Do Push Ups Build Muscle Mass? Or Do They Just Tone?
When looking to build muscle you could be forgiven for thinking that the only way is by weight training.
Now, I would partly agree with you…I think weight training is the best way to see big gains in both muscle size and strength, however…
…the humble push up can, if performed correctly, be a great muscle and strength builder. In fact, if you’re unable to get to the gym, or find yourself stranded in a gym-less hotel room (or desert island), the push up will soon become your new best friend.
Here I’m going to show you a few simple tips to getting the most out of your push up routine and ensure that you can see some great muscle and strength gains, so you can know categorically do push ups build muscle or not.
In order to build muscle up, our bodies need to come up against increasing levels of resistance. This means that over time we are able to lift heavier and heavier loads. Without an increase in resistance our bodies just simply will not continue to develop strength and muscle…why should they?
This is usually the biggest reason why many folks think the push up is not a good method for building muscle…after all, you’re just lifting your body weight every rep.
The key to overcoming this obstacle is to consider adding some weights to a back pack or investing in a weighted vest when you are doing your push ups, and gradually increase this weight over time. This will make sure that your push ups build muscle.
Increasing the number of repetitions is a great way to improve the muscular endurance while still seeing muscle and strength gains. The number is pretty limitless…just make sure you are gradually increasing it over time.
A few years back I started off doing 100 push ups a day and gradually worked up to doing 1,800 per day. Now, that took me nearly 2 years to get to that level but it proved to me that it can definitely be done.
Varying the position of your body in your push up routine achieves two objectives:
- You work different muscle groups
- You increase your range of motion, creating stronger more functional muscles
Varying the hand positions from close to wide stance will work different area of the pecs, triceps, shoulders and back. Likewise inclining your feet by resting them on the side of your bed or a chair will work your upper pecs.
Whatever you do make sure you vary up the positions to get a complete upper body workout from your push ups. I recommend performing different positions per set in your workout…
…for instance, let’s say that you want to perform 50 push ups. You could perform 20 normal ones, 10 wide stance, 10 close stance, and 10 with your feet inclined.
Vary The Timing
Another great way I found to get the most out of your push up routine is to vary the timing.
Instead of doing the usual boring up, down, up, down at the same constant pace, I found that I saw much better muscle and strength gains by performing some quickly and some very slowly.
So I would perform one set at normal pace, one set at a fast pace, and one set at a very slow pace (holding for 5 seconds in the down position). This makes your muscles work in a variety of ways as well as giving them an exhausting workout.
Is It Worth Doing Push Ups?
If you’re already in the middle of a weight training routine, then I’d recommend adding in a few push up routines here and there to supplement your training. Don’t perform them on your rest days though, as this could jeopardize your recovery time.
If you’re not currently performing a weight training routine or can’t get access to any gym equipment, then I would highly recommend that you begin a push up routine. If you’re new, start small and build from there. The key is to consistently aim to improve and do more than the last time.
How Many Push Ups Should You Do To Build Muscle?
There is no hard and fast rule to this since each person is different and can have drastically different fitness levels.
Basically you want to do the number of push ups that you find difficult…in other words the number of consecutive repetitions until you struggle to perform another with good form. If that’s 5, then aim to do 6 next time; if it’s 100, then aim to do 105 next time. The daily numbers are not particularly relevant, just so long as you are pushing yourself then you will see results.
It’s best to do a few sets per workout…this helps you to condition your body faster as well as give you the opportunity to mix up your positions a little, as I mentioned above.
There is a great website that I came across which gives you a free workout to help you get up to doing 100 push ups a day. It’s all broken down into printable work sheets so you can keep track of your progress and follow along. Check it out here ==> 100 Push Ups A Day
There’s also a book available from the same guy who set up the website and it goes into more detail with more variations and advanced topics. You can get it on Amazon here ==> 100 Push Ups A Day book
Once you’ve got the hang of it all and want to try something really advanced, then you can try some of these ultra-difficult variations on this Wikipedia article ==> Press Up Variations
Push ups are a great way to build muscle and increase strength, so add them to your workout today. You’ll get the maximum benefit out of your push up routine by making sure that you follow a solid eating and nutrition plan too, since without this, any kind of muscle gain is going to be difficult whether you’re weight training or doing push ups.
Discover the program that gave self-confessed “skinny twerp” Vince Delmonte the secrets that allowed him to overcome his “skinny genes” and pack on 41 pounds of lean muscle mass in 6 months to become a National Fitness Model champion ==> Vince Delmonte Workout Review