The pushup is considered to be one of the best bodyweight exercises for building strength, and it’s widely used in military programs and workout routines around the world.
It should be a staple of any bodyweight program, but have you ever found yourself wondering how much of your body weight you lift with this movement?
During a pushup, it’s thought that you lift as much as 69% of your bodyweight at the top of the movement, and 75% at the bottom. For someone who weighs 200lbs, that would equate to 138 lbs at the peak of the pushup and 150 at the bottom.
If you want to build upper body strength without reaching for a barbell or dumbbell, a pushup-based program can produce excellent results.
Bearing in mind that you can lift a large portion of your bodyweight through every pushup, with enough repetitions you can comfortably maintain and even develop muscle mass with the movement.
However, the percentage of bodyweight lifted during the pushup will depend on various factors, the most important of which is related to the type of pushup you are doing.
A modified pushup isn’t going to use as much of your bodyweight as a full pushup, for example.
Bodyweight Lifted According to Size
To save you the effort of doing the math, we’ve compiled this table so you can see at a glance how much weight you’re lifting during a pushup according to your body weight.
While you’re unlikely to see your actual bodyweight in the table, you should be able to get a rough idea and you can also do the calculations for yourself if you want an accurate estimate.
|Body Weight||Weight Lifted at Top (69%)||Weight Lifted at Bottom (75%)|
The information we’ve provided up until now has been based on the full pushup, which is to say a pushup in which both knees are off the ground.
However, with different pushup variations you are going to lift more or less of your body weight.
The modified pushup is just as common as the full pushup.
To perform this pushup variation, you simply need to plant your knees on the ground instead of having them in line with the rest of your body.
As you might imagine, by having the knees placed on the ground, this places less stress on the body overall as you won’t be lifting quite as much of your body weight with every repetition.
In the modified pushup, you can expect to lift around 53% of your bodyweight at the top of the movement, and 62% at the bottom of the movement.
This is a significant difference from the standard pushup, as you will be lifting 16% less in the top portion of the exercise and 13% less for the bottom portion.
To give you an idea of what that means in terms of weight, if you were to ask a 200 lb person to perform a modified pushup they would be lifting 106lbs of their weight at the top of the pushup and 124 lbs at the bottom.
As a result, if you’re looking to build upper body muscle and you’re able to do the full pushup, then you absolutely should to see the best results.
As a beginner to working out and strength training, you might be tempted to start off easy with a modified pushup and work your way up to the full pushup.
However, it might be best for your long-term results if you start out with the full pushup, even if you can only do one or two.
The modified pushup puts less strain on the upper body and eliminates the lower body from the movement, so you lose a lot of the strength-building potential of the pushup.
If you are currently doing the modified pushup, you could try wall pushups and incline pushups as transition movements to build the wrist strength you need for the full pushup.
As you’re probably well aware, there are more pushup variations than days in a month, so how do these variations affect the amount of bodyweight you lift with each repetition?
Well, it’s hard to say with some of the more complex variations such as spiderman, explosive, and one-leg pushups, but we do know what you can expect with incline and decline pushups.
Incline and decline pushups are two of the most popular variations you’ll come across, and for good reason.
Both of these types of pushups offer up something a little different for your upper body, and can help you mix up your bodyweight workout routine.
With the incline pushup, you’re generally going to lift less body weight than a standard pushup, but with a decline pushup you can lift progressively more body weight and make the movement much more challenging.
The incline pushup is an excellent variation if you want to move from modified to full pushups, or if you just want to work on nailing the correct form.
With your hands raised off the ground – ideally on a bench or another solid surface – you can expect to lift approximately 40% of your body weight.
This is substantially less than the full pushup and the modified pushup, which makes it a great place to start as a beginner or if you’re looking to perfect correct pushup form.
The decline pushup on the other hand is much more challenging than the incline, full, and modified pushups.
With a decline pushup, you raise your feet up off the ground so that they are resting on a stable surface like a bench.
There is more emphasis on your shoulders in this position, and you can expect to lift an impressive 75-80% of your body weight, so it’s the ideal variation for building strength in a bodyweight routine.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pushups
What percentage of your body weight do you lift in a push-up?
It’s widely believed that in the upper portion of a push-up you lift around 69% of your overall body weight, while at the bottom of the movement you are lifting 75%.
These figures can be taken with a grain of salt, but for the most part they’ll give you an accurate indication of how much of your weight you are lifting.
This information can be used to track your progress with pushups, especially if you’re someone who enjoys all the data surrounding working out and getting stronger.
Is doing a pushup the same as benching your weight?
No, while the pushup and the bench press are very similar movements that tackle more or less the same muscles, they aren’t exactly the same.
If you weigh 200lbs, then in theory every time you do a pushup you are lifting 138lbs at the top of the lift and 150lbs at the bottom – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can only bench press those weights.
This is because for the bench press you will be in a stabilized position on a bench, which should in theory make it easier to manage a heavier load.
How many push-ups a day is good?
The pushup is an excellent bodyweight move because you can essentially do as many of them as you want in a single day.
There really isn’t an upper limit for how many you should do, but of course, you need to make sure you get enough rest in between sets and workouts.
Generally-speaking, a number in the region of 50-100 is a great place to start if you’re relying on bodyweight movements to maintain or develop muscle mass.
A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle
The pushup is one of the best bodyweight movements around, and with all the variations available, it’s well worth getting familiar with.
During every standard pushup you will be lifting 69% and 75% of your bodyweight at the top and bottom parts of the movement, or 53% and 61% if you’re doing a modified pushup.