Fitness Articles

The Push-Up Test

A DIY Fitness Assessment

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Measuring your fitness level regularly is one way to find out if you're making progress. Most fitness centers have trained staff who can evaluate your body composition, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance, but it can be pricey. If you don’t have access to all the toys and tools of your gym, don’t panic. You have everything you need to measure your fitness level in your own house!

The Push-Up Test measures muscular strength and endurance, a combination that better reflects your fitness level than strength tests like the one rep max. Besides being dangerous, single rep max tests also require a lot of equipment (bench press or squat rack, barbells, and other weights). A timed push-up test, on the other hand, can be done anywhere.

Equipment needed: A stop watch or timer that can measure one full minute; a friend to help keep count and time you (optional).

Goal: Do as many push ups as you can in one minute.

Execution: Men will assume a traditional push-up position and females can use the modified push-up position (on knees). When the push ups start, so does the clock! Press yourself up with arms fully extended and lower yourself back until your chest is three inches from the floor (but do not touch your body to the floor). Repeat as many times as you can in one minute. You may rest only in the “up” position if necessary.

What this measures: Strength and endurance in your chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Scoring: Here are the age-adjusted standards based on guidelines published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):

Ratings for Men (Full Push Ups), based on Age
   20-29  30-39  40-49  50-59  60+
 Excellent  > 54  > 44 > 39 > 34  > 29
 Good  45-54  35-44  30-39  25-34  20-29
 Average  35-44  24-34  20-29  15-24  10-19
 Poor  20-34  15-24  12-19  8-14  5-9
 Very Poor  < 20  < 15  < 12  < 8  < 5

Ratings for Women (Modified Push Ups), based on Age
  20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
Excellent >48 >39 >34 >29 >19
Good 34-48 25-39 20-34 15-29 5-19
Average 17-33 12-24 8-19 6-14 3-4
Poor 6-16 4-11 3-7 2-5 1-2
Very Poor < 6 < 4 < 3 < 2 < 1

Maybe you’ll find that you’re doing really well. But even if you weren't able to do enough reps to register on the chart, that's OK. Everyone starts somewhere! Just try to improve gradually over time from where you started. Remember, you are looking for improvement in yourself, regardless of what a chart says or how many repetitions someone else can do.

How to improve: To improve your scores in this test, focus on strength training the specific muscles of the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Good exercises that target these muscles include: How to know its working: When you're done testing, you can track your results on SparkPeople to keep track of your progress! Over time, you should be able to do more push ups in subsequent assessments. Try to retest yourself every 4-8 weeks.

This test is a great tool to see how you are doing. If you don’t score as well as you like, just remember to focus on improving your own scores periodically. As long as you are improving, your fitness plan is working. If you find you aren’t making the progress that you feel you should be seeing, it may be time to change your workout routine.

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Member Comments

  • adding to my list of things to do tomorrow
  • Pushups are not my favorite, but I have gotten better at them.
  • TRIMNUP
    I especially appreciate this point in this article: "Everyone starts somewhere! Just try to improve gradually over time from where you started. Remember, you are looking for improvement in yourself."

    That is how change happens.
  • This is a great challenge, however, one that I cannot do. I have arthritis in my thumbs and the weight would kill me. I can however, do planks, which I enjoy and are very challenging for me!! Thanks so much!!
  • 67 year old male. Can't do many pushups ... yet. I like this test enough to make it a challenge to measure every week as suggested.
  • I just took the 1 Minute Push-Up test. I am 65 years old and I did 16 in 1 minute. I will be working on increasing that number.
  • I just took the test and did 67 push ups in 1 minute. I am 57 years old, but I do exercise everyday. According to the chart, I am as physically fit as a 20 year old man in excellent condition. Makes me feel good!
  • I want to know where the double modified push ups are for those of us who weigh to much to do a push-up or can't get up and down from the ground like the wall push ups... I know it sounds bad but I'm realistic, -With the carpel tunnel and the pinched nerve in my neck-arm, I am not capable of "real" push ups. At this stage attempting the push up test would be a disaster and more than likely end up with another sprained wrist and shoulder flare up after the fifteen min confusion on how to get off of the floor. I can however do 41 wallstyle push ups and that is my starting number so we will see where i go from there.
  • How come the women have to do girl pushups. Where is the chart for women that can do full push ups?? You would think that in 2015 they would modify their standards to something less sexist. Really!
  • I'm 58 and did 35 girl push-ups. :) I now have a new goal!!
  • Of course, this is assuming your shoulders are strong enough for you to do pushups. My right shoulder would collapse before I did 2.
  • I'm 69 and I do 50 regular pushups every morning. I never paid attention to how long it took, but when I saw this, I decided to check. I did 54 pushups in one minute. The time didn't feel any different than any other day, so I would guess I do my daily 50 in about one minute.
  • I did the "girl" push ups and found I could only do 24 in 1 min...not great. I'm glad I know now though! I look forward to taking the test again next month and seeing some improvement!
  • TEXASTOPAZ15
    I was doing push ups on Sunday when I injured my shoulder! It set off what turns out to be Calcific cystic tendinitis....and with that, an end to my push up days :-(

    For the record, at almost 57, I had counted 14 before the "pop".

About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.