If you consider yourself “fat,” could you benefit from doing pushups?

When I was a personal trainer I had many overweight clients. You may want to hold off on pushups for a while.

First of all, a poorly conditioned person who’s not even overweight will not be able to do one standard pushup.

Imagine how difficult this would be for someone who’s carrying extra weight, especially if this person is moderately obese.

Pushups would be so difficult for very overweight people that when they realize this, it can really dampen their spirits and de-motivate them.

Once they begin lowering, typically their body will collapse and they’ll be on their knees, on all fours. They won’t even be able to lower into the down position.

This failure will go a long way to discourage many overweight men and women from exercise in general.

Another issue is potential injury to tendons in the shoulder. This exercise puts a lot of strain on shoulder tendons.

This strain is magnified if there’s a lot of weight involved, especially if the individual is poorly conditioned and new to strength training.

For achieving weight loss and increased upper body strength, focus on exercises (machine chest press, dumbbell chest press, bench press) that don’t involve any struggle to actually do.

Use enough weight to make a set difficult, but the difficulty is in moving the weight, not actually executing the movement itself.

Thus, you’ll benefit from doing bench pressing, which is far better than pushups.

Obesity will make the actual execution of a pushup difficult, vs. immediately being able to perform a bench press, dumbbell chest press or machine chest press. Shutterstock/Motortion Films

The Bench Press

You’ll be able to bench press on the first try with a light barbell. The only struggle is with moving the weight after a certain number of repetitions as you fatigue.

The heavier the barbell, the fewer the reps before you reach a point where you can’t lift it anymore—and then that completes the set.

There’s no point in struggling with pushups, risking injury.

If you’re considerably overweight and would still like to master one standard pushup, be patient and work on developing upper body strength via safer, more realistic means, such as with the bench press, horizontal chest press, as well as barbell and dumbbell chest presses.

The Dumbbell Chest Press

Credit: Everkinetics


As you develop your upper body strength via these avenues, you will get closer to being able to do a clean pushup.

Seated chest press. Think of this as a sideways pushup. Pexels, Gustavo Fring

However, you may be able to bench press a lot of weight, or push out a lot of weight on a machine, yet may still struggle with even a half pushup.

This is because this exercise involves pushing against your body weight.

And if your body mass index is in the obesity range, this will be very difficult, even if you can bench press quite a bit of weight.

Being able to do pushups will not help you lose weight faster.

It’s best to shelf this goal until you become stronger, leaner and fitter.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



Top image: Freepik.com, shurkin_son