The effect of position on the percentage of body mass supported during traditional and modified push-up variants

J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Feb;25(2):497-503. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181bde2cf.


The push-up is a popular upper-extremity weight-bearing exercise. However, limited information is available regarding its effectiveness. Much of the past research has focused on muscle activation levels, whereas very little has examined the forces encountered during push-up variants. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of position within the range of motion on the percentage of body mass (BM) supported by the upper extremities during the traditional and modified (knees-down) push-up. Twenty-eight highly strength-trained male subjects were positioned with their hands on a force platform in 4 static positions, consisting of the up and down position in both the traditional and modified push-up exercise. The performance measures included the average vertical ground reaction force (GRF), expressed as a percentage of BM, supported in each of the 4 static positions and the percentage of change between the up and down positions in each push-up exercise. In both the traditional and modified push-ups, subjects supported less weight in the up vs. the down position. The percentage change in % BM from the up to the down position was greater in the modified push-up variant. The pattern of resistances to the push-up exercises observed in this study may be a result of differing moment arms between the support surface contact point (knees or feet) and the hands. These results may be useful in prescribing programs for strengthening and/or rehabilitation for both the prime movers and stabilizers of the upper extremity. Further, range of motion may need to be altered to accommodate strength differences in beginners and clients rehabilitating from injury.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Posture*
  • Resistance Training / methods
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Upper Extremity*
  • Weight-Bearing
  • Young Adult