Fascinating Facts About Push-Ups

Fascinating Facts About Push-UpsPush-ups are one of the most recognizable exercises. Look around any gym, and you’re sure to see at least a few people doing some variation of push-ups. They’re used in sports and athletic training and by the military to get new recruits in shape. They’re also combined with other tests to measure a person’s level of fitness.

Push-ups require no equipment and are the perfect bodyweight exercise to do when you don’t have access to a gym. Just drop to the ground and belt them out, using different variations to target specific muscle groups or make it more or less challenging. There’s no doubt that push-ups are an “exercise classic.” Here are some interesting facts about push-ups you may not be aware of.

The Average Number You Should Be Able to Do Varies with Your Age

According to The American College of Sport Medicine, the number of push-ups a female should be able to do is based on age. How do you stack up?

For women:

20 to 29 years 17 to 33
30 to 39 years 12 to 24
40 to 49 years 8 to 19
50 to 59 years 6 to 14
60+ 3 to 4

For men:

20 to 29 years 35 to 44
30 to 39 years 24 to 34
40 to 49 years 20 to 29
50 to 59 years 15 to 24

60+ 10 to 19

For females, this is based on push-ups done from the knees rather than the toes. If you fall short, don’t feel bad. As the American College of Sports Medicine points out, many people are unable to do even a few. Making push-ups a regular part of your workout program will increase the number you can do.

Can You Beat These Record Holders?

An American woman named Alicia Weber holds a number of push-up world records for females. For good reason. She was able to drop to the ground and do 829 push-ups in 30 minutes and 1020 push-ups in an hour. She also holds the world record for the most performed in 10 minutes – 450 push-ups. That’s a tough record to beat.

In the men’s category, Rolf Heck from Germany executed 2,354 push-ups in 30 minutes, while Bijender Singh from India holds the world’s record for the most done in an hour – 3,877 push-ups. Think you can do push-ups using one finger? Paul Lynch from Great Britain can. He earned the world record for one-finger push-ups by doing 124 without stopping.

A Push-Up Test Measures Muscle Endurance

Some people think the number of push-ups a person can do is an indicator of their upper body strength. In reality, push-ups are a measure of muscle endurance. A one-minute push-up test is one of the fitness tests used to measure muscle endurance. Some people can bench press substantial amounts of weight but are challenged to do a long sequence of push-ups. That’s because they’ve developed muscle strength through weight-training but not the muscle endurance they need to do a long series of push-ups. Just because you weight train, don’t ignore push-ups. They’re a good way to boost endurance and build fatigue-resistant muscles in the upper body.

Push-Ups Work More Than Just the Chest and Arm Muscles

Push-ups don’t just work the arms and chest – they work multiple muscle groups. Along with the muscles in your arms, chest and shoulders, you use abdominal and upper back muscles when you do a set of push-ups. The fact that you’re working so many muscle groups means you’re burning more calories than when you do an isolation exercise like biceps curls. With push-ups, you get more fitness bang for your buck.

The Bottom Line?

You may not be able to do 829 push-ups in 30 minutes, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get benefits from adding push-ups to your exercise routine. Push-ups boost muscle endurance and work multiple muscle groups simultaneously

References:

American College of Sports Medicine

The New York Times “An Enduring Measure of Fitness: The Simple Push-Up”
Recordholders.org. “World Records for Push-Ups (Press-Ups)”

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13 Responses to “Fascinating Facts About Push-Ups”

  1. Jenny July 15, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    Can you tell us what the different variations are for different muscle groups?

  2. KC July 15, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    Does it matter if you do push-ups on your knees verses toes? I try to keep up with you with toes but usually end up finishing reps on knees.

  3. Stacey @ GymandKitchen July 15, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    This is a great article on a great exercise! When I was training with my amazing power trainer – she had me doing mostly body weight exercises. Pushups were definitely on that list! She would mix strength exercises with power exercises for development of speed and power. So for example – pushups and bench presses back to back, or barbell squat and squat jumps. I learned so much from her!

  4. CatheDotCom July 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    There are hundreds of different types of push ups these days, but sticking to the basics the wider you place your hands the more outer chest you will work. The closer your hands are the more triceps are worked and the less the chest is engaged. Still other push ups will target more shoulders and even back and core muscles.

  5. Rita July 16, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Great article I make sure I belt out 20-30 pushups on my toes every morning! on a good day I can get out 45!

    Thanks Cathe

  6. jennifer July 16, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Loved the article; I keep pushing to increase my count and I’m glad to see that I’m above average – no doubt at all that it’s because of my Cathe workouts!

  7. Josephine July 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    It was good to see I’m above average for my age group. I can do 16-20 on my toes. I remember when I could barely do 3. Thanks Cathe. You have been the inspiration to push myself harder & farther than I thought possible.

  8. Rhonda July 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    I am 60. 3 to 4 push-ups?!?!?!??! Really?!?!?!?!?! Is this a joke? Thanks Cathe as I bang out out my 30 to 40……

  9. Jo July 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    I can’t remember which DVD workout includes a monster set of drop set pushups that start with 16 and reduce by 2 all the way down to 2 pushups which gives me a grand total of 72 pushups!!! Yikes, Cathe. And that’s only the beginning of this upper body workout. I’ll be 63 next week; as Cathe would say,”I’m impressin’ myself here”! I’m so grateful to you, Cathe.

  10. Amanda July 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    @Jo, I know for sure that Gym Style Chest and Triceps starts off with that killer set of drop set push-ups! I think one of the STS mesocycles also has ‘em too. They’re killer for sure!

  11. Glori July 17, 2012 at 6:51 am #

    I was a Cathelite way back in 1987 until 2004 when I went through a massive breakdown, divorce and ended up with Permanent Nerve Damage. I’m now on SSI and a lot of pain pills. I scream every morning, I’m in so much pain. I just bought the whole set of Low impact, Low Joint package, because the doctor said he refused to do surgery on me. He said I had a high risk of dying. Meanwhile, I’ve gained so much weight, it’s just causing more pain. I was so proud of myself on the push up test!!! At 53, no exercise at all, I got down on my knees and belted out 12 pushups!! That’s what I call muscle memory!! If I hadn’t have worked out with Cathe all those years, I wouldn’t be able to do anything, and I’m looking forward to excercise again. What have I got to lose?? I’ve got pain meds, for afterwards, because we make our own endorphins, just like morphine, when we workout, so chances are, if I’m slow and careful, I won’t even need any pain pills until later. But I’d rather workout again than be the size over when I was giving birth!! Exploratory surgery is so dangerous, that I’m a lot more safe gently working out with Cathe. Everybody say prayers for me, I just ordered her Low Impact, Low Joint series except the bike one. I think I’ll start with the energizing yoga and then the Slide and Glide. I can hardly take my life back into my hands. I have a great doctor, so I won’t be alone in this endeavor. But, I realized that I still have some (alot of muscle memory) memory. I believe workouts will heal me!! I prayed a lot about the surgery, and felt real bad vibes, but I felt real good vibes doing workouts, as long as I take it to my limits, very slowly. I hope my story helps anyone else out there that has lost their bodies to horrible back problems, you are not alone!! I love you Cathe!!

  12. Jennifer July 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    @ Gloria: I have the LIS DVDs. Yoga is definately the least stressful, although you can get some heat in your muscles as you keep the stretches active, stretching further & holding the poses. Slide and Glide cardio segment is EXCELLENT for joint friendly workout but tough, especially when doing the burpees, the mountain climbers leave me breathless. Two of my favorites are the Total Body Trisets and Athletic Training. There are premixes if you are short on time. Tri Sets is a great workout to help with building muscle while being joint friendly. Muscle is much more metabolically active tissue. As you build muscle, you’ll definately see results. I’ll pray that as you obey God’s laws of fitness, He will bring about your healing. Blessings on your endeavor!

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