Pushups are one of the most popular bodyweight resistance exercises. There are a variety of interesting statistics and facts about this option.
To do a pushup you start in a high plank position, lower your straight body by folding your arms, and raise it up again. Below you can find some of the most popular findings and statistics about pushups and where this data comes from.
Keep in mind that the figures below are often estimations from smaller studies, data sets, and surveys. These things generally come with a lot of biases, suboptimal sample selection, and measurement errors.
In reality, some numbers will likely vary for the overall population, sometimes by a lot. When it comes to records, keep in mind that comparing yourself to your performance of yesterday is generally more productive.
1. How many pushups should you be able to do
Something else many people wonder about is how many bodyweight pushups they should be able to do for their gender, weight, age, and skill level.
The statistics about this are not the most exact but there are a few ways to get a better idea.
The website strength level has a pushup standards calculator. This compares your pushup performance to 956,000 lifts by users at the time of writing.
For example, to perform better than 50% of the 170-pound (77.1 kg) males, you would have to do more than 40 pushups. To perform better than 50% of the 150-pound (68 kg) females, you would have to do more than 17 pushups.
They also offer numbers for a variety of bodyweights and other percentiles like 5th, 20th, 80th, and 95th.
One thing to keep in mind is that this database (very likely) compares you to more experienced weight lifters. Compared to the average person you would have to do a lot fewer pushups.
There are also other charts with how many pushups you should be able to do but these are often made in a subjective way.
Younger individuals who want to get a better idea of how they compare to their own age can check the pushup statistics of The Presidential Physical Fitness Test.
2. Popularity of pushups
Pushups are a relatively popular type of bodyweight exercise but they are not the only option. You may wonder how this exercise compares in popularity to some of the other typical options.
Google Trends is a tool that shows you how much interest in certain search terms evolves over time for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular.
Below you can find a worldwide search volume comparison from 2004-2021 between “push ups”, “pull ups”, “sit ups”, “squats”, and “crunches”.
While not the number 1, pushups are definitely one of the more popular bodyweight exercises. Especially with many gyms closed, pushups really rose in popularity.
On January the 18th, 2022 we even conducted a quick 24-hour poll on our own Instagram page with the question “Have you done pushup(s) in the last 4 weeks?” that could be answered with “Yes” or “No”.
154 people responded to this poll. 37% of these people answered yes, 63% of these people answered no.
3. Pushup world records
After learning the more standard pushup numbers it becomes easier to respect the tremendous performances of some of the pushup world records.
First of all, there are the records for the most consecutive pushups. For men, this was 10,507 pushups achieved by Minoru Yoshida in 1980 (1). For women, this was 808 pushups achieved by Mia Hepburn in 2017 (1).
Additionally, there are a few records when it comes to the maximum number of pushups in a certain time frame. When there was no mention of regular pushups, the knuckle pushup record is displayed. Some of the records include (2):
|Time Limit||Record For Men||Record For Women|
|1 Minute||113 (Knuckle) Pushups||70 (Knuckle) Pushups|
|3 Minutes||192 (Knuckle) Pushups||No Record Noted|
|1 Hour||3,054 Pushups||1,206 (Knuckle) Pushups|
|12 Hours||19,325 Pushups||No Record Noted|
|24 Hours||46,001 Pushups||9,241 (Knuckle) Pushups|
Additionally, there are a wide collection of pushup variation world records.
4. Weighted pushup standards
For many individuals, a bodyweight pushup is not challenging enough. If that is the case you can do weighted pushups. This is the same exercise but with extra pushup equipment so you have to push more weight.
When it comes to the “standard” amount of weight for a weighted pushup, the website strength level again offers some statistics. In their pushup standards calculator you can also show the one-rep max option.
This shows how much extra weight people can carry during 1 repetition of a pushup.
For example, to perform better than 50% of the 170-pound (77.1 kg) males, you would have to do be able to do a pushup with 222 extra pounds (100.7 kg).
To perform better than 50% of the 150-pound (68 kg) females, you would have to do be able to do a pushup with 84 extra pounds (38 kg).
You can also see the weighted pushup standards for a variety of bodyweights and other percentiles like 5th, 20th, 80th, and 95th. Again, the individuals in this database are very likely more active than the average person.
5. Wide vs narrow grip pushups
One of the interesting things about pushups is that there are so many different ways to do them. One aspect you can change up is the stance of your hands. This may seem like a small difference but it does influence a few things.
The first area where wide and narrow grip pushups differ is the muscles they focus on. During narrow grip pushups, your tricep muscles tend to be the ones that fatigue first.
During wide grip pushups, this muscle fatigue is more distributed over your tricep, chest, and shoulder muscles. Narrow grip pushups tend to be harder because of this.
Next, wide grip pushups make it easier to hold your upper arms at an angle that is suboptimal for shoulder health. On the flip side, narrow grip pushups tend to be harder on your wrists.
How narrow or how wide you should hold your hands ultimately depends on things like workout goals, personal preference, injury risk, etc.
6. Possible indication of future cardiovascular health
Pushups can benefit your health but how many repetitions you can do of this exercise could be a good indication of future cardiovascular health.
One study looked at the pushup capacity of 1104 occupationally active adult men and incident cardiovascular disease risk across 10 years of follow-up.
Their data suggests that the participants who were able to do more than 40 pushups were associated with a significant reduction in incident cardiovascular disease event risk compared to individuals who could do fewer than 10 push-ups (3).
Something to note is that pushups are likely not the only exercise this applies to.
Since working out in general is so beneficial for health and more specifically cardiovascular health, you can likely find the same correlation for performance in other exercises.
Even if that is the case, it is interesting that this study was able to investigate this pushup statistic.
7. Incline vs decline pushups
Another way to change up your regular pushups is by either elevating your hands, named incline pushups, or elevating your feet, named decline pushups. Similar to other pushup variations this leads to some differences.
First of all, due to the angle, less of your body weight rests on your arms during incline pushups. This makes the pushup easier. Additionally, the more incline you go, the more the exercise focuses on your lower chest and triceps.
On the other hand, decline pushups are harder for your chest, shoulder, and tricep muscles since more of your body weight rests on these.
Decline pushups also focus more on your upper chest and shoulder muscles the more decline you go.
Whether you should choose incline or decline pushups depends on a variety of factors like training goals, personal preference, skill level, etc.
8. Percentage of total body weight supported
As you can see from the incline vs decline pushup facts, not all of your body weight rests on your arms when doing a pushup. One study set out to measure exactly what percentage of your body weight is supported during pushups.
They measured that on average participants supported 69.16% of their body mass in the up position and 75.04% in the down position (4).
Additionally, they measured the same thing for modified pushups, pushups with the knees on the ground.
For this variation, they measured that participants supported on average 53.56% of their body mass in the up position and 61.8% in the down position.
Most people already know modified pushups are more beginner-friendly than the regular version without these statistics. Even so, it is interesting to see the specific ratios.
9. Health benefits pushups
While enjoyment and looking more muscular are also reasons, many people also do pushups because of all the health benefits this offers. This goes from more muscle mass to stronger bones to improved cognitive function, etc.
Another popular reason is that doing pushups can help you lose weight.
10 minutes of pushups at a vigorous pace can help you burn around 59-102+ calories depending on your weight, intensity, and much more.
If you want to learn how to burn more calories while doing pushups, make sure you read the article on how many calories pushups burn.
10. Pushups vs bench press
The bench press is a pushup alternative that comes down to lying down on a weight bench and pushing a weight up and away from you. As you may notice this movement is very similar to pushups but upside down.
That does not mean these exercises are equally useful in all situations. Each one has its upsides and downsides.
The most straightforward difference is that in essence pushups do not require any equipment. To do a bench press you need a weight bench and some form of resistance. These require a budget and storage room.
Next, while these two exercises target mainly the same muscles, they are not entirely the same. During pushups you will have to use your core muscles a good amount to keep your body straight. This is not the case during the bench press.
One study also compared the EMG activation of the most important muscles in pushups vs bench presses. They observed that during the concentric phase (folding arms) of the pushup, tricep and biceps brachii activation was lower (5).
Additionally, during the eccentric phase (stretching arms) of the bench press, anterior deltoid (front part of the main shoulder muscle) activation was less.
Lastly, to keep seeing muscle growth and strength progress you want to increase the resistance of the exercise as you get stronger. You can do weighted pushups but heavy weights are generally easier to use when doing bench presses.