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Do Push-Ups Work Legs? (Why Your Legs Are Shaking!)

Push-ups are known for being a highly effective upper body exercise.

Many gym-goers use push-ups to help them reach their fitness goals of having bigger and stronger chests, shoulders, and arms.

However, it’s worth considering whether push-ups can play a part in your lower body development too.

That’s why, in this article, we look into whether push-ups are good for your legs.

In it, we discuss points such as whether push-ups can help strengthen your legs, whether push-ups can help tone your legs, and why your legs might hurt during and after push-ups.

Woman doing a push up in a crossfit gym

Do Push-Ups Work Legs?

Surprisingly, push-ups can be good for your legs.

While they’re clearly an upper body exercise that works your chest, shoulders, and arms, there are actually several other muscle groups that activate during the movement. These include your core and your legs.

Obviously, your legs won’t be doing as much work as some of your upper body muscles but they’ll certainly be working to some extent.

As a result, push-ups can help (in the long term) with your lower body development fitness goals too.

Do Push-Ups Strengthen Your Legs?

As your legs activate during push-ups, the working muscles will eventually get stronger and more developed.

It’s worth mentioning though, that doing hundreds of push-ups won’t give you anywhere near as many benefits to your legs as leg-specific resistance exercises such as squats will, but they can certainly help over the long term.

Do Push-Ups Tone Your Legs?

Yes, to some extent, push-ups can help tone your legs.

When you’re doing push-ups, you’re burning calories, potentially burning fat, and increasing testosterone in your body.

All of these things can help improve muscle tone all over your body as well as in the muscles working in the movement itself.

This means that muscle tone can improve all over your body, including in your legs, as a result of doing push-ups on a regular basis.

Why Do Your Legs Hurt During Push-Ups?

The main reason for your legs hurting during push-ups is that they’re one of the muscle groups activating during the movement.

Despite being a predominantly upper body exercise, push-ups actually recruit muscles from your lower body too.

As the muscles in your legs activate during push-ups, you could very well feel some discomfort and soreness in this area as you do the exercise.

You should always be aware of how severe any discomfort is during exercise.

It should always be mild discomfort and never change into pain.

Any pain felt during push-ups (or any exercise) could be a sign of an injury.

Why Are Your Legs Shaking During Push-Ups?

You might think that your legs shaking during push-ups is a bad thing but it could actually be completely normal and simply be the result of an effective and challenging workout.

Your nervous system controls muscle contraction.

During a workout, your nervous system will be working very hard as your muscles will be contracting more than they would in day-to-day life. As a result, your nervous system can get fatigued which leads to your muscles shaking.

This could explain why your legs shake during push-ups.

It’s simply due to your nervous system becoming fatigued as your leg muscles activate and contract to some degree during the exercise.

You should keep in mind though, that leg shaking could also be a sign of dehydration.

If you’re concerned that this is the reason, it could be a good idea to drink a sports drink that has electrolytes in to see if this helps reduce the shaking.

Why Do Your Legs Hurt After Push-Ups?

Like any exercise, during push-ups, microscopic tears form in the working muscles. These tears can cause some discomfort after your workout.

As your legs are working during push-ups, it makes sense that some tears form in your leg muscles. So, you may feel some discomfort and soreness in them afterward.

As long as what you’re feeling is simply mild discomfort and not pain, this is probably completely normal and to be expected.

However, if you’re feeling pain and are struggling to carry on with your everyday life, seeking medical assistance could be a good idea to rule out the possibility of an injury.


In summary:

  • While push-ups activate your legs as stabilizing muscles, they’re not a leg-focused exercise and you shouldn’t do just push-ups with the goal of building your legs.
  • Your legs may shake during push-ups as the leg muscles start getting fatigued.

That’s all for this article, but are push ups dangerous? Or how many push ups do you need to do to lose a pound?

Hope this helped!


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