The 100 Pushups Challenge is exactly what it sounds like: a challenge to build your strength and stamina to the point where you can do 100 pushups in a row. There’s even a Hundred Pushups Training Program to help you get there in less than two months (and it’s totally free).
But let’s back up a second. Why would someone in their right mind want to do 100 pushups in a row?! “Well, besides the fact of showing off and being a true badass?” asks Joey Thurman, a certified personal trainer and author of 365 Health and Fitness Hacks That Could Save Your Life. “Pushups are more than a chest exercise; they are the gold standard of kinetic awareness, muscular control, core stability, endurance, and strength.”
BUT IS IT REALLY POSSIBLE TO DO 100 PUSHUPS?
One hundred consecutive pushups is a lot. But for comparison’s sake, the world record for the most number of non-stop push ups is 10,507—so how does 100 sound now?
Like with any goal, you need a plan, and the 100 Pushups Training Program breaks your training down into six weeks, with about 30 minutes of pushups per week. Also more reasonable, right?
Realistically, though, there’s no real amount of time it should take someone to build up to 100 reps. “Like with anything in fitness, every body is different, with unique abilities, limitations, genetics, nutrition, rest, recovery, and training protocol,” says Thurman. “To tell you the truth I can’t even do a 100 pushups in a row—but that’s because I do them correctly.”
HOW DO YOU DO A PROPER PUSHUP?
That’s a major point Thurman makes: You can’t do a challenge like this if you don’t do the pushups right. Here’s how it breaks down:
Start in a plank position, arms extended directly below your armpits and elbows below your shoulders. Your hips should be level with your shoulders and your spine in a neutral position. Maintain space between your chin and clavicle as you gaze toward the floor. Engage your abs and squeeze your glutes to take the pressure off your lower back. Bend at your elbows, and slowly lower your body as a unit, keeping everything in line. As you go down, let your shoulder blades naturally retract or pull back, so your back can help control your motion. When your chest gets close to the ground, pause. Keeping the pressure spread throughout your fingers, push the floor away from you as fast as you can to drive back up to the start position.
HOW DO YOU WORK YOUR WAY UP TO 100 PUSHUPS?
Once you’ve got that nailed down, you can consider the Hundred Pushups training plan. The program requires three days a week of pushup work, and the sets are broken down into varying numbers to build your muscular endurance. “You don’t want to go to 100 right away,” warns Thurman. “Think of it as marathon training: You don’t go all out and run 26.2 miles in your first training run, you progress up to it.”
During week one, for example, the most pushups you’ll do in one go is 12 (and that’s for advanced exercisers!); by week two, you’ll be doing 20-plus and in week four, you’ll top out around 40.
That gradual build-up is so important. “Obviously, too many pushups could lead to overuse and injury,” says Thurman. “You may also risk becoming anterior dominant, which means the front part of your body will become overworked and cause rounding of the shoulders and put extra stress on your spine.”
To avoid that, “make sure to focus just as much (if not more) attention on posterior muscles like your back, hamstrings, and butt. And remember to go at your own pace and listen to your body; if something hurts, adjust your form, and if it still hurts, STOP!”
WHAT’S THE BENEFIT OF CRANKING OUT 100 PUSHUPS?
Once you get into the swing of the routine, you’ll notice that you’ll start to feel stronger, taller, and more energised, says Thurman. “Besides the strength and energy, you have more control over your back, your shoulders will be carved out, and you’ll have a nice horseshoe on the back of your arms from those strong triceps!” Don’t neglect your other body parts, though—”if we train supporting muscle groups and make them stronger, we’ll get stronger as a whole,” he says.
IS IT SAFE TO DO 100 PUSHUPS A DAY?
If you manage to hit 100 pushups, congrats, you’re a true badass. But 100 consecutive pushups should not be part of your daily workout routine, for the same reason you shouldn’t do 500 crunches before bed every night. “Your muscles grow and repair when they rest,” says Thurman. “If you don’t give your body a chance to recover and grow you will risk overtraining and injury. Give it at least 24 hours before busting out another hundred.”
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US