Pushups increase strength and muscular endurance in the chest, one of the body's major muscle groups. Doing pushups right before bed, however, may make it difficult for you to fall asleep. That said, if you're able to sleep fine after exercising and can't find time to do pushups elsewhere in your schedule, nighttime is an acceptable time to do pushups. There is no set number of pushups you need to do; pushups should be performed to exhaustion.
Exercising Before Bed
While pushups are an important exercise, right before you go to bed probably isn't the best time to do them. Exercising within a few hours of bedtime may interfere with your sleep, and sleep deprivation will negatively affect your energy levels and workout performance the next day. However, exercising at night doesn't cause sleep interruptions in all people, according to University of South Carolina in Columbia exercise science researcher Shawn Youngstedt. According to Youngstedt, people who feel that exercising before bed interrupts their sleep should exercise at a different time of day, but it is fine to exercise before bed if it doesn't harm your sleep. Furthermore, as exercise is essential for good health, it's better to do pushups at night than not at all.
What's in a Number?
The amount of pushups you should be able to do depends on your age, gender and level of fitness. While the average man in his 20s might be able to perform 20 to 30 consecutive pushups, a trained athlete or Navy SEAL might be able to do as many as 200 to 300 consecutive pushups. The important thing when it comes to building strength and endurance with pushups is to do as many repetitions as you can. With time and dedication, you'll be able to increase the number of pushups you're able to do. A regular exercise routine including pushups will help improve overall fitness, stave off age-related muscle decline and increase your safety by enabling you to break a fall with your hands.
The Best Time to Exercise
Although it's better to exercise at whatever time works best for you rather than not exercising at all, the optimal time of day for doing exercises like pushups depends your body's circadian rhythms, according to the American Council on Exercise. Your temperature rises and falls throughout the day in accordance with your body's circadian rhythms. According to ACE, when your body temperature is at its daily peak, muscles are warm and flexible and your exercise performance is at its best. For most people, this optimal exercise time is late afternoon, says ACE. Therefore, you might be able to do more pushups in the late afternoon than you would at bedtime.
To get the most benefits from pushups, it's important to perform them properly. When doing a pushup, your body should form a straight line, from your shoulders to your feet, throughout the entire exercise. During the "down" part of the pushup, make sure to lower your body until your upper arms are parallel with the floor, and when pushing up into the plank position, arms need to be extended fully to complete the repetition. If you're unable to perform a pushup, try a modified pushup on bent knees instead of your toes, or lean against a countertop at a 45-degree angle and press up and down, and eventually graduate to a regular pushup.
- MSNBC.com; Is Exercising at Night Really So Bad?; Jacqueline Stenson; August 2005
- Topend Sports Network: Push Up Test at Home
- "The New York Times"; An Enduring Measure of Fitness: The Simple Push-Up; Tara Parker-Pope; March 2008
- Military.com; The Push-up Push Workout; Stew Smith
- American Council on Exercise: The Best Time to Exercise