How Many Push-Ups Can You Do?

This simple exercise has enough variety to activate several different muscle groups
By Mohan Garikiparithi
Mohan Garikiparithi
Mohan Garikiparithi
September 16, 2019 Updated: May 16, 2020

If you’re interested in stronger muscles, better cardiovascular health, and improved body composition, you may not have to look much further than the floor.

How many push-ups you could do used to be more about bragging rights than health benefits, but push-ups have a lot to say a lot about your health. Including them into your daily routine, or at least performing them multiple times per week, may lead to worthwhile health improvements and a better quality of life.

Push-ups can be great for upper body strength. They do a terrific job activating chest, shoulder, and arm muscles while providing decent engagement through the core and legs. Research has shown doing regular push-ups can improve muscle mass and strength, as well as potentially reduce the risk for a cardiovascular-related event. Push-ups also help protect joints by strengthening the tissue surrounding the shoulder and elbow joints to minimize the potential of pain and increase capability and mobility.

There are a few different variations of push-ups to perform, and each has been studied and proven to offer unique benefits. They are:

  • Standard Pushup (SP): Hands are shoulder-width apart and directly in line with shoulders. Upper body lines up with legs, the body remains rigid throughout the movement.
  • Wide Pushup (WP): Distance between hands moves wider than shoulder-width (totaling about twice the total distance).
  • Narrow Pushup (NP): Place hands below the center of the breastbone (sternum) with the thumb and forefinger touching, making a triangle. This variety provides the greatest activation of the triceps and chest muscles.
  • Forward Pushup (FP): The hands are shoulder-width apart, but roughly 20 centimeters in front of the shoulders. These, along with BP (below), provide proper activation of the back and core.
  • Backward Pushup (BP): Hands are shoulder-width apart, but roughly 20 centimeters behind shoulders. This type of push-up activates the most muscle groups of all forms.

To take advantage of the benefits of pushups, start incorporating them into your day. Progress gradually to avoid injury, and avoid doing too many, too soon. Move in a slow controlled fashion from start to finish. As you get stronger, you’ll be able to do more. Once you can do 40, you may notice the cardiovascular benefits.

Mohan Garikiparithi holds a degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade. During a three-year communications program in Germany, he developed an interest in German medicine (homeopathy) and other alternative systems of medicine. This article was originally published on Bel Marra Health.

Mohan Garikiparithi
Mohan Garikiparithi