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The Best Pushup Workout Routine in the Universe

So I was watching the fantastic Batman Begins and got inspired to create new pushup workout; I came up with what I consider the best pushup workout routine. And I’ve tried many, many pushup routines. Hey, if pushups are good enough for Bruce Wayne, they are good enough for me.

They are making a third Batman movie with Christian Bale. I’m stoked. As a side note – if you haven’t seen Batman Begins, please do so. It is even better on my second viewing.

Back to pushups. Why do I consider this routine the best one? It works fast, it is flexible – adapts to your schedule. It avoids overuse injuries. And, you can take it as far as you decide.

The Best Pushup Workout Routine

  • Train every other day. This ensures a lot of progress and a lot of rest for your ligaments and tendons. These are the real roadblocks because they recover slowly.
  • Rest on Sunday Please, at least once a week, just go for a walk in the sun (or rain). Your body and mind need to rest. Especially your mind.
  • Every set is a new record.Every set you will ever perform should be better than the last one by 1-5 reps. Obviously at first the jumps will be higher – for example set 1 – 10 reps, set 2 – 15 reps.
  • Do chest dominant pushups So the grip is slightly wider than shoulders. The chest is a huge muscle compared to the triceps which is the limiting factor in shoulder grip pushups.
  • Rest 5 minutes – rest between sets should be 3-5 or more minutes. Basically you should rest completely.
  • Do 2-3 sets. You will do mini workouts of 2-3 sets. I personally do only 2 sets. The first set will be a personal record. The second set will beat the first set.
  • Many mini workouts – fit as many of these 2 or 3 set workouts in your day as possible. For example 2 workouts – morning and evening. Or more – if time permits.
  • The repetition method you will get stronger using the repetition method. The effort in the last reps is what counts. Note that the rest between sets and between mini workouts should be as big as practically possible.
  • Three weeks on, one off – I’ve talked about this before. Fatigue piles on in the body, so you can’t train with this intensity forever. So rest for a week and start over. You will start over usually lower than the last training week but it’s ok.
  • Adapt – if you do other training, do pushups on push day or chest day, etc.
  • Optimal hand position – as I wrote above, the pushups should be chest dominant. How to find you best stance? Lie on your stomach and then place your hands on the ground to push yourself off in the most comfortable position. This is your pushup position.
  • Tempo – the tempo is fast but controlled. Slower descent and fast elevation.

Note: Coach Paul Wade just released the sequel to his body weight training masterpiece Convict Conditioning.

This one is called Convict Conditioning 2 and covers things like L-sit progressions (which I listed here), grip training with pullup bar holds, joint health, calf training and much much more. I’ve already got it and am very happy with this addition to my fitness library.

Here is a summary of the best pushup workout routine – do 2-3 sets with 3-5 minutes of rest in between with as many reps as possible, beating your record each time; train as many times as you can in a given day, train every other day and rest on Sunday and every 4th week.


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44 Comments - Share Are Your Thoughts

  1. Awesome Post Yavor, and congrats to the new Look! Awesome, really really great! ;-)

    Yeah Like this “density” type of body weight stuff, I did, like a 100m pull Ups in a day like that and I was sore like a mother, couldn’t pick my nose or brush my hair for a day or two! ;-)

    Mark

    P.S.
    And this is obviously really great for beginners and folks who can’t crank out but 2-3 reps in the chins? No Problem, just do 50 over the course of the day: done.

  2. Yavor

    Thanks Mark, your tip is great for beginners./

    The method I’m talking about here is a kind of mix between HIt training (1-2 sets to failure) and “greasing the groove” (many sets throughout the day).

    Problem with HIT is that you train only once per day. Problem with greasing the groove – fatigue. So I fix those two problems by combining the methods.

    So far it works great with me on both pushups and dips. Almost got to my former dip PR (33 dips when I trained with heavy dips with a weighted belt).

    i’m up to 31 dips dong this routine here.

  3. Yavor,

    Great post. Pushups are one of my favorite exercises, although I prefer some of the different variations to standard pushups. I’ve personally never tried a routine like this where I workout multiple times per day. This definitely seems like the best way to build up strength at a single exercise quickly, though.

    Alykhan

  4. I like this Yavor. Great stuff. One question:

    “Every set you will ever perform should be better than the last one.”

    How does fatigue play into this? Are we going to failure? If we are then I don’t see myself outperforming each set.

  5. Yavor

    Srdjan, go to failure. Then rest COMPLETELY. Take as much time as needed. Then do one more set. You should be completely rested and feel like you can do it. Failure hinders the progress if you rest only 1-3 minutes. But if you rest completely it’s fine.

    It works! today I reached an all time PR of 38 dips (180lbs bodyweight) using this method.

  6. Great article on pushups. I’ve always been a big believer that pushups are one of the best exercises around. Nowadays I focus more on one-arm pushups, a variety of ring pushups and decline pushups but I always finish workouts with traditional pushups.

  7. I cant wait to graduate from university, so i can really workout properly again and gain as much strength as possible and also follow some of the workouts you guys lay out and see if they’re any good, convict conditioning 2 is great. I have actually made a youtube channel based on both convict conditionings where I give my interpretation of the exercises. I dont believe the form is perfect on all of them but they are still effective i feel. here it is http://www.youtube.com/user/ConvictConditioning2

  8. Willrob

    Going to give this a try on the dips I think.

    Yavor, what is your body composition like these days? I know you use to do progress pics and what not.

    Are you following any programs or just doing push ups and dips in this manner?

    Could you do this for pull ups?

    Willrob

  9. Yavor

    Will, no routine right now. But as the winter approaches, I will start a home dumbbell/pushup/handstand pushup routine. As for body composition – probably 12-13%bf now…

    p.s. I’ve done this for pullups – reached 21..

  10. willrob

    Good deal Yavor. I’m going to start on dips next week.

    You still working on your ebooks you mentioned awhile back ?

  11. Yavor,
    Push-ups are a great exercise that can be done anywhere at anytime. I use push-ups as finishers after my weight training. Using the Tabata principle I perfrom 8 intervals of 20 seconds all-out intensity push-ups followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is a great way to burn fat and achieve a lean muscular look.
    Niko

  12. Thanks for the explanation Yavor.

  13. Yavor,

    I love the new look.

    I had the same question as Srdjan. Even so I tend to hit a plateau at about 45 reps. At what point do you recommend weighted pushups – I’ve been experimenting with workout routines for my Bulgarian Training bag (might be my first product in the making).

    Any suggestions for higher reps?

    Niko, tabata’s are fun. My favorite tabata exercise to love/hate is the burpee. They engage more of the body than a pushup alone.

    -Troy

  14. Yavor

    Troy, if you can do them, weighted pushups re better than regular ones. If you can do 20 regular pushups, oyu are ready for weighted ones.

  15. Eric

    Love the Site. Look forward to your next post. Hope its soon. :-)

  16. Yavor

    Eric, yup coming real soon!

  17. Alex

    Can I use this routine with two exercise.One for the upper body, and one for the lower?For example pushups with squats?And if I am doing this all week (except sunday) when should I incorporate some deadlift and kettlebell training?

  18. Yavor

    Alex, do this routine 3x per week. If doing deadlifts or kettlebell swings, it’s best to do them on the same day as this routine, so that you have rest days with no resistance training.

    If you choose to train 6x per week, do this routine 3x per week and do 2 sets of deadlifts/swings etc on the other days.

  19. Alex

    Thank you for your advice!

    Yavor, what is your training routine right now?

  20. Yavor

    Alex, right now I do outdoor pullups and dips, handstand pushups and planks at home and also I walk 1hr with my dog.

    I like to change things up to keep myself interested.

    Just started experimenting with commando pullups and typewriter pullups.

  21. Alex

    Are you doing these exersice in the “Best Pushup Workout Routine in the Universe” manner?I mean pullups and dips.The plank and handstand pushups casnnot be done in that way.

    Today I tried the pushup routine.I did two wourkouts,one in the afternoon and one in the evening.Both of them right before eating.The first time I did 1×21,1×26.The second 1×22,1×23.Is this the right way?I pumped myself like never before and my skin was red.Meybe from the lactic acid.

  22. Yavor

    Alex, sounds like you were tired on the second workout. You should be rested and fresh. In your mind you ogtta be ready to beat the last workout.

  23. Alex

    Yeah I think so.I started the week with “greasing the groove” and after I read your article I decided to give it a try.So I was overtrained.

  24. Willrob

    Has anyone been doing this long enough to notice any muscular development? Or are your #’s of reps just going up?

  25. Yavor –

    As a bodyweight exercise enthusiast myself, your website is a valuable resource for me.

    Question: since you’re advertising Convict Conditioning, would you care to comment on a major difference between your exercise frequency prescription (most days, GTG, etc.) and Paul Wade’s typical prescription of once a week.

    The reason I ask is because I’d prefer a little more exposure than once a week, but too much more than that really irritates my connective tissues.

  26. Yavor

    Dale, for me training more often works because this is how a lift is practiced and therefore improved upon.

    However, I definitely see where you are coming from because certain tendons (for example the long head of the biceps is stressed in both pushing and biceps flexing when the arm is raised) can be a limiting factor in recovery. I think Paul Wade plays it a bit safe. Also maybe it has to do with the fact that he is an older guy.

    So it comes to maximum practice vs. recovery and being able to practice without interruption.

  27. Yavor –

    Thanks for the feedback. Hehe, I’m an old guy like Paul Wade. I’m also skinny and seem especially prone to tendonitis.

    I do suspect you nailed it though. As much as you can without leading to interruption in training. For my OAP progressions, I can probably handle twice a week, for now. But even that will have to be monitored.

    As I understand it, Wade’s philosophy is to regard such movements as strength movements rather than skill movements, thus the lesser frequency for recovery, etc.

  28. Yavor

    Dale, yes the basic idea is to use a double progression – add reps and then switch to a harder exercise. Then add reps again, then switch to another even harder movement etc.

  29. Thanks for the post. I was very happy to see that you’re advocating not to overtrain. I’ve seen many people over train when doing pushups because they seem to think more is better. I don’t believe in this as doing more equals more endurance but not more bulk or muscle. I think this is why some people don’t like doing bodyweight exercise because they don’t think they can build any bulk. Thanks for the routine and making it easy to follow.

  30. Shane

    ….so, doing between 300 and 500 pushups everyday, except Sunday, all within an hour is a bad thing? Most nights I do 300 pushups in about 40 minutes and some nights I do 500 pushups within 60 minutes. I have a goal to be able to perform 1000 pushups within 60 minutes. My best attempt thus far is 600 pushups in 60 minutes.

  31. Yavor

    Shane, I don’t think it’s a bad thing as long as your shoulders, elbows and wrist can take it. Also, you are very fit – congrats!

  32. Shane

    Yavor,thanks for the compliment. I am trying to get back in shape; I’m mid 40’s and was more than 30 pounds overweight. I am “old school” when it comes to body-weight exercise, but very up to date on nutrition and supplementation. The proper amount of Rest and consuming the proper Fuel really are key to maximizing physical development.

  33. Damir

    Hi Yavor,

    just stumbled upon your site looking for renegade rows.
    This method seems completely new for me, and I would like to try it.
    However, I would like to aim for the arms (triceps/biceps) instead of chest.
    What do you recommend – I guess dips for triceps?

    Thank you and read you soon :)
    Damir

  34. Damir

    Sorry, I forgot to add my workout routine info.
    Currently I’m on 4 times per week split, working with weights (6-12 reps range, depending on the muscle group).
    As I understood, you recommend NOT to interfere with my rest days and incorporate this into my workout days?
    I workout Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri – should I do it e.g. Mon-Wed-Fri or Tue-Thu-Sat?
    I guess the answer is – depending on my muscle group of those days? :)

    Cheers,
    Damir

  35. Yavor

    Damir, yes incorporate it depending on the muscle group you train.

    As for which exercise – dips work great. Also close grip pushups work great too (close grip is shoulder width apart). Make sure not to lockout on each rep so that you keep constant tension on the triceps.

  36. Wes

    So basically, the idea is to do push-ups until fatigue, then rest for several minutes and do it again. Do this two to three times a day every other day. This hardly sounds like a revolutionary way to do push-ups, as a lot of people people probably already do this unknowingly. I have the same concern as a previous poster. I just can’t see beating your record every set. I can do right around 100 push-ups in a set, and I know after five or even ten minutes of rest I’m not too going to beat that. This seems mainly aimed at beginers, is that correct?

  37. Yavor

    If you can do 100 pushups, you should find a more challenging variation that allows you under 50 reps or better yet under 20 reps.

  38. Gymboss76

    This sounds like a great routine. I’d love to integrate it onto my currrent weight training (5 days/week) because I’m really a hard gainer in the chest department!
    What do you actually mean by “adapting” it to fit push/chest day? If I had to do this every other day it’s bound to also fall on a Legs day or cardio day, or do you mean something else?
    Many thanks

  39. Yavor

    I would put it on chest/push day.

  40. ryan

    Hey I love working out to bild musel

  41. Johnny

    Great article and site.
    Thanks in advanced for your input.
    I practice Martial Arts twice weekly 1 hour sessions.
    Want to combine weights and pushups.
    Should I do it 2 or 3 days?
    Work a labor job so rest and recoperation important.

  42. Yavor

    Johnny, do it 2 days.

  43. Lee

    Interesting article Yavor. I did this routine years back in a similar fashion. However I found it to be only a ladder of endurance success, not a muscle building accomplishment. A hard body can be built with body weight but it needs more sufficient rest. 100 reps twice a week, pull ups and dips on separate days work much better. 100 reps meaning in total, 12 of 8 reps or 8 of 12 reps instead of going to failure.
    Monday and Thursday, 100 reps total of pull ups, so 200 reps a week. Tuesday and Friday, 100 reps total of pushes, so 200 reps a week. Pull ups are the ultimate in muscle development. Dips come second, if push ups are too easy. However push ups can be made more difficult if you use steps. I can do up to 3 steps on a set of stairs, but I don’t know how much higher a person can go after that? Have you tried anything higher Yavor?

  44. Yavor

    Lee, I agree with you.

    As for pushups, you can substitute them with handstand pushups against a wall. Those are harder.


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