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How Much Weight Do You Actually Push Up During a Push-Up?

Chris has a Master's degree in engineering and uses his knowledge to write about a variety of topics from an analytical perspective.

How much weight are you lifting during a push-up?

How much weight are you lifting during a push-up?

I'm sure many of you fitness gurus out there have asked yourself this question after doing a few hundred push-ups. Us non-fitness gurus have had the same aching question for quite a while too. "How much weight did I just lift?" you might ask yourself after a good round of push-ups. Was it 90% of my body weight? No, maybe it was 50%? Well, in this article I will calculate the percentage of your body weight that you would expect to "push up" during both regular and inclined push-ups.

Proper Push-Ups

Before I begin with the math, let's define what a push-up is. More specifically, let's discuss proper form and technique. First, get onto the ground. Elevate your body using your arms. Your back must be straight like a board. Don't let your gluteus maximus stick into the air or hang low. There should be a 90-degree angle between your arms and the floor. Your hands should be placed about one and a half times your shoulder width apart and pointed parallel to your body. Your body should be raised on the balls of your feet. Your feet should also be touching or no more than shoulder width apart. When you go downward, only bend your elbows. You can come back up once the elbows break the plane of your back.

Good form is the key to your success and the validity of this calculation

Good form is the key to your success and the validity of this calculation

Mathematical Assumptions

I will calculate the percentage of body weight resisted during a push-up for an average sized person (I used Leonardo Da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" to properly scale the human structure because there was no other source of body measurements I could find). Since the resulting number will be a percentage, it will be correct for any person who has the same dimensions or ratio of dimensions as the average person calculated here. However, if you have abnormally short or long legs or arms compared to your height, the calculation will not necessarily be valid for you. For the purpose of the calculations, the center of gravity for a human is assumed to act through the hips.


The characteristics of an average 25-year-old American male are:

  • Height: 70 inches (1.778 m)
  • Palm to Shoulder length: 23 inches (0.5842 m)
  • Shoulder to Hip Length: 24.75 inches (0.62865 m)
  • Hip to Ankle Length: 31.5 inches (0.800 m)

For inclined push-ups, the following objects will be used for the calculations:

  • Standard Chair Height: 18 inches (0.457 m)
  • Standard Counter Top Height: 32 inches (0.813 m)

Method/Calculations

I will calculate the resultant forces in the hand (e.g. arms) of a human using the principles of engineering statics, Newton's Second Law of Motion, and the assumptions stated above.. The metric system will also be used to simplify the calculations.

Regular Push-Ups

Weight (W) is equal to the mass of an object multiplied by the acceleration of gravity.  We don't need to know the person's weight in this example because we are only computing a ratio (percentage)

Weight (W) is equal to the mass of an object multiplied by the acceleration of gravity. We don't need to know the person's weight in this example because we are only computing a ratio (percentage)

Using trigonometry, the angle between the floor and the plane of the back is 24.1218 degrees. The horizontal distance from the foot to the hip is 0.7301 meters and to the hand is 1.304 meters.

The forces in the Horizontal Direction are zero. Fx = 0

The sum of the forces in the vertical direction are: FY = FHand + FFoot - W = 0

The sum of the moments about the foot is MFoot = (0.730m)×W - (1.304m)×FHand = 0

Because we have cleverly chosen where to place our moment equation, it is the only one we need to solve to determine the force in your hand.

1.304FHand = 0.730W

Therefore, FHand = 0.5598W

Inclined Push-Ups on a Chair

Here, an inclined push-up is performed on a standard chair with a seat 18 inches above the ground.

The man's body is elevated on a chair that is 18" tall.

The man's body is elevated on a chair that is 18" tall.

Using trigonometry and the Pythagorean theorem, the horizontal distance from the feet to the hands is 1.475 meters. The angle between the plane of the back and the floor is 39.24 degrees. The horizontal distance from the feet to the hip is 0.620 meters.

The net force in the horizontal direction is zero: FX = 0

The sum of the forces in the vertical direction are: FY = FHand + FFoot - W = 0

The sum of the moments about the foot is MFoot = (0.620m)×W - (1.475m)×FHand = 0

Rearranging the last equation, we can relate the force in the hand to the weight:

1.475FHand = 0.620W

FHand = 0.420W

Therefore, the upward force in the hands is 42% of your body weight.

Inclined Push-Ups on a Countertop

Here, an inclined pushup is performed on a standard countertop with the work surface 32 inches above the ground.

A standard counter top is 32" above the ground. Try this inclined push-up position at home. You'll find that it is very easy compared to the regular push-up position.

A standard counter top is 32" above the ground. Try this inclined push-up position at home. You'll find that it is very easy compared to the regular push-up position.

Using trigonometry and the Pythagorean theorem, the horizontal distance from the feet to the hands is 1.311 meters. The angle between the plane of the back and the floor is 53.96 degrees. The horizontal distance from the feet to the hip is 0.470 meters.

The net force in the horizontal direction is zero: FX = 0

The sum of the forces in the vertical direction are: FY = FHand + FFoot - W = 0

The sum of the moments about the foot is MFoot = (0.470m)×W - (1.311m)×FHand = 0

Rearranging the last equation, we can relate the force in the hand to the weight:

1.311FHand = 0.470W

FHand = 0.360W

Therefore, the upward force in the hands is 36% of your body weight.

Conclusion

Based on these calculations, we can say when you are doing a push-up, you are "lifting" about 56% of your body weight (the other 44% is held up by your feet). In other words, for an average 200-pound person, doing one pushup is similar to (but not exactly the same as) doing one repetition on a bench press with about 112 pounds of weight. Now you know about how much weight your body is pushing up during this awesome exercise.

Additionally, we can definitely say that inclined push-ups require significantly less force to perform than a regular push-up. For an inclined push-up on a standard 18-inch high chair, you will lift about 42% of your body weight. For an inclined push-up with your hands placed on a standard 32-inch high countertop, it is estimated that you will lift roughly 36% of your body weight.

Verification of Results

To verify this calculation I weighed myself on a scale in both the regular and inclined push-up positions as well as the standing position. I did my best to measure the forces in my arms in the above configurations using a standard bathroom scale. It was actually pretty hard to capture the measurements with the scale on the countertop because it kept trying to slide away from me, but I eventually got it (and a good abdominal workout too!). The table below summarizes my measurements and the calculations.

 Weight (Standing)Weight (Push-Up)Measured RatioCalculated Ratio

 

(lbs)

(lbs)

(%)

(%)

Regular

211

125

59%

56%

Incline 18"

211

100

47%

42%

Incline 32"

211

80

38%

36%


Here is a Graph to help you visualize and compare the results of the calculations versus the measured values.


It's interesting to note that the relationship between inclination and body weight percentage is nearly linear.

It's interesting to note that the relationship between inclination and body weight percentage is nearly linear.

Based on the verification measurements, I would say that the results are a good representation of what you would expect to see in real life.

These calculations also agree with the currently published research on the matter which says that anywhere from 50 to 75% of your body weight is lifted during a standard push-up. Since everyone's body shape and weight distribution differs, the actual percentage of your weight that you lift during a push-up will vary.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

some other guy on the internet on January 13, 2020:

Brian. The relationship is monogamous.

Brian Parsons on November 20, 2019:

can you determine the relationship between an incline bench press

and a regular pushup?

some guy on the internet on October 23, 2019:

I think this is correct because I can bench 5x5 135lbs and my weight is 155 lbs. My push up is around 85lbs if it's 55% of my weight, and I can do weighted push ups with +45lbs 5x5 but not more. That's about 133lbs. So this does make sense to me I don't think it's 70% as most people say.

Not telling on February 17, 2018:

Unfortunately there are some mistakes in the calculations. As mentioned below 1.475 is not correct. Also and more significantly, the angle of the arms is not accounted for. An incline push up with vertical arms is no easier than a regular push up. An incline push up with arms perpendicular to the body is easier. In the latter case, the maths is easier by just looking at the moments about the feet along the length of the body and resolving W to perpendicular to the body. Instinctively one full extension of vertical arms raise the CofG by the same amount regardless of incline, if the arms are perpendicular to the body, then a full extension of the arms raises the CofG by a lesser amount, which is why it's easier in this case.

Hunter on October 28, 2017:

What about a handstand pushup?

JIM7 on August 11, 2017:

INTERESTING -- IM 65 WITH LIFELONG BLOOD PRESSURE ISSUES - BASICALLY MEANS I CAN'T GET TOO EXCITED ABOUT MAXING OUT REP WISE OR STRAIN A GUT USING HEAVY WEIGHTS -- HAVE DONE PUSHUPS FOR YEARS THOUGH - WARM UP TREADMILL -- 7-8 PUSHUPS WITH 4 POUNDS -- BACK ON TREADMILL WIDE & NARROW STANCE - NO DIAMONDS - KILL THE ELBOWS -- DO A TOTAL OF 6-8 SETS -- I'M NO BEAST -- BUT PLENTY STRONG FOR ALL PRACTICAL PURPOSES -- PUSHUPS ARE THE BOMB - EVERY OTHER DAY

Anon-y-mouse on August 09, 2017:

How did you get the 1.475m to the hand? Shouldn't that be 1.22?

Also in the incline pushup, as the arms are not vertical, the Fhand should be resolved up the arm to get force experienced by the person.

Bob on June 30, 2017:

I got 70%

R Williams on January 27, 2017:

Nice theories and whatever but the easiest way to measure this is to simply place your hands on a scale while doing a pushup. For me the result = 77% of my body weight.

Robert Morgan from Hutchinson Island, FL - Myrtle Beach, SC - Gilbert AZ on July 22, 2015:

Great article. I knew the angle made a difference, but did not understand the math. Thanks for your explanations.

TheBizWhiz on June 23, 2015:

Awesome Hub. Math usually puts me to sleep, but when it is applied to a subject I am interested in, it makes it makes a difference. Great job!

plopperzz on May 20, 2015:

I must say, you made some assumptions that quite drastically change the value of the force on the hands. The arms on average are about 6% of your body weight, and while you aren't lifting your arms too terribly much, they shift the center of mass of the entire system which changes the force on the hands to be around 75% of your body weight at the top of the pushup.

Mazen on November 23, 2014:

In the incline pushup on countertop, what assumptions did you make on the body position? A person can do such a push up with different angles (between arms and the countertop)... that will change the calculation. Perhaps you can provide some input on the calculations?

Thanks a lot.

Steel Engineer from Kiev, Ukraine on November 23, 2014:

According to Marine Corps philosophy, you actually push up the earth. The Marine is in control and alters events around him. Oorah!

Jimmy on November 16, 2014:

Excellent article. I've incorporated the plank also into my press-ups. Tough but good.

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on November 04, 2014:

Jay - that's awesome! Keep up the good work.

Jay on November 04, 2014:

I will admit to being terribly out of shape. But about 6 or 8 months ago, I started doing counter pushups while my coffee is brewing at work. I'm up to 50 two or three times a day, and recently started adding 15 windmills also. I'm 5'10 and about 255 or 260. I can say may arms are definitely solid now.

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on June 05, 2014:

Frienderal - Agreed! Pushups are my favorite exercise that requires no equipment to complete.

Frienderal from Singapore on June 05, 2014:

An interesting hub! Push-ups are definitely the most convenient and cheapest way to get a good work-out to our core muscles! :)

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on March 23, 2014:

MarkG - the weight of your head is implicitly included in the calulations already.

MarkG on March 23, 2014:

I agree with the overall method used for your calculations, however one important detail has been omitted.

Your calculations are perfect for a headless human.

When you do a pushup, you are also lifting your head and this needs to be factored into the calculation.

Sarah Forester from Australia on February 06, 2014:

Wow now this is an interesting idea for a Hub. Extremely interesting answer to an age old question.

Nikolic Predrag from Serbia, Belgrade on February 05, 2014:

Honestly, I never thought about it. I learned something new. Hub is well documented and with good graphics. Thanks for the great hub!!

Steel Engineer from Kiev, Ukraine on January 05, 2014:

I like that you adjusted for the higher center of gravity of males. For women, these proportions will be slightly less.

Hezekiah from Japan on December 02, 2013:

Nice technical info there, good to know that. I always wondered what kind of weight I was pushing in a push up.

Dennis Bwesole from United States on December 02, 2013:

Thanks for sharing and great images too. Push ups are a great work out for your core and there are other tips for a flatter stomach here http://www.growtallerwithshinlengthening.com/flats...

youssef on December 02, 2013:

i do 70 pushup in one serie

Levy Tate from California, USA on December 02, 2013:

What an informative hub! Thanks for sharing, pal. Voted up :)

Alfin Loencontre on November 06, 2013:

Very good article, I had never asked that question.

And much less know the answer.

Thank you.

Samita Sharma from Chandigarh on October 15, 2013:

Well done my friend; great message for millions of people. :)

Insane Mundane from Earth on September 20, 2013:

@Ender: Your ass must have been really high in the air, seriously...

Ender on September 20, 2013:

I don't know about all that. How do you explain the fact that I weigh about 185 pounds and did pushups with my hands resting on a scale and it read 135-140 pounds during the pushups? That's more like 75% of my body weight.

Oleg on August 23, 2013:

Im fairly unfit and decedid to change my habits. I can get through only one set and feel like dying in a good way. so ill do one set a day until i can get up 2 sets then do that every second day. Ive never sweated from any other cardio or weight session. even my eyes are sore ahahaha

Insane Mundane from Earth on August 15, 2013:

Okay, after reading some of the comments, I think I'm going back to free weights... Less questions that way... LOL!

@Bob: Weighted vests are excellent additives to any body-weight exercise, as I have a couple different weighted vests myself that I use for dips, pull-ups, push-ups, etc.. Since they are attached to your upper body, it is not that hard to calculate the amount of weight to the existing percentage of body weight being applied during your routines. If you are really curious, just go buy a cheap set of free weights. Other than that, you will never know your true "max out" weight that you can lift; simple as that...

Pierre on August 15, 2013:

This is a great workout and much hdearr than anticipated, especially if you're over 210lbs! I adapted it in a couple of ways. Try plyometric lunges instead of walking lunges (x20) although these stress the performance of the wall squats quite dramatically. And after x3 through why not do a half-set instead of extra cardio?

Bob on August 11, 2013:

hmmm... be interested to know about the body weight percentage of a decline pushup on a chair with a 25kg (55pound) backpack (im 70kg btw or 156 pounds)

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on July 25, 2013:

Insane Mundane - haha it sure is! Not much trigonometry to remember.

Insane Mundane from Earth on July 25, 2013:

The math is much easier for the vertical and/or handstand push-ups; ha!

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on July 12, 2013:

Thanks Stan. I enjoy pushups and love working out in general too. Combine this with my natural curiosity and I just had to find out how much I was lifting. Thanks for reading.

Stan Murphy from Kansas on July 12, 2013:

Wow! You really thought outside-the-box on this one! I have done countless push-ups and the amount of weight I am lifting never crossed my mind; just knew it was a great exercise. This really got me thinking. Thank you!

addiskr on July 04, 2013:

Exercise is great, check this out i just created a link check it out tell me what you think a free CD http://bevsboutique.findagooddeal.info/

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on April 29, 2013:

SidKemp - Thanks for reading. I often try to verify my calculations by an experiment of some kind. It helps add to the authenticity of the hub (and it's fun too!)

Sid Kemp from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) on April 29, 2013:

Thanks for taking the time to think this through and share your results. I particularly like that you tested the results with a bathroom scale - as I was reading, I was waiting for that. Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on March 06, 2013:

I do 100 inclined push-ups a day. It's a fantastic stress reliever and all over body workout. I had no idea I was lifting 36% - 42% of my body weight! Now I understand why I ache so much!! Ha!! Thanks for the great hub!!

ketage from Croatia on March 06, 2013:

I have always wondered but could never figure out how to count it out, my guess would have been 50%, but that would have been a number I pulled out of my hat. Great Visual aids.

Andy Little from Richardson, TX on March 06, 2013:

Thanks! I've often wondered how much weight I was pressing when doing pushups but never took the time to do the research. Your hub and its comments consolidated my research efforts.

P on February 01, 2013:

nice article nonetheless

P on February 01, 2013:

A better way of find the actual force applied through the movement would be to start from an energy conservation standpoint. Take the initial energy of the system as the potential energy at the relative midpoint of the body. Then equate this value to the work done through the movement. The work is a function of r cross f , use a double integral for the varying theta and varying force. Solve and plot to get a varying force distribution with theta. If someone is bored and wants to MATLAB this go ahead. Alternatively you can solve for the limits of the force at the top and bottom of the movment.by assuming we take you're distrbution value of the hands at the top as a starting point we can solve for the force application on the bottom. But this method is more crude.

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on February 01, 2013:

P - yes this is an analysis of a static system. Movement would cause a change in the magnitude of the forces. To solve that numerically would require a complex dynamic analysis. This is beyond the scope of this article.

P on February 01, 2013:

You calculation essentially boils down to the ratio of l/h (hip to ankle distance over shoulder to ankel distance) to determine the percentage of the load that is applied on the hands. However this simpy shows the distribution of the weight from the hands and feet at the top holding position. If you take the results to its limits then you'll find it gives no actual indication of the amount of work applied by the hands ( even if we completely disregard the biomechanics of the pushup motion itself). For example if a person has relative long arms for his given height, this will increase his shoulder to ankle distance(the hypoteneus of the triangle) for a constant horizontal distance between the hands and feet on the ground. By your result the force distribution on the hands will be smaller since the l is kept constant while the h increases. This simply means that at a more elevated position a greater portion of the person's weight is supported at the feet( which makes perfect intuitive sense). Like wise for a person with shorter arms the hypotenues has to shrink for a constant hand to feet distance. the ratio of l/h is now larger since h*( in the denominator) is now smaller. Therefore this analysis merely shows a force distribution of a person's weight at the top of the pushup motion but can't really be credited to give any indication of the load or force application in the movement itself.

Or just do a press up on a bathroom scale. lol on January 18, 2013:

Bathroom scale

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on December 27, 2012:

Gambit Joe - Sounds like a good idea. Perhaps I will calculate that in the future too.

Gambit Joe on December 27, 2012:

What about push-ups on your knees? Any math wiz want to calculate?

Mount Vernon Lodge #64 from Norwalk, Ohio on December 13, 2012:

Very fun hub. I generally do regular or decline where I put my feet on a chair or bench. I have asked this question before and it is nice to see someone answering it. Thanks.

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on December 09, 2012:

jravity1 - Thanks! This was a fun one to write.

jravity1 from bellevue, MI on December 09, 2012:

Nicely done

TThomasson from United Kingdom on November 29, 2012:

Great article, I have recently perfected my push-up and really enjoy doing them.

Tom Foldey on September 26, 2012:

I'm also interested in the decline push BW% ! Love the exercise math though thanks :)

GoldenThreadPress on September 20, 2012:

Very informative @HubPages! Well documented and love the graphics. Super job!

fituniversity from Fort Worth TX on September 18, 2012:

Great article! Well done.

C X E on September 06, 2012:

Looking back on previous comments it looks like my question was answered after all. However, the theoretical equation doesn't take in2 count a changing theta!! hmm this would also mean a changing force throughout the push up ae. As you get closer to the floor during th PU, theta gets smaller hence Fw on arms gets larger (well that's what it feels like..). For this reason, comparing the weight you push in a pushup should not be closely compared to other things that have a fixed weight like dun bells etc. Plz correct me if i'm wrong for i'm not certain if what I said is true.

C X E on September 06, 2012:

DW team, I got it. Simple year 9 trig. All you need to do is reverse the diagram, making theta larger and hence the Fw on the hand becomes larger as well. Good effort guys nd gals!!

C X E on September 06, 2012:

What about doing pu with your feet on something elevated?

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on August 28, 2012:

Doing pushups with feet on a countertop should be harder than regular pushups because you "lifting" a larger percentage of your body weight. However, the higher your feet are the more your shoulder's play a role performing the exercise - this could make the exercise seem easier depending on how strong your shoulders are in comparison to your chest and triceps.

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on August 28, 2012:

Kris - In that position the weight that you are pushing up increases. One day when I have more time I will update this article to include decline pushups. Thanks for reading.

Kris on August 28, 2012:

I, asked that in a hurry. jajaja, well at work a friend did 15 regular push ups, he is about 150lbs, im 215lbs and did 35 push ups, inclined. My push ups , i had my feet up in the counter about 3 feet high. They said i did more because its way easy to do them the way i did. Is that True?

Kris on August 28, 2012:

how about, if legs are up in counter and the hands on the floor??

logic on June 28, 2012:

do a push up on a beam scale

Adam on June 20, 2012:

I must say the math is very impressive. Good job

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on June 10, 2012:

V-Dub - Yes It sounds like you probably did it right. Your body shape is probably very different from what I used in this analysis.

V-Dub on June 10, 2012:

I actually used a weighing scale to measure the weight I exerted on the scale when I was in the up position and down position of a pushup and found out that I was using 75% of my body weight in the up position and around 80% in the down position! Not sure if this is accurate since it only measures the force exerted by my hands and not feet but maybe since the arms are the ones doing the movement maybe it's right

Michael Lo on May 11, 2012:

OMW, you finally just answered my question!!! I'm Chinese and I have abnormally long arms, and I have always wanted to know whether it would make a difference!!! TYSM!!!

conqueranycourse from New York City on January 31, 2012:

hahaha...My may doing push-up is wrong.. Thanks for this

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on January 20, 2012:

Most definitely elevating your feet makes the weight increase. Someday I will get around to updating this hub to include those kind of pushups too.

Larry Fields from Northern California on January 20, 2012:

thejovial wrote:

"What happens when you elevate your feet? I know that my workouts get tougher. How does this apply in that case? Does the weight increase?"

My guess is that the answer to your question is yes. Let's look at the boundary condition, where you're upside down, and your feet are directly over your head. The feet are not holding up any of the body's weight, and all of it is supported by the palms of your hands. Assuming that you have excellent balance, these handstand push-ups are really tough!

However the fraction of your body weight that's supported by the hands would decrease as you lowered your feet, and transferred some of the weight 'downstairs'.

One non-obvious factor that may increase the difficulty of elevated-feet-push-ups is that the relatively strong pectoral muscles are used a bit less, and the relatively weak front deltoids (shoulder muscles) come into play.

billiebender from Washington, DC on January 20, 2012:

Awesome post, I've always wondered about this too.

Amanda Zahorik from Philadelphia, PA on January 11, 2012:

Great hub. I've always wondered this myself, since I often find myself on the road and switching to push-ups instead of bench presses to stay in shape. The number sounds about right intuitively in spite of differences in form, as well, since I'm doing about as many push-ups as I could do bench press reps at 50%-60% of my bodyweight.

I'd be curious to know how much weight gets added to the mix with decline push-ups, though.

thejovial from United States on September 01, 2011:

What happens when you elevate your feet? I know that my workouts get tougher. How does this apply in that case? Does the weight increase?

epatera from Nebraska on August 30, 2011:

Now I know why push ups are so hard!

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on July 06, 2011:

Haha pizza sounds good. I weighed myself to see what the result would be and I got 58%. This is very close to Larry Field's estimate of 60%. More detailed information about this is in the article.

Daniel C. Metz from Seattle on July 06, 2011:

Interesting! I've always wondered

Blake Atkinson from Kentucky on July 06, 2011:

Well done, I've never seen anything on this before! You've almost inspired me to do a pushup. Well then again I could keep wasting time on hubpages. And my pizza looks good too.

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on July 06, 2011:

Yeah, i've made a lot of assumptions for this calculation. Note that during the pushup motion, your weight distribution will change. The closer to horizontal your body is, the closer to 50% the estimate becomes. Of course, if you have abnormally long arms for your body, you may be lifting more than 56% of your weight.

In this example I assumed that all of your weight acts through your hips. Ideally, I would have calculated this using a series of distributed forces to represent a 'true' distribution of ones body weight. However, I could not locate any detailed information on a person's weight distribution.

And yes, a pushup is not exactly the same as a bench press. Depending on your technique and position, you could utilize different muscles during the exercise.

Richard J ONeill from Bangkok, Thailand on July 06, 2011:

Thank you for that informative piece there, Cwanamaker.

I do pushups as often as possible and it is useful to know just how much of my body weight I am lifting while doing so. It is also a useful bit of info to impress my pushup doing buddies with!! :)

Take care. Rich :)

Larry Fields from Northern California on July 06, 2011:

Interesting. Before reading your hub, my WAG (wild-assed guess) would have been 60% of body weight.

Here's the first fly in the ointment. The 56% figure is a good first approximation, assuming that the arms have negligible weight.

Your hands, which contain a small proportion of your total body weight, don't move at all during the PU. And the vertical component of your forearms' motion is almost negligible. And the center-of-mass of your upper arms is 'lifted' by approximately half of the elbow-shoulder distance. Therefore the 56% of body weight is an upper limit.

Second, the PU shown in the diagram is not really equivalent to a bench press. In the latter, your grip on the barbell guarantees that the relatively powerful pectoral muscles make a big part of the total effort.

On the other hand, PUs in which the hands are initially close to the torso (as shown in the diagram), recruit the front deltoids more, and place less emphasis on the pecs.

Anyway, voted up, and with some extra chutzpah points for pushing the envelope of your comfort zone.

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