How to Calculate Push-Up Resistance

Push-ups have earned a well-deserved place as one of the most popular exercises. They can be done anywhere and simultaneously work the muscles of the core, hips, legs, chest and arms. Since the resistance provided by a push-up is dependent upon total body weight and the distribution of this weight, translating the resistance to a bench press is not as easy as lifting your body weight. Figuring out push-up strength will aid in diversifying your resistance program and assuring proper progression.

A fit man is doing push ups on a bench. (Image: Notorious91/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Do a push-up on a scale. With knees extended, butt and core contracted, and hands shoulder-width apart (or as wide as the scale will allow), perform a push-up. The weight displayed on the scale is the amount of total body weight placed on your hands.

Step 2

Using the same scale, immediately record your total body weight.

Step 3

Divide push-up weight by total body weight. Dividing the former by the latter allows you to find a percent of body weight lifted. Providing there are no significant fluctuations in the distribution of body weight, this percentage can be used to quickly calculate future push-up values. For example, a 170-pound man with a 110-pound push-up weight lifts about 65 percent of his body weight.

Things You'll Need

  • Calculator

  • Bathroom scale


To increase push-up resistance, elevate your feet on a step or bench during the exercise. To decrease resistance, elevate your hands on a step, bench or place them against a wall.

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