In this technological age of ab rollers, electrode muscle builders, and wizz bang supplements, the humble push up has sadly taken a back seat among fitness “gurus”. Deemed “not sexy enough” by many folks, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is due more to its lack of effectiveness as a muscle building exercise as opposed to the feeling that it is just not trendy.
Well, in my personal opinion push ups still remain one of THE best upper body exercises you can perform, and certainly the best bodyweight exercise of them all. Here I’m going to answer the question of “do push ups build muscle?”, and show you a few reasons why they are worth performing on a regular basis.
Do Push Ups Build Muscle?
Even though push ups are a calisthenic exercise, they can still be a great exercise for muscle building, since it is said that during a push up you are lifting about 60% of your bodyweight.
The extent to which push ups will help you to build muscle will depend on a number of factors:
- number of repetitions you perform
- frequency (how often you perform them)
- increasing the resistance
- level of fitness
For instance, if you are a beginner and struggle with performing a few push ups, then obviously following a regular push up program will see you achieve faster muscular development than folks who have a higher level of fitness, or can already do a large of number of push ups.
The Reason Most Push Up Programs Fail
As you may know, the secret to building muscle is to continually increase the resistance or load that your muscles have to lift.
For this reason many push up programs fail to produce quality results since it’s not easy to increase the resistance that you have to lift (your body weight stays pretty static).
A way around this is to get yourself a weighted vest, or a backpack with weights in it and use this while doing your press ups. This will “increase” your body weight and make your push up routine more effective for building muscle.
Increasing the number of repetitions and changing up the positions (wide or close grip, or inclined with your feet up) can also help to increase muscular strength and develop your muscles.
Are They The Most Effective Method?
While I’m a massive fan of push ups and perform them almost every day, I do have to say that they are not the most effective method for building muscle.
If you’re looking to gain muscle mass in a shorter time period then you should really be performing some kind of weight training, since the resistance levels can increased far more with weights than with push ups, and it also takes less repetitions to get muscular development with weight training.
Push ups can however, really complement your workout routine and help work the smaller muscle groups that can be difficult with weights. They can also serve as a fabulous warm up and certainly get the blood flowing.
What’s Right For You?
So, should you perform push ups to build muscle or not?
The answer to this question is largely down what situation your are currently in and your level of fitness.
If you’re a beginner who is not currently doing any weight training then I would seriously encourage you to begin using a push up routine straight away. This, if performed regularly can help you to see some good muscle gains, even without weight training.
For those who are more advanced, I’d recommend you add a push up routine to your workout. It will help you to continue to develop muscle, but will also increase your muscular endurance and continue your strength development.
The beauty of the push up is its simplicity and the fact that it requires little or no equipment. In this respect it is perfect for those who don’t have access to a gym, or when you find yourself on holiday and need to get a quick workout in.