So, you want to know, “Is it Harder to Do Push Ups if You Are Heavy?”
Perhaps, this is something you have noticed yourself, especially if your weight has fluctuated.
Then again, maybe you find bodyweight exercises, such as push ups, to be extremely difficult.
However, when armed with a barbell or dumbbells, things seem so much easier.
So, in this article I’d like to discuss the correlation between your weight and your ability to perform push ups.
Is it Harder to Do Push Ups if You Are Heavy?
If two people are of equal physical fitness and conditioning then the lighter person will find push ups easier. Strength doesn’t have a direct correlation to body weight. In fact, a lighter person is likely to have a greater natural strength to weight ratio. Plus, although not always the case, someone who weighs more may have higher levels of body fat, and will therefore find push ups harder.
1. Do Push Ups Get Harder as You Get Heavier?
Most bodyweight exercises, such as push ups, will typically be easier for a lighter person than a heavier person.
Realistically, this simply comes down to the fact that the lighter person has less weight to move.
However, of course, things are never quite that simple.
You also have to take into account the physical conditioning of each person, as well as their strength, muscle mass, and overall fitness.
That being said, if you took two who were equal in terms of all these factors then the person weighing less would find push ups much easier.
You have to remember that there is no direct correlation between strength and body weight.
This should be obvious when you consider that there are separate training protocols for getting stronger or getting bigger.
What I mean by this is that training for strength will typically involve working out with a certain rep scheme, while ensuring you’re fully recovered between sets, and also getting lots of rest and recovery between workouts.
However, training for size typically involves a lot more volume and having to consume a lot more calories.
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So, in effect, a skinny guy who doesn’t weigh much could actually be stronger than a muscle-bound hulk.
Additionally, you have to look at traditional push ups as much more of a muscular endurance workout, so your conditioning will play a greater role.
Essentially, most of us are cranking out many, many reps of push ups per set, so we may not be training for strength or hypertrophy.
However, although not always the case, you would typically think that a lighter person is better conditioned, and has greater muscular endurance, than a heavier person.
As you can see, there are a lot of “ifs” and “buts”, but in general it will be harder to do push ups if you’re heavy.
2. Does Losing Weight Help With Push Ups?
Whether losing weight can help with push ups once more comes down to your overall conditioning.
However, quite clearly, if you are overweight, not well-trained, not well-conditioned, then losing weight is going to make push ups so much easier.
Realistically, this is actually a double-edged sword.
What I mean by this is that performing a high volume of push ups on a regular basis will typically help to get far better conditioned.
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In fact, depending on your overall volume, you may notice that your regular push ups are helping you to trim excess body fat.
So, in effect, doing more push ups is actually helping you to lose weight, thus making push ups easier than they were before.
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3. It’s All About How You Train Not How Much You Weigh
Now, I’m hoping from what I’ve said so far that you understand that there’s far more to the push up equation than weight alone.
In fact, your overall ability at push ups will have a lot to do with how you train.
Firstly, someone who does a lot of push ups is in effect getting better at doing push ups.
So, regardless of their weight, the longer they have been training push ups, the more efficient they will be at performing them.
That being said, let’s imagine someone who never does push ups, but regularly trains bench press, and is capable of benching twice their weight.
Now, to be able to bench twice your own body weight is no mean feat.
Plus, you can guarantee that a person who is capable of this isn’t relying on pure strength alone.
In fact, they are likely to be extremely well-conditioned too.
Therefore, I would hazard a guess that our extremely strong and well-conditioned lifter could probably crank out more reps of push ups than someone lighter, who trains push ups regularly.
However, let’s say that the same person is extremely strong, but only benches 1.25 x body weight.
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Furthermore, their entire training regime is focused around strength training in the 1-5 rep range.
This may not always be the case, but this person probably won’t have the muscular endurance to crank out a high volume of push ups per set.
They’ll find push ups fairly easy to begin with, but they’ll soon give up on their set, simply because they lack the required conditioning.
However, the person who is benching twice their body weight, and perhaps weighs more than Mr. 1.25 times body weight, is able to perform high-rep push ups sets as they are a better conditioned athlete.
So, while it may often be that it’s harder to perform push ups if you’re heavier, this isn’t always the case.
You always have to look at the individual trainee and their overall abilities.
So, I hope you understand that in the main the heavier you are the harder you’ll find it to do push ups.
That being said, this is the case for two individuals who have the same level of strength, fitness, and conditioning.
So, for two extremely well-trained athletes, the lighter person should find push ups much easier to perform.
However, you also have to take into consideration a person’s training and their overall abilities.
Therefore, a heavier, but very well-conditioned athlete, is likely to be able to perform more push ups per set than a lighter, average-trained person.
So, while your weight may have an impact on how difficult you find push ups, it’s much more about your levels of fitness and muscular endurance.
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.