How heavy are push-ups?
The push-up is one of the best-known exercises. There are many variations of the push-up, and these variations can differ substantially in their difficulty. This allows beginners to use an easier variation to start and then progress to more difficult variations as they improve.
This study quantified the training load of different push-up variations: hands elevated (30 or 60 cm box), feet elevated (30 or 60 cm box), knees on the ground, and the regular push-up. The push-ups were performed on a force platform to assess ground reaction forces, and these were then expressed as a percentage of body weight. The subjects were recreationally fit young adult males and females.
The 60 cm hands elevated variation was the easiest push-up and equaled 41% of body weight. A regular push up equaled 64% of body weight, and the most difficult version tested was when the feet were elevated the most (74% bodyweight).
Therefore, by elevating your hands or feet, you can adjust the difficulty of the exercise as desired. Increasing the height of your feet relative to that of your hands will increase the load.
In conclusion, the training load of a regular push-up equals ~65% of your body weight. The load of push-ups can be manipulated by elevating the hands (to make it easier) or the feet (to make it more difficult).
Jorn Trommelen. Jorn earned his MSc in Nutrition and Health with top honors at Wageningen University & Research Centre. He then obtained his PhD in Muscle Metabolism at Maastricht University, at one of the leading laboratories in that field. He now works at Maastricht University as Assistant Professor.
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