As great as push-ups are, they can be challenging to do correctly.
Obviously, as you continue to build and develop the working muscles, you’d expect them to get easier. But that isn’t the only thing that impacts the difficulty level of the exercise.
In this article, we explore the effect that body weight has on push-ups.
We look at whether push-ups are easier if you weigh less, whether they’re more effective for heavier people, as well as other factors that affect the difficulty of push-ups.
Does Your Weight Affect The Difficulty of Push-Ups?
In very basic terms, you’re lifting about 70% of your body weight in the upward phase and around 75% in the downward phase during push-ups.
With that in mind, if someone weighs 200 pounds, they’ll be lifting around 140 pounds when pushing up and around 150 pounds when lowering themselves back down.
If someone weighs 150 pounds, they’ll be lifting around 105 pounds when pushing up, and around 112.5 pounds when lowering themselves back down.
This doesn’t take into account whether the 200-pound person is in better shape or stronger than the 150-pound person though.
There are some exceptionally strong people who may look small but are actually much stronger than even the largest people in the gym.
If you want a simple explanation, then yes, your weight does affect the difficulty of push-ups.
However, if you want a more accurate answer, the overall difficulty of the exercise will depend on multiple factors rather than simply being about how much you weigh.
Are Push-Ups Harder If You Weigh More?
As a general rule, the more you weigh, the harder push-ups should be as you have more weight to move during the exercise.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as that though as other factors come into play such as your strength and fitness levels, as well as how experienced you are in exercise.
Are Push-Ups Easier When You Weigh Less?
Push-ups should be easier when you weigh less but it isn’t always the case.
If you train regularly and have a low body weight, then you’ll likely find push-ups to be quite an easy exercise.
If you haven’t trained before and have a low body weight, then you’ll likely find push-ups to be very challenging despite having to move less weight during the movement.
If you just look at the numbers, then push-ups should be easier when you weigh less as you have less weight to lift.
However, you’ll need to take current levels of strength and overall fitness into account too before deciding whether someone will find them easier than others or not.
Are Push-Ups More Effective The Heavier You Are?
As always, in the world of fitness, the answer to this one is yes, but not always.
Obviously, the more you weigh, the more weight you’ll have to lift during push-ups.
However, push-ups aren’t like other resistance exercises like bench press which tests your absolute strength. Push-ups are all about relative strength.
Your body makeup needs to be able to move your body weight around. So whether you weigh 100 pounds or 500 pounds, your body still needs to deal with your weight.
A 500-pound person who can bench press 500 pounds sounds less impressive than a 100-pound person who can bench press 500 pounds.
With push-ups though, it would probably be much closer to equally impressive if they could both do 10 push-ups.
Push-ups test your relative strength so, no matter how much you weigh, they should always be challenging for you.
Are Push-Ups Less Safe The Heavier You Are?
The more weight you have to lift, the more stress is placed on your working muscles and joints.
This would suggest that there’s a slightly bigger risk involved with doing push-ups the heavier you are.
While the increase in risk should be relatively low, it’s still important to keep this added risk in mind.
Other Factors That Affect The Difficulty of Push-Ups
Upper Body Strength
The greater upper body strength you have, the easier you will likely find push-ups.
Your upper body does a lot of the work during push-ups, so having strong muscle groups in this area will make a big difference in how challenging you find push-ups.
Making sure you’re using the correct technique when doing push-ups can make a big difference.
If you get things wrong, you could be challenging the wrong muscle groups which could be weaker than the target muscles of push-ups.
If you can master the technique, push-ups can be much more comfortable for you to do.
[Watch below to learn how to do the perfect push-up!]
- Push-ups are harder the heavier you are because your bodyweight is used as the resistance for the exercise.
- There are many factors which affect the difficulty of push-ups.
Hope this helped!
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.