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How Much Weight Are You Using With Push Ups?

Push ups are awesome. With no equipment and at a moments notice you can hit the deck and chisel up your chest, arms, shoulders and even back by punching out a few sets and going to rep failure. Of course, if you’re doing P90X or Insanity, push ups are a way of life and whether wide, military, triceps or diamond, punching them out is a as routine as brushing your teeth (you do brush, right?).

So, I covered the ins and outs of how to get the best push up results possible here but when it’s all said and done, we know how much we’re curling, pressing, extension-ing and squatting… so how does that translate into push ups? How much weight are YOU actually pushing when you’re doling out pushups like it’s nobody’s business?

Push Ups- What You’re Actually “Pushing”

Thanks to a few 2011 published research articles in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and pal/P90X Cert Master Trainer and all around cool gal Joanna Schafhausen who brought this to my attention, we have a pretty good idea… and it may be more than you think. After all, you’re not “just” doing a pushup. You’re lifting a percentage of your body weight and that can be quite whether you’re at your goal weight or far from it.

The research was done on about 24 men but while there is some difference in weight between what men and women lift with a push up, it’s not much and so close to the same ballpark, we’ll use these general numbers for all.

So here it is– when you’re doing a Standard Push Up (on toes), you’re pushing about 66-70% of your total body weight. If you’re modifying and going to your knees (in which there is no shame!) you’re at roughly 53%.

Push Up Weight By Weight With 10 Lb. Variance

Ok, so we’ve got the numbers but I’m here to make your life easier. Here’s how that breaks down by weight starting at 250 lbs. and moving down to 120 using 67% standard and 53% kneeling (modified) as the baseline:

250 lbs

Standard: 168 lbs.

Knee: 132 lbs.

240 lbs

Standard: 161 lbs.

Knee: 127 lbs.

230 lbs

Standard: 154 lbs.

Knee:  122 lbs.

220 lbs

Standard: 147 lbs.

Knee: 117 lbs.

210 lbs

Standard: 141 lbs.

Knee: 111 lbs.

200 lbs

Standard: 134 lbs.

Knee: 106 lbs.

190 lbs

Standard: 127 lbs.

Knee:  100 lbs.

180 lbs

Standard: 120 lbs

Knee: 95 lbs.

170 lbs

Standard:  114 lbs.

Knee: 90 lbs.

160 lbs

Standard: 107 lbs.

Knee: 85 lbs.

150 lbs

Standard: 101 lbs.

Knee: 80 lbs.

140 lbs

Standard: 94 lbs.

Knee: 74 lbs.

130 lbs

Standard: 87 lbs.

Knee:  70 lbs.

120 lbs

Standard: 80 lbs.

Knee: 64 lbs.

If you’d like to figure out your push up weight to your current weight exactly, you can simply multiply .67 by your weight. Joanna also suggests putting a scale on the ground and doing a pushup with the scale under your hands. Insta-weight feedback!

Keep Your Push Ups “Heavy” With Added Load Intensity

A quick review of the chart above shows, obviously, the less you weigh the less weight you’re using. There’s a few ways to compensate for this–you use a weighted vest or backpack (or small child/ animal?). You can also slow your pushups way down using a 2-2 (1-2 down… 1-2 up) or 3-3 (1-2-3 down, 1-2-3 up) count… maybe even a 3-1 count (1-2-3 down, explosive 1-count up)  just to keep things interesting.

Need help nailing your pushups, amping your motivation and staying on track? That’s what I’m here for. Get a hold of me at or make me your official, free Beachbody Coach right here.


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