Pushups and pull-ups are two of the most popular bodyweight exercises. Find out whether getting good in one increases performance in the other.
First of all, pushups mainly work your chest, tricep, and front shoulder muscles.
On the flip side, pull-ups are an exercise that is challenging for your latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back), biceps, and potentially forearm grip muscles.
That means getting or being good at pushups does not help with pull-ups. The opposite applies too, pull-ups will not help with pushups.
Instead, some exercise alternatives that can help with getting better at pull-ups include assisted pull-ups, lat pulldowns, bent-over rows, etc.
What muscles pushups and pull-ups work
Whether pushups help with doing pull-ups or not is easily answered by taking a look at what muscles each exercise works.
In pushups, you mainly use your chest, triceps (back upper arms), and shoulder muscles.
The chest and shoulder muscles are responsible for pushing your upper arms down. At the same time, your triceps help extend/stretch your arms.
On the other side, pull-ups mainly work your latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back), biceps (front upper arms), and forearm grip muscles.
The latissimus dorsi muscles are responsible for pulling your upper arms down to your sides. At the same time, your biceps are helping you fold your arms and your forearm grip muscles hold the pull-up bar.
Can pushups help in doing pull-ups?
To get better at an exercise, you have to grow and strengthen the muscles involved in the movement (or improve technique). As mentioned above, pushups and pull-ups work completely different muscles.
That means pushups will not help you do more or heavier pull-ups. Even if you work up to 100 repetitions a day.
The opposite is also the case. Being good at doing pull-ups will not necessarily mean you can do a lot of pushups.
How do you build strength to do pull-ups?
Even if pushups do not help, you may still be interested in working up to your first few pull-ups and/or improving your performance in this exercise with other movements.
Some of the following exercises can help with pull-ups if you use the right load, do the right amounts of repetitions, eat the right nutrients, and give your body enough rest:
- Assisted pull-ups with bands or the dedicated machine
- Lat pulldowns
- Bent-over rows
- Straight arm pulldowns
- Other weighted row variations
These movements help you train your latissimus dorsi, biceps, forearm grip muscles, and often other muscles.
By training these body parts the right ways, you should be able to build enough strength to do pull-ups.
Are pull-ups harder than pushups?
Due to the relative strengths of the muscles you use and the percentage of your body weight you have to lift in each exercise, pull-ups are typically harder to do than pushups.
A good amount of people are not able to do one pull-up (yet), let alone 10. This makes it more of an intermediate to advanced resistance training exercise if you don’t have the assisted variations available.
There are also people who can’t do a full pushup but this number tends to be lower. Pushup progressions like knee pushups also tend to be easy to implement.