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Build Muscles by Doing Only Push-Ups: Everything You Need to Know

  • by Wayne Foong Weng Hui

Push-ups are one of the most underrated exercises out there. They're easy to do, and they work your whole body. Push-ups can build insane strength and hypertrophy in your chest, arms, back, core -- the list goes on! This is why it's important that you take push-up seriously if you want to get strong.

If you push yourself hard enough with these exercises every day for a few weeks straight (or months), you're going to see some serious results, in terms of visual appearance and strength.

Table of content:

What is a push-up?

It is one of the most well-known and ancient body weight workouts since its genesis. Push-up is often used in a fitness test and is a way to measure your upper body strength and endurance.

A push-up is a compound exercise that primarily targets the chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles.

The closer you place your hands in relation to each other during a push-up, the more emphasis is on pushing with your chest muscles. The wider apart they are placed, the more your shoulders will be involved.

How to do a push-up?

Push-up is basically performing plank with arm movement.

First, you need to get into the plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and feet close together.

Then slowly lower yourself down by bending your elbows until they are at about 90 degrees angle or till you feel the tension in your chest muscles. Once that happens, press up explosively to push yourself back up into starting position.

Push-ups are supposed to be performed in sets with rest in between the sets. You can do as many push-ups as you feel comfortable doing (or want, depending on your goal).

What muscles is push-up targeting?

Push-up primarily targets your chest muscles (also known as pectoralis major), triceps, and shoulders.

  • Pectoralis major: These are a pair of thick triangular muscles that form the bulk of your chest. They're also known as pectoralis major and anterior, which is one reason they can be confusing to people who don't work out or know much about exercise anatomy.
  • Triceps brachii : The triceps brachii muscle makes up the back part of the upper arm. The triceps are responsible for straightening your arms when they're extended, as in a traditional push-up.
  • Deltoids: The deltoids are the muscles in your shoulders that give them their rounded appearance. Three different parts of the deltoid muscle make up the ball-shaped head of each shoulder, known as "delts".
  • Serratus anterior: This muscle sits on top of your rib cage and helps you move the scapula. In a push-up, this muscle is responsible for stabilizing your shoulder blades as you lower down into a push-up and push them back up.

Besides the upper body muscles, push-up requires strong core muscles to maintain a straight body position.

What are the benefits of doing push-ups?

It is a compound exercise which means it targets multiple muscle groups and joints.

Push-up is one of the most dominant calisthenics exercises to build strong pushing strength.

It requires no equipment, can be done anywhere. All you need is a floor.

Push-up is also meant for all fitness levels. It can be done by everyone at any age and gender, and can be modified to fit your fitness level.

Push-ups promote body coordination and balance because of the constant shifting of weight from one arm to another.

Can you build muscle with just push-ups?

Yes, you'll be able to build muscles just by doing push-up alone because it incorporates so many different major and minor muscle groups.

Many have built amazing body shapes using only calisthenics, and a push-up is one of the fundamental moves.

However, compared to the muscle gain, doing only push-up might gain you more significant strength gain according to a study. And this is definitely something a fitness lover likes to hear.

You also want to try different push-up variations if normal push-up becomes too easy for you. Keep doing the same movement over and over again is only to give you an average result.

Push-up techniques to build muscles

There are so many different variations of push-up that people can invent and you probably know a dozen.

Each variation has its own purpose and focus, depending on the muscles you want to target while performing it. And definitely not all of them are useful in building muscles.

Use these push-up techniques to maximize your hyperthrophy gain:

  • Slow down: Execute every reps of push-up with total control and slow movement is the best way to fire up all the muscles fibers. It is so efficient to exhaust your muscles that your push-up number will decrease dramatically.
  • High intensity, low reps: Your max reps should not exceed 10. If you do, it is too easy for you and you need to level it up. Try a harder move such as explosive push-up. Keep it between 5 to 10 reps in a set with 30 seconds rest.
  • Do weighted push-up: Weighed vest is a great choice to make your push-up instantly harder without changing the movement.

Will 100 push-ups a day do anything?

100 push-ups a day is great at building muscle endurance.

If you break down the 100 push-ups in several session throughout the day, you are basically using the grease-the-groove(GTG) technique to up your max push-up repetition. If your goal is to crush some push-up contest, it can be helpful to up your max push-up rep in a row.

However, if you want to gain muscle mass, 100 push-ups a day won't contribute much to it. And it certainly won't gain you Saitama-kinda-strength if that's what you're after.

You better off stop chasing the number and start to do something harder and challenging. Learn how to progress your bodyweight training.

What are the benefits of push-ups for females?

While it seems like most men can do push-up since the day one. Push-up can be really challenging for females.

Able to perform push-ups means a ton to a female. It means she has a above-average strength than her lady peers. It means she has built a wonderful foundation for harder calisthenics skills. It also means she has a better shape of body and well-toned arms.

It is also a great exercise to improve shoulder stability, flexibility, and strength.

Are push-ups good for breast?

Push-up does change the shape and perkiness of breast because it helps build muscles underneath. However, it will not upgrade your breast cup after doing 100 push-ups in a week.

It will make your chest appears bigger because the underlying chest muscles are being developed. Performing push-ups with great form also means you will practice perfect posture.

All and all, those are what make a female body aesthetically pleasing. And that's what matter the most at the end of the day.

Is it good to do push-ups every day?

If you are a beginner, push-up is no different than other exercises. You should give your body some rest days in between so that it can recover and grow stronger after each workout. The best way will be doing push-up only every other day or thrice a week tops.

If you are more advanced and the normal pull push-up is no longer a challenge, then yes you can do push-ups every day. You can also use it as a warm-up set before performing something harder like dips or weighted dips.

What are the risks of doing push-ups every day?

There is nothing wrong with doing push-ups every day if you are used to the movement.

However, if you are a beginner and your muscles haven't been conditioned to intensive workouts before, it can cause tears in the muscle fibers which will lead to an injury. And trust me; no one wants an untimely injury when he or she just getting started working out.

Do push-ups work abs?

Absolutely. Push-up works your abs in the isometric manner. You have to engage your core through the whole exercise to keep your body aligned in a straight line. It is a lot easier to do push-up with proper technique and if you have strong abs, it would be next to impossible for you to collapse or bend in the middle of a set because those muscles are being engaged throughout the movement.

It also helps strengthening your lower back which is important at keeping your spine healthy.

Is it possible to get "ripped" by doing only push-ups?

Yes, push-up or any other workout is possible to make you ripped, as long as your nutrition is on point.

What exercises do is burn calories and build muscle mass. You have to make sure you also intake healthy food and enough protein. So you can grow more lean muscles and less fat.

The more muscles and less body fat you have, the more "ripped" you are. Simple as that.

How do I avoid plateauing?

Add push ups variations in your workout routine so you can target different body areas and keep things fun.

For example, if you are pretty good at explosive push ups, maybe you will find imbalance in archer push ups with your weaker arm. Start attack the weakness and you will be building stronger pushing strength overall.

Always keep the difficulty of workout in check. If you are able to do 20 push-ups in a row, it is time for you to add weight. If push up bores you out because all your muscles have been developed and there isn't any "fun factor" left to work on, then why not try something harder?

Potential risks of push-up to keep in mind

If doing pushups causes pain or if they sound like popping noises, stop immediately, consult a physical therapist before trying anything else.

Balance your push and pull exercises. You don't want to develop imbalance structure in the long term. If you have do enough push ups, pull ups will be a good companion to the routine. It keeps the shoulders balanced and healthy.

Warm up your wrists before anything else. Push-up often presisng the wrists against the floor and that sometimes can be too harsh for the joints. Alternatively, you can use fist push-up which puts the wrists in a neutral position and protect it from injury.

What are other push up variations?

  1. Fist Push Up
  2. Elevated Push Up
  3. Archer Push Up
  4. Clap Push Up
  5. One Arm Push Up
  6. Ring Push Up
  7. Slow Push Up
  8. Diamond Push Up (or close grip push ups)
  9. Ultrawide Push Up
  10. Superman Push Up
  11. Wall Assisted Handstand Push Up
  12. Handstand Push Up
  13. Dive Bomber Push Up
  14. Planche Push Up

Are slow push-up better?

Slow push-up is awesome in building body awareness and engaging all the upper body muscles. This push-up variant works extremely well in spotting weaknesses in your form. For example, if you have a strength imbalance in your right and left arm. You'll notice the weaker arm trembles and give up sooner than the stronger arm.

Performing a push up in slow motion also means you're putting the body under stress for an extended period of time. This scenario is idea in builidng muscle mass. So if you're looking to bulk up, the slow push-up is one of the best exercises.

Push-up is too awesome to ignore

Push-ups are an excellent exercise for building upper body strength and muscle mass. And while they’re a great workout on their own, adding variations to the routine can help you stay motivated by challenging yourself in new ways.

Remember that it is important to balance out pushing exercises with pulling exercises like pull-ups if you want to avoid postural problems down the line. Push up may be one of the most effective workouts around, but only when done correctly! The principles we've shared will help ensure your form stays strong throughout every set so you don't get injured along the way.

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