One of the best bodyweight exercises to help build muscular endurance and develop muscle, the pushup is a mainstay in exercise and calisthenics. Depending on which type of pushup you do and the angle of your feet and hands, you can lift anywhere from 50 percent to 80 percent of your bodyweight.
How to Do a Pushup
Lie on the floor face down with your your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart. Keeping your core tight, extend your elbows so only the balls of your feet are touching the ground. Lower yourself until your chest almost touches the ground and then extend your arms again. Your body from your head to your heels should be in a straight line throughout the entire motion.
Body Weight Test
To find out how much of your body weight you lift during a pushup, perform a pushup on a scale. Lay the scale on a flat surface and then put your hands on the scale. Perform a pushup and the weight listed on the scale will tell you how much weight was lifted. To find the percentage of your bodyweight that you lifted, divide the weight on the scale by your weight. For example, if the scale reads 100 lbs. and you weigh 165 lbs., you lifted about 60 percent of your bodyweight.
Body Weight Percentage
How much bodyweight lifted during a pushup is based on the angle of your feet and hands. According to a September 2007 article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a standard pushup (hands and feet on the floor with your core tight) uses about 65 percent of your bodyweight.
Incline pushups, in which the hands are higher than the feet such as doing a pushup with your hands on a bench, uses about 50 percent of your bodyweight.
Pushups in which your feet are higher than your hands use roughly 75 percent to 80 percent of your bodyweight.
Even if two people weigh the same, whoever has a heavier top body will lift more during a pushup. This is why men often lift a higher percentage of their bodyweight than women because men are more top heavy with more muscle in their torso, chest and shoulders. Women have more weight in their legs and hips. For those whose upper body is not well-developed, performing bent-knee pushups will help develop their chest, shoulders, triceps and core strength until they can do a regular or more advanced pushup.