Pushup tests are often used to determine your upper-body muscular endurance. Using your own body-weight as resistance, these tests are often performed to assess military and youth physical fitness levels. The standards for each of these groups are different, and the classification of what is considered “a lot” varies.
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For U.S. Army physical fitness tests, any number of pushups completed at the 100 percent rank score for your age and sex would be considered “a lot” of pushups. For males ages 17 to 21, performing more than 71 pushups in a row would be considered exceptional. Males aged 22 to 26 would be classified as performing “a lot” if they could perform 75 pushups in a row. Females ages 17 to 21 would earn the rank score of 100 percent by completing 42 or more pushups. Females ages 22 to 26 would earn the maximum score for completing 46 pushups or more.
Presidential Fitness Standards For Boys
The Presidential Physical Fitness award is given to students in physical education courses across the United States for completing each event at the 85th percentile. Doing a lot of pushups for boys would mean reaching this percentile score or higher. Boys ages 6 to 12 need to perform nine (age 6), 14, 17, 18, 22, 27 and 31 (age 12) pushups to reach the 85th percentile ranking. Another big jump occurs at 13 with boys needing to complete 39 pushups to reach the desired score. The range tightens up at 14, 15 and 16 with the number needing to reach 40, 42 and 44 completed. Age 17 sees another jump with 53 needed to be performed to reach the 85th percentile standard.
Presidential Fitness Standards for Girls
The presidential fitness award is also presented to girls who reach the 85th percentile. Girls ages 6, 7, 8 and 9 need to complete 9, 14, 17 and 18 pushups, respectively. These are the exact same values for boys of the same age. The number needed to reach the threshold ranges from 20 to 25 for girls ages 10 to 17. Girls age 10 need to complete 20, girls age 11 need to complete 19 and girls age 12 need to complete 20 pushups. Girls ages 13, 14 and 15 need to complete 21, 20 and 21 pushups, respectively, to meet the 85th percentile ranking. At ages 16 and 17, girls need to perform slightly more pushups, at 24 and 25, respectively to meet the criteria for the 85th percentile.
Pushups work the muscles of the chest, shoulders and triceps, so training these muscles with other resistance-based exercises will improve your pushup performance. Also note that the standards for a military grade pushup require you to lower your body all the way to the floor while the presidential fitness pushup only requires your elbows to reach a 90-degree angle. This means military pushups require more strength through the full range of motion.