Can Pushups Build Muscle?

Some of my articles have affiliate links. If you buy through those, I may earn a commission at no cost to you.
Can Pushups Build Muscle?

Push-ups, also called press ups, are one of the best compound bodyweight exercises that you can do, targeting different areas of the upper body without needing any equipment to perform.

The big question, however, is can pushups build muscle? 

The short answer? Yes – push ups can help to build muscle. Specifically the chest (pecs), front deltoid, and triceps.

Push ups have countless variations and can even be made harder by adding weight.

Push-ups replicate the bench press, being a direct alternative that simply involves pressing your bodyweight instead of a barbell.

And no matter how much you can bench, there is always a push-up variation, or push-up workout, that is going to challenge you.

Don’t believe us? Make sure to read on.

The Benefits Of Push Ups

First, let’s run through the main benefits of pushups. These include:

  • increasing upper body strength
  • building chest muscle, shoulder muscle, and tricep muscles
  • increasing physical endurance
  • improving core stability and strength

In addition to these push up benefits, push-ups require no equipment at all, and have countless variations that can further increase strength and build muscle size.

In other words, you can start getting strong and building muscle today by just doing push-ups.

How To Do A Push Up

Like any exercise, making sure to perform push ups with correct form (correct technique) is the best way to get the most out of the exercise.

To put it another way: by performing push-ups properly, you are going to build more muscle size and strength. Likewise, poor push up form is going to hold you back.

How To Do A Perfect Push-Up With Good Form

Get down on the floor with your arms fully extended. Your wrists, elbows, and shoulders should be stacked on top of each other.

Your palms should also be flat, facing forward, with your legs fully extended on tiptoes.

In addition, make sure your body is in a straight line from your heels to your shoulders.

From this position, lower your upper body to the floor, making sure that your chest line falls to where you have placed your palms. Your elbows should be slightly tucked, not flared.

While your chest does not have to touch the floor, you should aim to get close.

Lastly, push yourself up to your initial starting position to complete one perfect rep.

How Many Pushups Should I Do A Day?

This is a popular question regarding push-ups, but one that simply does not have a single, correct answer.

In general, the number of push-ups that you should do a day is an amount that challenges you.

If you are a beginner, any amount of push-ups is going to be beneficial.

You can perform your max number (for strength and endurance), or split your push-ups into sets, such as 3 sets of 8-12 push-ups (for strength and hypertrophy) with a minute of rest in between each set.

If you are an advanced athlete, or a gym regular, you still should not neglect push ups, as push-ups can provide a good warm-up, as well as an effective final drop set after a heavy session on the bench.

Push Up Variations

As mentioned above, one of the benefits of push ups is their versatility. There are many different push up variations, which can increase or decrease the difficulty, as well as target different areas of your chest and shoulders.

First of all, if you struggle with regular push-ups, knee push ups are an ideal way to build strength for push-ups.

To replicate incline and decline bench press, you can also elevate your legs or hands. These are known as incline push-ups and decline push-ups. Another way to mix things up is to slow down your reps (slow push-ups) or perform explosive plyometric push-ups.

You can also change the position of your hands to target different areas of your chest. These effective push-up variations include diamond push ups, wide push ups, archer push ups, and typewriter push ups

Lastly, if you think push-ups are too easy, then you haven’t tried pseudo planche push ups, tuck planche push ups, one arm push ups, handstand push ups, and 90 degree push ups!

Push Ups vs Bench Press

Can Pushups Build Muscle?

Push ups vs bench press – which is better?

This is a commonly asked question. And the answer is that both exercises have their pros and cons.

The main advantage of the bench press is the ability to conveniently adjust the weight load. Bench press disadvantages are the limitation of variety, as well as the fact that you need a bench press or a gym membership.

The advantages of push-ups are that you can do them anywhere, with many variations to choose from. The main disadvantage of push-ups is the limitation to overload the exercise when push-ups become easy. 

Despite this, push-up difficulty can actually be increased using a weighted vest or resistance band.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will 100 Push Ups A Day Do Anything?

100 push ups a day, no matter the number of sets, will benefit you – even if you are an advanced athlete. Push-ups are one of the best upper body exercises you can do, with many variations that can increase the difficulty.

Depending on your ability and level, push-ups will help to build strength, muscle, endurance, and burn fat. Even if you are an advanced athlete, push-ups can also strengthen tendons and joints, as well as provide a great warm-up or final drop set, trained to failure.

Will Pushups Make You Bigger?

If you are a beginner, or someone who has never done push-ups before, push-ups will make you bigger by helping you to build muscle. Push-ups are one of the best upper body exercises, effectively targeting the chest (pectorals), shoulders (deltoid), and triceps. 

Push-ups can also help to build muscle when performed in a final drop set, or performed to failure. Push-up difficulty can even be increased by using a resistance band or weighted vest, or by performing harder push-up variations.

What Are Ways to Make Push-Ups Harder?

There are two ways to make push-ups harder: adding weight to the exercise or performing push up variations. You can add weight to push-ups by wearing a weighted vest, using a resistance band, or elevating your legs.

Push-up variations that are harder than regular push-ups include decline push ups, archer push ups, slow push ups, explosive push ups, pseudo planche push ups, tuck planche push push ups, and one arm arm push ups, to name a few.


In short: yes – push-ups can build muscle.

For beginners, push-ups are one of the best upper body compound exercises to start doing. And for more advanced athletes, push ups can still help to build muscle by performing difficult push up variations or adding weight to the exercise.

The big advantage of push-ups is their versatility. Push-ups can be performed anywhere without equipment, with hundreds of variations that can challenge even the most advanced athlete.

No matter whether you can bench your bodyweight or perform 90-degree push ups, push-ups should still be included in your routine – even as a warm-up, drop set, or a final exercise performed to failure!

About The Author

heydayDo author Greg Simon

Hi, I’m Greg Simon. Fitness training & nutrition researching since 1982. ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) Pro Member. MBA, B.Sc.

Author. Surfer. Organic food grower. Congenital heart disease survivor (so far). is my wellness blog that’s about encouraging a healthy lifestyle as we age. 

I share my fitness training experience as well as the sports science research I’ve done on the many benefits strength building, exercise, & good eating habits offer us. 

I also write review articles after product testing and evaluating home gym equipment & fitness supplements.

My hope is that you’ll find useful or encouraging information here on my website that will benefit your unique fitness journey.

Scroll to Top