and grow.
If you work your chest, triceps, and front deltoids too soon, you will interfere with these repair and growth processes.
Growing and strengthening your chest, tricep, and front deltoid muscles with pushups can offer valuable benefits.
At the same time, you want to keep in mind that these are not your only upper-body muscles. There are also important ones like your trapezius and scapular muscles.
If your chest muscles are too strong in relation to these, you could start pulling your shoulders forward and rounding your back.
Really overdoing it with this can lead to injuries and a posture that is typically considered to be less visually attractive.