Are Pushups a Good Workout?

Instructor with fitness class doing push ups in park
A group of people are doing pushups. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

One of the greatest running backs of all time, Hershel Walker, does 750 to 1,500 pushups daily as a main part of his workout regimen to support his new passion: martial arts fighting. This old-school move is one of the most effective exercises you can do to strengthen your upper body functionally. Pushups provide a challenging and effective workout for your chest, arms and shoulders, while your legs, back and core activate to stabilize you.

Not Your Plain Old Pushup

Pushups are infinitely modifiable, so almost any level of exerciser can do them. Beginners can head to a wall, while strongmen can do one-arm or handstand versions. Change your arm or body position to emphasize different muscles -- for example, put your feet on a bench and your hands on the floor to work the fronts of the shoulders harder. Do pushups off a balancing device, with one leg elevated, or with your hands on a medicine ball. You can also use them as part of a cardio routine: Do as many pushups as you can in 30 to 60 seconds and your heart rate soars. You can create an entire workout routine around pushups, especially if you have limited space and equipment.

Functional Benefits

Pushups count as a weight-bearing exercise for the upper body, so you build bone density in the arms, chest and shoulders. Pushups are also a good workout for seniors who may need to catch themselves during a fall.

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