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Push Ups. How Much of Your Body Weight Do You Lift? Make Push Ups More Difficult, Lift More Weight, Get Better Results.

Updated on September 16, 2018
Push up, 65% of my body weight.
Push up, 65% of my body weight. | Source

Push Ups vs Bench Press

When you do push ups you are pushing yourself up with your arms. You are lifting your body. Push ups are a bodyweight exercises that work your triceps, chest, abs, back muscles and shoulders. There are lots of ways to do push ups but the standard form is the most popular. How many push ups can you do? Can you do 100 push ups in a day or 100 push ups in a row? How many push ups can you do in a minute? With push ups the focus is usually on the number you can do. It is mainly done as an endurance exercise.

When you do barbell bench presses you are pushing weight up in the air. You are lifting the weight you put on the bar, plus the bar. Bench presses works the chest and triceps as well as the shoulders and back. How much can you lift? The exercise is used for increasing strength and muscle mass. The focus is usually on lifting more weight rather than increasing the number of reps. It is easy to add more weight to the bar.

Push ups and bench presses are very similar exercises. For a chest and triceps workout you could switch one with the other as long as the weight is the same. The main advantage bench presses have over push ups is that it is a lot easier to increase the weight. However that makes it easy to add more weight than you can handle. The bench press exercise can be dangerous when done alone. The main advantage of push ups over the bench press is that push ups work more muscles. The main disadvantage is that you may not know how to increase the weight or how much weight you are lifting.


Push Ups
Bench Press
Free, no equipment required.
Weight plates make it easy to add or remove weight from the bar.
Can do them almost anywhere.
Can progress with the same simple up and down movement.
Can safely do them while you are alone.
Another person can assist you.
Works your core. A good ab exercise.
Focuses more on chest and triceps.
Functional strength. Helps with other activities and exercises.
Faster results because the movement stays the same and you work fewer muscles.

Bodyweight Percentage, How Much Weight?

The easiest way to see how much weight you are lifting is to get into a push up stance with your arms on a scale. See how much you weigh then subtract 5 percent of your body weight because you are not lifting your hands or forearms. A person that weighs 130 pounds would subtract 6.5 pounds. That will tell you how much weight you lifted. Dividing the weight lifted by your bodyweight will tell you the percentage of your bodyweight that was lifted.

  • weight on scale - ( bodyweight*.05) = weight lifted
  • (weight lifted / bodyweight)*100 = bodyweight percentage lifted

Wall push ups, 75% of my bodyweight.
Wall push ups, 75% of my bodyweight. | Source

Using a scale I found that I was lifting about 65 percent of my bodyweight with regular push ups. Doing decline push ups on the stairs I was lifting 70 percent of my bodyweight. When I switched to wall push ups I was lifting 75% of my body weight. If I did arms only push ups I would be lifting 95% of my body weight. Lifting 100% of your body weight while doing push ups requires some extra weight.

Wearing a 13 pound backpack allowed me to lift 75% of my body weight while doing regular push ups. Wearing a 40 pound backpack would allow me to lift 100% of my bodyweight. If I did wall push ups then I would need 32 extra pounds. Wall push ups can be done against a door or even your bed. Arms only push ups would only require an extra 6.5 pounds. An alternative to adding more weight is to use one arm instead of two. Another alternative is change the width of your grip.

Wide grip push ups work your chest and shoulder more than regular push ups. To focus more on the triceps use a narrow grip. Changing the width makes a big difference. Diamond push ups are a narrow grip push up. You put your hands together with your fingers and thumbs touching. The space between them forms a diamond or triangle. When you do a diamond push up your triceps are working harder. They are lifting more of the weight. You can build more muscle and become stronger without adding more weight by changing the distance between your hands.

Diamond push ups are one of the best exercises for the triceps and they can help you transition to one handed push ups. Doing one armed push ups is similar to lifting 130% of your body weight but it is more difficult. Your hand should be under your body to help you balance yourself. Putting your legs farther apart makes doing one armed push ups easier.

Weighted Push ups, 75% of my body weight. Depends on the weight that was added.
Weighted Push ups, 75% of my body weight. Depends on the weight that was added. | Source

Better Results

If you are doing push ups to build muscle mass and increase your strength then you should try to lift more than 65% of your bodyweight. Instead of continuing to increase the number of reps, increase the weight or progress to more difficult push up variations. Lift more weight by raising your feet and adding more weight. You can add extra weight by wearing a backpack, weight belt or a weight vest. Target specific muscles by changing the width or your grip. Combine two or more methods to get the equivalent of lifting 100% of your body weight or close to it.

Increasing the weight you are attempting to lift from 65% or your body weight to 75% is easy. Increasing it to 95% or 100% is a little more difficult. Doing push ups with your legs in the air is more difficult than lifting 95% or 100% of your body weight with weighted push ups. Adding over 40 pounds to a backpack could wreck the backpack and you need to be careful. If the backpack is too heavy for you then it could hurt your shoulders and back.

I tried decline push ups, wall push ups, weighted push ups, narrow grip push ups and tuck planche pushups. Tuck planche push ups are the ones with your legs in the air. Weighted push ups allowed me to lift my body weight but I did not like wearing a 40 pound backpack. My solution to get better results is to work towards doing wide and narrow grip wall push ups with a 13 pound backpack, as well as tuck planche push ups and one arm push ups.

  • Raise your feet
  • Add weight
  • Change the width of your grip

For functional strength and to get fit do a variety of push ups. Do standard push ups, incline push ups, decline push ups, narrow grip push ups, wide grip push ups and weighted push ups. You could work up to doing push ups with your legs in the air. If your goal is just to increase the amount of weight you can bench or to get the look that bench presses can give you then I recommend focusing on wide grip and narrow grip weighted push ups. 8 to 12 reps is good for strength training.

© 2018 Michael H


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