Is It Better To Do Push-Ups In Sets Or All At Once?

Is It Better To Do Push-Ups In Sets Or_All At Once

Daily push up goals are fun to work towards, and there are many ways to go about achieving them, such as splitting push ups in multiple sets throughout the day or knocking them all out in one mega set.

So, is it better to do push-ups in sets or all at once? If you are looking for a more challenging session, or your goal is to build muscle mass, doing push ups all at once is a better option.  However, if you struggle with technique as you get closer to fatigue, breaking your total reps into multiple sets is preferred. 

In this article I will cover the following:

  • The difference between push ups all at once, in sets, and throughout the day
  • Why push ups in sets might be an easier option
  • The pros and cons of doing push ups all at once, in sets, or throughout the day
  • Tell you who should do push ups all at once or throughout the day.

Push-ups In Sets Or All At Once Overview:

When it comes to sets and reps for pushups, daily volume is most important. We have flexibility when it comes to how we want to achieve volume, whether it’s all at once, multiple sets, or throughout the day.

However, our skill level and goals can be a big determining factor for how we program push ups.

All At Once

If we are doing our push ups all at once then we are doing as many as we can until achieving failure, while taking small breaks to reach our goal rep count.

Doing your push ups all at once can be a great option if you are trying to challenge yourself, as well as build muscle mass. 

Sets

Splitting push ups into multiple sets can be a more organized approach to achieving the goal rep count. For example, this would look like doing 10 sets of 10 reps in one session to achieve the goal rep count of 100.

Doing push ups in sets can be a great way to split up the volume, and to ensure optimal rep quality and completion of the total rep goal.  

This is in contrast to doing them all at once where your technique might start to break down as you get closer to fatigue.  In my opinion, maintaining high quality reps is much  more important than reaching your total rep goal at all costs.

Throughout The Day

When it comes to getting results with push ups, total volume throughout the week is most important. With this in mind, one might want to split up their push up sessions throughout the day because it can be daunting to do a large number of pushups in one session.

This might be something you think about, especially if you are limited on time throughout the day or are intimidated by the goal rep count that you have set for yourself.

For example, if your goal rep count is to do 100 push-ups, you might decide to do 25 push ups at breakfast, 25 push ups at lunch, 25 push ups at dinner, and 25 push ups before bed.  

Following this structure 3-4 days per week will give you better results than doing one mega push up session to failure, and then not training push ups again for another week.  

2 Reasons To Do Push Ups In Sets

You Are Unable To Do A Large Number Of Push Ups

Doing push ups in sets, can be a more manageable approach to achieving a high repetition count. This way you can break a number like 100 or 200 down to several sets of 10 – 50 to maintain proper form and technique.

Clear Defined Set And Rep Count

You can control the total number of repetitions that are being achieved in each set. This allows for a more balanced and even session, rather than doing all of the push ups until failure. 

1 Cons To Push Ups In Sets

Less Of A Pump

A “pump” might be a feeling that we get from accumulating fatigue after doing a bunch of repetitions at once. However, we might not get a pump if we are doing our sets with a short rest in between.

2 Reasons To Do Push Ups All At Once

Greater Accumulated Fatigue

Similar to a tempo rep, there is a lot of time under tension when we are achieving from a large number of repetitions. And, since we can do a lot of push ups in one sitting, that’s a lot of fatigue that we can accumulate from doing all of the push ups at once. Greater muscular fatigue leads to greater gains in muscle mass over time.

Building Skill

People might have asked you many times in your life, “how many pushups can you do?” This is something that is commonly tested in the military and various sport settings. By doing sessions where we do all push ups at once, we can build greater endurance and capacity towards achieving a high rep count in a set of push ups.

Related Article: 12 Best Bodyweight Tricep Exercises (At Home & No Equipment)

2 Cons To Doing Push Ups All At Once

More Challenging

It can be pretty hard to do a large number of push ups all at once, for this reason we typically split our rep count between multiple sets. Otherwise, this can be one of the bigger barriers to accomplishing a larger number of repetitions all in one set.

Less Effective Repetitions

As we are going through a single set, our form will start to noticeably break down. Because of this, we are experiencing less effective practice by doing all of our repetitions in one set. Splitting up volume between multiple sessions or sets can ensure higher quality reps and practice.

2 Reasons To Do Push Ups Throughout The Day

More Recovered Per Session

Splitting up total push ups throughout the day can allow you to rest between sessions. If we are more recovered for a session, then we might be more motivated and effective with our push ups.

Achieve Higher Total Volume

By doing push ups throughout the day you are allowing your body to recover between sessions. When we are more recovered, we are able to achieve greater repetitions, resulting in greater daily total volume.

2 Cons To Doing Push Ups Throughout the Day

Disjointed Workout

When we break up our workout in multiple sessions, it can ruin the flow of things, which can make training less enjoyable. I recommend tying some other movements into the multiple push up sessions to have at least one or two challenging sessions a day.

Time Consuming

Typically it’s hard to fit one workout in a day, let alone 2 or 3. Time can be a big determining factor for whether you do your pushups in one session or throughout the day.

Push Ups In Sets vs All At Once vs Throughout The Day: Which Is Best For You?

Do Push Ups In Sets If

  • You are trying to get better at technique
  • You are newer to doing push ups
  • You want to organize your workout
  • You aren’t prepping for a test or goal rep count

Do Push Ups All At Once If

  • You want a challenge
  • You want a pump
  • You working towards a goal rep count
  • You are limited on time

Do Push Ups Throughout The Day If

  • You are trying to get better at technique
  • You are newer to doing push ups
  • You want to be fresh for your push up sessions
  • You have time to set aside for multiple sessions a day

Check Out My Other Push Up Guides:

Final Thoughts

Any route you choose to take to get your daily push ups will be effective, whether it be throughout the day, in sets, or all at once. 

Do push ups throughout the day if you have time to set aside, and want to be fresh for each session. Push ups all at once can be a fun option to choose if your goal is to bang out as many as you can. Splitting your push ups into sets can help you organize your work out and help improve rep quality.


About The Author

Javad Bakhshinejad

Javad Bakhshinejad was born and raised in the Washington Area. Currently, he is a student at Seattle University where he’s been pursuing an MS in Kinesiology, and has been a Strength Coach in the athletic department. He was a competitive bodybuilder for 8 years where he later transitioned to competitive powerlifting for 4 years. Currently, He has his own personal coaching business, where he works with powerlifters and bodybuilders.