A common question that makes its way around the gym is, “How many push-ups should I be able to do?” Some people are asking this because they need upper body strength for their job, or they are planning on taking a test to join the armed forces. However, if you really just want to register for a place in the guns show, there is no real answer for how many push-ups you should be capable of doing. Many factors are involved.
Rather, you might want to think in terms of how many push-ups you want to do. Because the number of push-ups anyone is capable of performing with good technique is dependent on some variables, you can, over time, increase the number of push-ups you can do, even to absurd amounts.
Don’t believe me?
In 1980, the world record for the most consecutive push-ups was set by Minoru Yoshida of Japan. He did 10,507 repetitions non-stop.
The women’s record was set in 2016 in Sacramento, California by Fiona Castleton. She was able to achieve 555 repetitions consecutively in under 40 minutes.
However, there are hundreds of push-up related world records that prove anyone can become a push-up champion. Yes, even you!
So, let’s have a look at some of the push-up test averages and discuss just how many push-ups you should be able to do.
The Advantages of Push-Ups
Few bodyweight exercises do for the body what a standard push-up can do. Push-ups are simply the best movement for your entire upper body and can even benefit the lower body as well. If you want to chisel out your chest, burn additional fat, build bigger and stronger shoulders and arms, then you should be doing push-ups.
The major muscle groups worked with push-ups include the biceps, triceps, deltoids, core, glutes, and quadriceps. The muscles are recruited throughout the movement to stabilize the body and also help lower you down and push you away from the floor.
Since your strengthening, the upper body and back muscles, doing push-ups alone can help prevent back injuries and improper posture. It is a functional exercise, after all. The muscles worked in a push-up, such as the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid, work to do everything from pushing boxes, shopping carts, and bench pressing.
The best part? Push-ups don’t require any equipment.
Push-Up Test Norms
Now, what is the average number of push-ups a physically fit man or woman should be able to do? A professor of kinesiology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Dr. Lawrence A. Golding, states that 20-40-year-old men should be able to perform between 13-30 push-ups on average. But that’s a relatively wide range, isn’t it?
The current average norms for men, based on age:
- Age 17-19: 19-34 push-ups
- Age 20-29: 17-29 push-ups
- Age 30-39: 13-24 push-ups
- Age 40-49: 11-20 push-ups
- Age 50-59: 9-17 push-ups
- Age 60-65: 6-16 push-ups
The current average norms for women, based on age:
- Age 17-19: 11-20 push-ups
- Age 20-29: 12-22 push-ups
- Age 30-39: 10-21 push-ups
- Age 40-49: 8-17 push-ups
- Age 50-59: 7-14 push-ups
- Age 60-65: 5-12 push-ups
Now, these are the average numbers, and as you can see, the amount of push-ups you are able to go decreases as you age. Naturally, if at anytime you can do much more, such as 39-47 push-ups as a 20-29-year-old male, you are considered “good.” Can you do 47 or more? Then your push-up test grade is considered “excellent.” There are plenty of push-up test score charts available online, and some of them have slightly different ranges.
But let’s face it—most guys and gals in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond can below the numbers of the charts to the moon and beyond. What is considered average or excellent on these charts should only serve as a guideline. There are plenty of elite athletes of both genders who can outperform these researched-based charts.
You might notice looking at various charts throughout the internet that most of them stop at 65 years old. As you can guess, the numbers continue the pattern of getting fewer and fewer. However, that doesn’t mean that once you reach 80 years old, you won’t be able to do a push-up any longer.
On the contrary. There will always be highly conditioned individuals in their 70s and 80s who can perform proper push-ups. The same rule applies to all age groups. There will always be people who don’t fit into the classifications.
How To Calculate Daily Push-Ups You Should Be Able To Do
To figure out the right number of push-ups you should be aiming for as a goal to strive for and eventually sail right past, there are some factors to consider:
- Body posture
The biggest determinant here is your age. The older you are, the less muscle mass you will have. Older bodies also have less mobility and stability in the shoulders. Height and body posture will also determine how many push-ups you can do correctly, or if you need to modify the standard push-up position. If you are a beginner and slightly less conditioned, you will probably be unable to go past 10 push-ups with decent posture—and that’s okay. The same applies to people who are overweight. Even if you can only do 2 wall push-ups, you should do them. r
Many people when they first start out think that they have to smash a certain goal based on one of the charts, but that should not be the case. Ideally, a male between the ages of 20-29 should be able to do at least 15 push-ups with ease, because this person has natural muscle and endurance. However, he will have to work hard to get to 30 or 40 push-ups just starting out.
Military Push-Up Standards
Are you asking how many push-ups are expected of you because you plan on joining the armed forces? The truth is that the military push-up standards also vary depending on age, gender, and which brand of the army you are applying for. Again, if you aren’t applying, you can use this as a standard guideline for how fit you are. Also, the numbers below are a representation of the passing score for the fitness test.
Air Force: To graduate from the basic training, men must be able to perform a minimum of 45 push-ups. Females have to perform a minimum of 27 push-ups.
Army: To graduate basic training, men between the ages of 17-26 have to perform 31-35 repetitions for a satisfactory, or passing, score. Females have to perform 11-13 repetitions to pass. These are the minimum. That said, men between the ages of 17-21 are expected to perform 35 or more push-ups while men 37-41 can do 24 repetitions and pass.
Coast Guard: The minimum for men is 29 push-ups and 15 push-ups for women. These must be completed within 60 seconds.
Marine Corps: The Marines supposedly don’t have a push-up test. Awesome, right?
Navy: The Navy uses a point system, so the more push-ups you can do, the more points you acquire. The satisfactory amount is 46 repetitions done in 2 minutes.
- Navy SEALS BUD/S Prep: In order to get into the BUD/S school for SEAL training, you need to be able to do 50 push-ups in two minutes or less. However, most SEAL candidates can perform 80-100 repetitions within the same time frame, and that range is recommended if you want to train with the best.
How To Perform A Better Push-Up
There are dozens of push-up variants, but if you want to do more push-ups, then you need to master the standard push-up technique first. The correct form is to set your feet together or about 12 inches apart (and no farther) and keep your hands as far apart as possible without compromising the angle of the elbows. The wider the hands, the more you work the biceps and chest. Narrow placement of the hands will work the triceps.
The body also forms a straight line from the shoulders to the ankles. The head shouldn’t break the line, either. Be sure to engage the core to prevent the butt from lifting too high, or “tenting,” and don’t dip the hips down, sagging.
As the push-up begins, your lower your body down towards the floor by bending the elbows. The upper arms should become parallel with the ground before pushing back up. If you cannot come back to the place where the elbows are fully extended with perfect form, the repetition doesn’t count.
If you cannot perform push-ups correctly with the legs extended, you should work on maintaining form with the knees on the ground first. This will allow for the upper body and core to develop strength and stability first.
To build more strength, you can do a push-up round inspired by Henry Cavill’s Superman workout that looks like this:
- 10-12 push-ups, rest for 30 seconds
- 12-14 push-ups, rest for 30 seconds
- 14-16 push-ups, rest for 30 seconds
If you can’t do 14 push-ups yet, don’t sweat it. Focus on 3 sets, 10-12 repetitions each for about 3-4 weeks. If you feel pain or fatiguing during push-ups, decrease the repetitions. However, don’t do anymore if you think you are headed towards an injury and rest for a full 48-72 hours before heading to the gym again.
In the end, if you follow this routine, you will be doing at least 30 repetitions, non-consecutively. Whatever your goals may be, 30 is an average number on most push-up test charts and also comes with additional benefits. You will build an awesome upper body physique.
The best part about push-ups? You don’t have to do them all at once, either. Do a couple of sets every few hours. This alone will be a few minutes of isometric and cardiovascular conditioning. Overtime, the number of push-ups you can do will increase, and the time it takes for you to complete 30 or more repetitions will get shorter and shorter.
What If I Can’t Do Even A Single Push-Up?
Now you’re worried after seeing the chart because you can’t do a standard push-up. Don’t fret. As mentioned before, a push-up on your knees is perfectly acceptable for helping you build up the posture and the strength to transition to the standard push-up and other variations.
You can also work with wall push-ups and incline push-ups. Incline push-ups, where you are using a sturdy box, cardio steps, or any other raised surface to decrease the distance between your hands and your chest, are great for helping you set up for a standard push-up, because you need to engage the lower body as well.
As long as you perfect your technique and work on building strength, you will eventually be able to get your first standard push-up. From there, you will be able to do more and more. Just keep pushing yourself!
The Answer To Your Question
So, the answer to the question, “How many push-ups should I be able to do?” is that it depends! It is dependent on your age, height, weight, and fitness level. But no matter the number, you should always be pushing forward for better health and wellness. Aspire to reach that recommended number of push-ups or go above and beyond. Use the averages as a benchmark and then use this beneficial exercise to your advantage to gain more muscle size and strength.
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