The pushup is the best measure of fitness, according to New York Times writer Tara Parker-Pope. No equipment is required, just your own body and body weight. However, many people would not meet the minimum requirements if given a pushup test. The average number you should be able to perform depends on your age, but adding pushups into your fitness repertoire at any age is important because it measures your fitness level and provides the muscle memory to help you prevent injuries in a fall.
A pushup is a body-weight exercise that works the chest, arms, shoulders and core muscles. To perform a pushup, kneel on the floor, bringing your feet together behind you. Place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, with fingers facing forward. Slowly shift so that your weight is evenly distributed between your toes and your hands. Your knees should be pulled together off the floor, your back should be flat and your ab muscles should be held tight. Bend your elbows and lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor, brushing your chin against the surface. Keep your back flat -- your stomach should not touch the floor. Return to the starting position.
A pushup test is administered to assess your muscular fitness and endurance. A traditional test measures how many pushups you can perform until you can do no more. Another option is to see how many pushups you can do in a specific period of time period, often one or two minutes. Pushups are counted when you touch your chin to the floor and return to the starting position without breaking your form. The number performed without rest is counted as the score.
On average, a 40-year-old man should be able to do 27 pushups, according to the New York Times. A 60-year-old man should be able to do 17. The Canadian Physical Activity, Fitness and Lifestyle Approach says performing 36 pushups is considered excellent fitness for a 20- to 29-year-old man. That number drops to 30 for 30- to 39-year-olds and 25 for 40- to 49-year-olds. If you are in your 50s, the number is 21, and it is 18 if you are between 60 and 69. Minimum requirements range from 17 for a man in his 20s to five for a man in his 60s.
U.S. Military Requirements
Pushups are measured as a part of the physical fitness test for every branch of the military, except the Marine Corps. The Air Force requires at least 45 pushups in one minute to graduate from basic training. You earn the highest standard with 75 pushups. The Navy minimum requirements are similar with 42 pushups for 17- to 19-year-olds. That drops to 31 for 30- to 34-year-olds. The Coast Guard requires males under 30 to do at least 29 pushups in one minute, and the Army requires approximately 40 for the same age group.