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What Is Better: Pushups or Lifting Weights?

author image Mike Samuels
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.
What Is Better: Pushups or Lifting Weights?
Pushups are no match for weight training when trying to get into shape. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

It's possible to use both pushups and weights in a training routine to help you build muscle, increase your strength, boost your fitness and burn fat. While you might be tempted to solely perform pushups when trying to get into shape, you'll miss out on a host of benefits that weight training offers. By limiting your workouts, you can even do more harm than good.

Muscle Growth

In order for hypertrophy, or muscle growth, to occur, you must perform intense training sessions using progressive resistance. You also need to give them the proper rest and nutrients to grow. For hypertrophy, the best repetition per set range to train in is the eight to 12 rep range. Pushups might feel difficult at first, but once you have perfected your technique, you should be able to do at least 20 continuous reps with ease. Doing so means that the muscle won't be optimally stressed for hypertrophy, and pushups will become more of a muscular endurance exercise. With weight training, however, you can increase the weight you lift to constantly train in the eight to 12 rep range.


Pushups work your chest, shoulders and triceps muscles. When a muscle gets stronger and bigger, it also gets tighter. This tightness isn't a problem if you have a balanced weights routine that works the upper back muscles in equal measure to your chest muscles. Performing only pushups will make your chest and shoulder muscles tighten, drawing your shoulders forward and giving you a hunched back posture. This is known as upper crossed syndrome, which can cause pain and discomfort.


To weight train, you either need to buy a gym membership and travel to the gym whenever you want to work out or buy weights to use at home. Pushups are far more convenient. You can perform this exercise anywhere without any equipment.

Combining Pushups and Weights

Weights might be the better choice to reach your training goals, but that doesn't mean that you should exclude pushups from your routine. Base your training around compound free-weight exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, rows, and bench presses, which will increase your muscle growth and strength. Use pushups and other body-weight exercises, such as chinups and planks, as fitness and conditioning circuits or to complement your weight work.

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