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Can You Get Ripped by Doing Push Ups?

author image Joseph Eitel
Joseph Eitel has written for a variety of respected online publications since 2006 including the Developer Shed Network and He has dedicated his life to researching and writing about diet, nutrition and exercise. Eitel's health blog,, has become an authority in the healthy-living niche. He graduated with honors from Kellogg Community College in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science.
Can You Get Ripped by Doing Push Ups?
Pushups work multiple muscle groups. Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Pushups are one of those exercises people often overlook, but it’s one of the most effective compound exercises you can do without any special equipment. A compound exercise is one that exercises multiple muscle groups at the same time. Pushups work the chest, arms, abdominals, hips and leg muscles. Whether or not pushups can help you get ripped depends on how many you do, how often you do them and other factors, such as your diet.

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Getting ripped is all about shedding excess fat and building muscle. Pushups can help you strengthen and build muscle, although it does not directly burn fat. However, increased muscle mass can help you burn calories more efficiently, meaning you’ll burn fat in the long run by increasing the concentration of muscle on your body. Since pushups work so many of your major muscle groups at once, it’s a time-efficient way to build strength and muscle. One of the greatest benefits of doing pushups is that it requires no special gym equipment and can be done just about anywhere.


The University of Massachusetts and American College of Sports Medicine offer a set of guidelines for how many pushups you should be able to do according to your age and gender. Adult males age 20 to 29 should be able to do a minimum of 36 pushups to fall within the “excellent” category. Females in the same age range should achieve 30 or more pushups to fall within the same category. The minimum standards decrease with age. Sixty- to 69-year-old men and women should be able to do 18 and 17 pushups, respectively, to fall within the “excellent” category. These are minimum requirements to shoot for if your goal is get ripped using pushups on a consistent basis.

Military Pushup Workout

The military realizes the effectiveness of pushups, which is why it tests soldiers regularly on how many pushups they can complete. Stew Smith, former Navy SEAL and author at, has designed a weekly pushup workout for building strength and increasing the number of pushups you can complete. Do 200 pushups on odd days in as few sets as possible, such as four sets of 50 or two sets of 100. On even days, complete 200 pushups spread out among 10 sets throughout the day. Continue this pattern for 10 days before taking three days off. You should notice a significant increase of at least 30 pushups or more to your pushup max.

Other Factors

If you want to get ripped, pushups are certainly one inexpensive and effective way to get started. However, the best way to shed excess body fat to reveal those six-pack abs is by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. This includes avoiding unhealthy food choices like sugary drinks and high-calorie snacks. Instead, choose nutritionally dense foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, fat-free dairy and lean cuts of meat. Combine this diet plan with a consistent weekly pushup workout.

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