Rick Hamilton, Martial Artist since 1960. Sensei / Sifu
Everybody has a different formula for increasing the number of push-up/pull-up reps.
Here’s mine… it’s a simple Rule of Thumb, and it works!
- Learn this term, “Repetitions to Failure” (“RTF). For push-ups, your RTF is the number of consecutive push-ups you can do before your arms give out and you fail to complete the next one.
- Calculate your personal RTF. Just get down and do as many as you can, stopping only when your arms give out and you can’t do another. From your question, I infer that you can do 5, but not 6. So your starting RTF is 5.
- Now calculate 75% of your RTF. In your case, .75 x 5 = 3.75. Round the RTF up, and you get 4. That is your Target Reps Number (TRN). Remember it.
- Get down on the floor, and do your TRN (4 push-ups). Don’t do 5… stop at 4,
- Wait three minutes, then repeat your TRN.
- Wait three more minutes, then repeat your TRN.
- Continue doing your sets of 4, separated by three minute pauses until you are unable to complete a full set of 4.
- Your workout is complete
In three or four days, test yourself. See how many consecutive push-ups you can do before failure, and calculate your new TRN.
Use your new TRN in future exercise sessions… but test yourself and adjust your TRN every 3–4 days. The number will steadily increase.
The reason this program works so well is because it enables you to perform a maximal number of push-ups in each workout. Doing Repetitions to Failure would deplete your energy, and additional attempts the same day would be disappointing.
Limiting each set to your Target Reps Number will ”leave gas in your tank”, and enable longer, more productive workouts.
This schedule works well for any strength exercise where increased endurance is the goal.