Push-ups and sit-ups are calisthenic exercises that target the arms, chest, shoulders, and ab muscles, which happen to be problem areas for most people. Therefore, it is easy to assume that you can get fit and achieve the results you’re looking for by performing these exercises. However, that is not the case.
You cannot get fit by just doing push-ups and sit-ups. Repeatedly performing the same exercises will cause your body to plateau, your muscles to stop responding to the stimuli, and slower fitness progress. Alternatively, intensifying and diversifying your workout routine will render better results.
This article will explain what happens when you do push-ups and sit-ups every day, what the plateau effect is, and how to overcome it. We’ll also give you some variations of these exercises to try out.
What Happens if You Do Push-Ups and Sit-Ups Daily?
Assuming you are a beginner, doing push-ups and sit-ups every day will help you tone and strengthen the muscles associated with your arms, chest, and abdomen. Push-ups use your body weight to target your triceps, pectoral muscles, and shoulders, while sit-ups work your core-stabilizing muscles. Therefore, repeatedly performing these exercises is bound to cause the muscle size to increase or hypertrophy.
However, spot-training, or aiming to lose weight in a specific area like your arms and abs, is a losing battle. So, even though you’re getting stronger, your muscles will not be defined because you’re losing very minimal, if any, body fat.
An equally important factor is rest and recovery. Performing any exercise excessively makes you susceptible to overtraining and injury. Without proper rest, you slowly diminish your muscle’s ability to perform well. Another result of this repetitiveness is boredom. Studies show that people are more likely to stick with a workout or routine if they enjoy it.
What Is the Plateau Effect?
Consequently, as you continue to do the push-ups and sit-ups every day, your body will eventually acclimate to the stress. This is called the plateau effect. This is essentially when your muscles have also become bored of the workout, and they’re no longer responding to it. Here are some of the most common symptoms of fitness plateau:
- Your workout isn’t as energizing.
- You have stopped losing weight/gaining strength.
- You’ve lost interest in the routine.
Overcoming Fitness Plateau
The easy answer for how to overcome a fitness plateau is to do the opposite. More specifically, you need to vary and intensify your workouts, incorporate more rest and recovery time, and get proper nutrition.
Intensify Your Techniques
Intensifying your workout has little to do with how much or how often you workout. Instead, to intensify your training, you simply need to make it more challenging. This does not always mean increasing your reps. Studies show that the ideal number of repetitions is between four and eight, for a minimum of three sets. Instead, intensifying for you could mean holding weights while you do sit-ups or performing different types of push-ups.
Incorporate a Variety of Exercises
Is working out the same muscle every day good or bad? Stimulating different muscle groups is key to ensuring that you do not plateau. The cause of the plateau effect is constantly working the same muscle every day.
Do the opposite, and adding cardio is a good idea. So, if you did push-ups and sit-ups on Monday, on Tuesday, you could do cardio.
Set Aside Rest Days
Some athletes take on the ‘go hard or go home’ attitude when it comes to exercise. Yet, the reality is that by putting your body under constant stress, you’re weakening its abilities and fatiguing yourself.
The amount of rest you need is determined by the type of exercise you do or your goals. For example, if your exercise routine includes intense cardio workouts like running or swimming, it’s recommended that you rest at least every three to five days. On the other hand, if you’re weight training, you need to alternate muscle groups every time you work out so that each gets a “rest” day.
Pay Attention to Nutrition
Nutrition is more important than exercise. Whether your goal is to be healthy, slim down, or bulk up, the secret you’re looking for is in what you eat. Proper nutrition is what gives you the energy to withstand strenuous exercise and recover. Consistently getting a healthy balance of carbohydrates, fats, nutrients, and proteins will help you overcome your plateau and reach your goals.
The Principles of Fitness
There are much better ways to go about becoming fit than by doing push-ups and sit-ups every day. By following these fitness principles, you can create a workout routine, whether at or home or in the gym, that works for you.
Avoid Exercise Overload
Overload is the idea that you must be consistently working at your maximum to see real change in your muscles, or you will plateau. Achieving this maximum includes knowing when to manipulate the duration, type, and intensity of your routine.
This isn’t to say that every workout needs to push you to your limits, but instead, you should be regularly challenging yourself to break through to a new level of fitness.
Allow for Muscle Recovery
However, your body can not reach these levels unless you take the time necessary to recover. When you are operating near your maximum power, you are putting the most strain on your muscles possible. The recovery period is when your body learns to adapt to this new stimulus.
Be aware that not every recovery period will feel refreshing. Sometimes you will still have to work out even when you’re tired or sore.
Develop Specific Goals
Train for the results you want to see. If you are not specific in your training program, then you will not achieve your desired results. If you’re doing push-ups every day to bulk up your chest, instead, design a varied workout plan tailored to your upper body. We get better at what we consistently do.
Again, do not attempt to spot train. You should be working to improve your overall fitness and strength in whichever area you are looking to better.
Prevent Reversibility With Regular Activity
If you stop using your muscle, your muscles will stop growing (atrophy), and your progress will be reversed. In order to sustain your results, exercising must be an ongoing activity in your life, not just something you do before summertime comes around. Make it a part of your weekly routine.
Analyze Your Individual Progress
What works for someone else will not always work for you and vice versa. This is entirely okay and is in line with our uniqueness as humans. If you have been trying an exercise regimen that’s not working for you, don’t be afraid of dropping it and moving on. Continuously performing an exercise that you have outgrown or isn’t challenging can cause your gains to halt.
Creating a Fitness Routine
Now that you know what to do and what not to do, it’s time to create a routine that works for you. Make sure to incorporate all of the fitness principles, including the cardinal rule of doing exercise that you enjoy. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Write down which days and times you will train; this will help you stay consistent and accountable.
- Write down the days you will recover; factoring in how many days you need to recover will remind you to rest.
- Choose an activity for each workout day; keep variety in mind.
- Gradually build challenge into your workouts to keep from plateauing or getting too comfortable.
- Keep a record of your progress; this will keep you motivated.
Is doing push-ups and sit-ups every day good or bad? The better question is whether it’s helpful and is it a good idea. Doing any exercise excessively and without variation will lead to plateau and possible injury. To achieve fitness, you should instead follow fitness principles; overload, progression, recovery, specificity, reversibility, and individuality.
- How to Create Your Own Workout Plan: A Guide for Beginners
- Healthline: Sit-Ups Benefits: Exercises, Variations, and More
- Healthline: Pushups Every Day: What Are the Benefits and Risks?
- Your Weight Matters: What Does the Science Say about Spot Training
- PubMed: Explaining long-term exercise adherence in women who complete a structured exercise program
- Healthline: Are Rest Days Important for Exercise
- Your Guide to Basic Training Principles
- Understanding and Using the Overload Principle