Push-ups for arms will help you achieve the toned look you want, but they are just one part of a fitness strategy. The number of reps you need to do will vary based on your fitness level and what other exercises you are including in your workout.
There is no set number of push-up repetitions you need to do to get toned arms. Instead, determine your current fitness level and build your strength. Eat a healthy diet and include cardio in your routine to shred fat and reveal your toned muscles.
Determine Your Starting Point
Push-ups target your chest, arms, core and quads and are a great option if you don't have access to a gym or equipment. They are also a great addition to a weight lifting routine. Before deciding how many reps you need to do to tone your arms, you must first determine your starting point, advises Harvard Health Publishing. Test yourself by doing as many push-ups as you can without losing the correct form.
To do a push-up, start out in a prone position with your belly on the floor. Place your hands flat on the floor slightly wider than your shoulder width, advises ExRx.net. When you are ready, engage your core muscles to hold your body straight and straighten your arms to raise your body into a plank position. Repeat the movement by lowering your body until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.
Your spine should remain neutral and your body straight throughout the movement. If this is too difficult, lower your knees to the floor when doing the push-up.
Female Push-Up Workout Plan
Now that you know how many push-ups you can do, use that as a starting point for your workout. Aim to hit that number on each workout day, then slowly add one push-up to the set as your strength improves. When you can do 10 to 12 repetitions, start adding sets, advises the American Council on Exercise.
Another push-up workout you can try is the pyramid workout, advises the Drug Enforcement Agency. The agency recommends using this structure to help prepare for its physical fitness test.
To do this workout, you will be increasing the number of reps during each set. When you reach exhaustion and cannot complete a set with proper form, you will then decrease the number of reps until you get back to the starting point. Here is what it looks like:
- First Set: two push-ups
- Second Set: four push-ups
- Third Set: six push-ups
Continue until you cannot complete the exercises. If you reach the point of exhaustion after the third round, you will finish off the remaining set by going back down the pyramid.
- Fourth Set: four push-ups
- Fifth Set: two push-ups
In this example, you increase the reps by two for each set. You can also do a pyramid by only increasing by one repetition per set.
Add Push-Up Variations
Mix up your routine by trying some push-up variations. If you are mainly doing push-ups for arms, try a close grip push-up. This modification shifts the primary muscle worked from the pecs to the triceps, according to ExRx.net. To perform this push-up, simply move your hands in so that they are slightly narrower than shoulder width.
To make the push-up more challenging, try push-ups with your feet elevated. You can also try weighted push-ups by wearing a weight vest or having a workout buddy place a weight plate on your back as you do the exercise. Your partner needs to make sure the weight doesn't slide as you perform the movement.
Shoulder-tap push-ups for arms and abs add an additional challenge. At the top of each push-up, tap one hand to the opposite shoulder. Alternate hands after each push-up.
Round Out Your Routine
While push-ups are a great exercise that targets many muscles, including your arms, shoulders and chest, you will want to do additional moves to target the other muscles in your arm. For example, when doing a push-up, your biceps act as a stabilizing muscle, but they aren't directly targeted.
Other exercises you can consider adding to your workout routine include bicep curls, bent-over rows, shoulder press, and a reverse fly, advises the American Council on Exercise.
Keep your routine on track and avoid injury by doing a warm-up before each workout and cool down and stretch when you are finished. Throughout your workout, use the proper technique for each exercise. If fatigue is preventing you from using correct form, rest or decrease the number of repetitions in a set. Be sure to take a rest day between workouts to allow your muscles time to recover.
Drop Excess Fat
Push-ups and other upper body exercises will strengthen and tone your arm muscles, but you'll need to lose any excess weight to show them off. Push-ups and strength training alone is not enough to drop pounds. Weight loss is best achieved with a combination of diet and aerobic exercise, advises the National Institutes of Health.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that all adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio every week. To achieve a substantial amount of weight loss, aim to do a minimum of 300 minutes of cardio each week at moderate intensity. You can break this down to one hour per day, five days a week.
Eating a healthy diet is the other most important factor in achieving fat loss. New diet programs pop up frequently, but as Harvard Health Publishing points out, the best diet you can follow is the one that you can stick with. Avoid processed foods, trans fats and sugar and focus on eating whole foods including plenty of fruits and vegetables. Monitor your portion sizes and be sure you are eating because you are hungry and not out of habit or as an emotion-response.
- ExRx.net: "Push-Up"
- ExRx.net: "Close Grip Push-Up"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The Rise of Push-Ups: A Classic Exercise That Can Help You Get Stronger"
- American Council on Exercise: "Perfecting the Push-Up for All Levels"
- American Council on Exercise: "Summer Boot Camp: Arms Workout"
- National Institutes of Health: "The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity in Weight Loss and Maintenance"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Which Diet Is Best for Long-Term Weight Loss?"
- Drug Enforcement Agency: DEA Basic Agent Training