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To Push-up or Not?

Posted on August 8, 2017 at 7:35 AM

Ah - the venerable push-up. They are a good exercise, but they definitely can be overdone. Over the last ten years I fell into the push-ups everyday line of thinking. The perfect exercise and all that. For awhile I was even doing 500-700 a day, but 300 was considered the minimum. On the positive side you get great endurance that carries over to running and endurance tasks. On the negative side, your strength plateaus and there is a point where more doesn't translate to strength for other movements.


Another detriment is appearance. But before I go into that, let me add a qualifier. You see your individual genetics has a lot to do with how your body responds to an exercise. What affects me in a certain way, might not affect you the same. Now push-ups can be done anytime and anyplace. They can be done in a myriad of ways. They work the body as a whole, albeit the emphasis is on chest, triceps, and shoulders. So they have a lot of good going for them. 


For me, one of the things I didn't like about push-ups is how it affected my appearance. The ribcage got way too big for the rest of my proportions. I was also starting to get round shouldered. The chest muscles were too big. It was far from a balanced look. So for the past year I have de-emphasized push-ups and worked more on exercises that create strength and mobility in the shoulders and upper back. It can be more than just pull-ups. There are a lot of self-resistance exercises that can be utilized for this. My proportions are changing and I am getting away from that barrel chested, round look. 


Now I still do push-ups. I do them twice a week in a lot of different varieties. They coordinate the body's strength and give a certain look to the triceps, chest and shoulders. However they are not the engine anymore. They help make up a comprehensive train. 

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7 Comments

Reply sixmillionman
9:42 AM on August 10, 2017 
i do push ups twice a week with tension
Reply sixmillionman
9:41 AM on August 10, 2017 
sixmillionman says...
hats the way i view push-ups also
Reply Lionquest1
6:45 AM on August 10, 2017 
Michael says...
Yeah Sixmillionman I know I could live without pushups if I had to. Right now the way I'm doing them is very productive for me. I even told a person that couldn't do them don't worry it's not the end of the world. There are plenty of other exercises that could fill the void.

Yeah Greg self resistance exercise does give You a differant look. I think all training types and You can even go with rep ranges, give a person a slighty differant look. When Your doing pushups for high reps or daily the look is differant plus your overtraining. Also diet comes into play here. That is interesting about Mahoney. So You think he did more self resistance?


This is just my opinion, but he had a wiry look and was extremely coordinated. I am sure he did push-ups, among other things, but self-resistance and isometric exercises are more apt to produce that look and coordination as opposed to hundreds of push-ups.
Reply Michael
7:40 PM on August 9, 2017 
Yeah Sixmillionman I know I could live without pushups if I had to. Right now the way I'm doing them is very productive for me. I even told a person that couldn't do them don't worry it's not the end of the world. There are plenty of other exercises that could fill the void.

Yeah Greg self resistance exercise does give You a differant look. I think all training types and You can even go with rep ranges, give a person a slighty differant look. When Your doing pushups for high reps or daily the look is differant plus your overtraining. Also diet comes into play here. That is interesting about Mahoney. So You think he did more self resistance?
Reply Lionquest1
4:05 PM on August 9, 2017 
Michael says...
For me push ups are not the end all be all they were before to me. I do them 1 to 2 times a week depending on what I'm doing. They can be a good exercise for some and bad for others as You have stated. I believe You'll agree with me on this. You don't even have to do pushups if they don't work for You. There are plenty of other exercises that could work the same muscles if need be. They are a good exercise.

One thing now I do is make them harder. I use a harder variation, differant leverage, tension and concentrate on the working muscles. I kept my rep range in between 5 and 20. When I get to 20 I make them harder, maybe all the way down to 5 reps. This way I have a goal to push for. This kepts the wear and tear to a minumum for me and I feel stronger. Also as You have stated in the past, I balance them out with the opposite plane of motion. Anyhow, like the blog Thanks for sharing!


I like the Atlas course, but the biggest problem with it, is that it never moved you past a certain point. The perpetual lesson was O.K. and doable, but what happened to all of the self-resistance exercises? There are certain athletes with specific genetics who can do push-up alone programs, but I believe most people need something more balanced. I also tend to not believe what Jock Mahoney is supposed to have told Merve Griffin about doing "more" of pushups, situps and deep knee bends in his training. Mahoney, up to his early forties, had a very wiry, and spare build. It was a different look. Where as he may have told Griffin that, I tend to believe he got it from practicing the self-resistance exercises from the Atlas course more than the pushups, and other calisthenics. I have no evidence that is true, but that is the kind of look you'd tend to get with that kind of exercise and Mahoney's body type.
Reply sixmillionman
9:53 AM on August 9, 2017 
hats the way i view push-ups also
Reply Michael
7:00 PM on August 8, 2017 
For me push ups are not the end all be all they were before to me. I do them 1 to 2 times a week depending on what I'm doing. They can be a good exercise for some and bad for others as You have stated. I believe You'll agree with me on this. You don't even have to do pushups if they don't work for You. There are plenty of other exercises that could work the same muscles if need be. They are a good exercise.

One thing now I do is make them harder. I use a harder variation, differant leverage, tension and concentrate on the working muscles. I kept my rep range in between 5 and 20. When I get to 20 I make them harder, maybe all the way down to 5 reps. This way I have a goal to push for. This kepts the wear and tear to a minumum for me and I feel stronger. Also as You have stated in the past, I balance them out with the opposite plane of motion. Anyhow, like the blog Thanks for sharing!