Kinetic analysis of several variations of push-ups

J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Oct;25(10):2891-4. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31820c8587.


Push-ups are a common and practical exercise that is used to enhance fitness, including upper body strength or endurance. The kinetic characteristics of push-ups and its variations are yet to be quantified. Kinetic quantification is necessary to accurately evaluate the training load, and thus the nature of the training stimulus, for these exercise variations. This study assessed the peak vertical ground reaction forces (GRFs) of push-up variations including the regular push-up and those performed with flexed knee, feet elevated on a 30.48-cm box, and a 60.96-cm box, and hands elevated on a 30.48-cm box and a 60.96-cm box. Twenty-three recreationally fit individuals (14 men, 9 women) performed each of the 6 push-up variations in a randomized order. Peak GRF and peak GRF expressed as a coefficient of subject body mass were obtained with a force platform. Push-ups with the feet elevated produced a higher GRF than all other push-up variations (p ≤ 0.05). Push-ups with hands elevated and push-ups from the flexed knee position produced a lower GRF than all other push-up variations (p ≤ 0.05). No gender differences in response to these push-up variations were found (p > 0.05). Additionally, subject height was not related to the GRF for any of the push-up conditions (p > 0.05) other than the condition where hands were elevated on a 60.96-cm box (p ≤ 0.05; r = 0.63). These data can be used to progress the intensity of push-ups in a program and to quantify the training load as a percentage of body mass.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Shoulder / physiology*
  • Young Adult