Try the Pushup Fitness Test

Riddle me this: What’s one of your least favorite exercises? If you said PUSHUPS, I don’t blame you. Pushups are hard, especially for women because we usually don’t have as much upper body strength as men do. And they’re just hard, right?

BUT, pushups are so, so, so good for you. They work everything in your upper body as well as your core, giving you a huge payback for not too much work. I mean, there’s some work there for sure.

In fact, if you’re not doing any exercise, I would say – just do some pushups every day because that, my friends, counts as a workout.

Now, we often take body measurements and other assessments to keep track of progress, but fitness tests are also a good way to actually FEEL your progress. Fitness tests are a great way to measure where you are and the pushup test is a favorite of personal trainers because it’s a simple way to measure your endurance and upper body strength.

How to Do the Pushup Test

Take the test to establish a baseline for muscular endurance and upper body strength. Once you’ve gotten your score, take the test again every 4-6 weeks
to track your progress.

By adding pushups to your regular workout routine and working on your upper body strength, you can increase the number of
pushups you can do over time.  If you’re not able to do the pushups described below, I’ve got some modifications for you to try  and you can work your way up to more challenging versions.

Wall Pushups

Stair Rail Pushups

Hands and Knees

  1. Begin with 5-10 minutes of cardio to warm up the muscles
  2. For men: Get into a pushup position on the
    hands and toes. The hands should be about shoulder-width apart, back straight and the head up.
  3. For women: Get into a pushup position on the hands and knees. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart and your back should be straight with your head lifted.
  4. Lower into a pushup, bending the elbows and lowering down until the chin touches the mat. Your back should be straight and stiff throughout the movement and your belly should not touch the mat. If this is too hard, just go as low as you can! It’s all good.
  5. Push up to a straight arm position.
  6. Continue doing as many pushups as you can with good form at a consistent pace.
  7. Stop the test when you’re straining or if your form is slipping.
  8. Use the table below to find your score, which is based on the number of pushups you can do consecutively without rest.

Table: Pushup Fitness Test Results

WomenAge 20-29Age 30-39Age 40-49Age 50-59Age 60-69

Excellent3027242117
Very Good21-2920-2615-2311-2012-16
Good15-2013-1911-147-105-11
Fair10-148-125-102-62-4
Needs Improvement97411
Men

Excellent3630252118
Very Good29-3522-2917-2413-2011-17
Good22-2817-2113-1610-128-10
Fair17-2112-1610-127-95-7
Needs Improvement1611964

Source:

American College of Sports Medicine. (2006). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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