Written by – Dhimant Indrayan
The push-up is a popular, simple, and convenient exercise that can produce positive strength, muscle, and endurance adaptations.
Moreover, the push-up is versatile. By modifying the position of your hands or feet, you can vary the stimulus created.
In this brief article, we’ll explore an interesting study by Ebben et al. that experimentally calculated how much weight you press during push-up variations.
How Much Weight You Push
In essence, the researchers had young adults (14 men and 9 women) perform a few push-up variations while their hands were on a force platform.
Peak ground reaction forces were measured from the force platform and expressed relative to the subject’s body weight. This gives us an indication of what percentage of a subject’s body weight they press during various push-ups.
The table below summarizes the results:
As detailed, in a standard push-up, you press roughly 64% of your body weight.
Elevating your feet increases the percentage of body weight you press (up to 74% when the feet are elevated 60 centimeters).
Conversely, elevating your hands decreases the percentage of body weight you press (down to 41% when the hands are elevated 60 centimeters).
Also, a kneeling push-up has you press roughly 49% of your body weight.
Using This Information
Over time, progressing your training in some form is one of the most important factors for ensuring continuous strength, muscle, or endurance gain.
By progressing to push-up variations that have you press more of your body weight, you can successfully challenge yourself and permit long-term progress.
For example, let’s say you are currently only strong enough to perform a push-up with your hands elevated 60cm (as detailed, this variation has you press 41% of your body weight).
After some time of training, this push-up variation may become easier. Therefore, you may now start training push-ups with your hands elevated 30cm (which has you press slightly more of your bodyweight, roughly 55%).
Once this variation becomes easier, you then may start training with standard push-ups (which progress you to pressing 64% of your bodyweight).
By following this same pattern, this person may eventually be able to perform push-ups with their feet elevated.
Lastly, I should mention there are other push-up variations not included in the Ebben et al. study that still may be useful for some individuals.
For instance, there exist quite a few single-arm push-up variations, such as archer push-ups, one-arm elevated push-ups, and the standard one-arm push-up.
As variations such as these distribute your body weight to one side of your body, they are significantly harder than other push-up variations that have you press with both of your hands equally.
Therefore, once an individual has progressed to the level where two-arm push-up variations are too easy (including elevated feet variations), the use of single-arm variations can likely successfully be implemented to further progress.
Original Article – Click HERE