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Fitness Articles  ›  SparkPeople Workouts

The Push-Up Test

A DIY Fitness Assessment

-- By Jason Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer
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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

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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.

Member Comments

  • JEHOHANAN
    To all of the ladies who are dissapointed about the push up protocol you must recognize that the physiologies of the two sexes differ there's just no way around that. I'm not sure that I recall correctly but the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) and/or the US Army indicates a male advantage of 20%aerobic and 25% anerobic. This is after Basic training during which the females considerably closed the gap that existed at recruitment level. Just google this, Gender Differences in Physical Fitness of Military Recruits .
    Personaly I managed 31 push ups which is excellent for my 75 years. It wasn't that long ago (seems like yesterday) that I could do that on either hand. Since then I have aquired osteoarthritis and it's not gonna get any better. Over the past 12 to 15 years I have lost 25kg of muscle mass mostly in the upper body. When I was 50 I was drawing a 100 lb Longbow 400 times a session now I cannot get between the bow, any bow and it's string at all. I'm still fitness concious however and life goes on hopefully with a laugh or two.

    - 4/17/2014 12:30:35 AM
  • Good ideas. Thanks - 1/18/2014 6:32:41 AM
  • 17 and I'm 30. Not the best but better than I'd have guessed. Going to work up to average for my age at least. - 1/3/2014 3:29:13 PM
  • As Gomer Pyle said "Surprise, Surprise" I found out that I am in the GOOD range!! - 12/30/2013 11:25:40 AM
  • How sad is the world.....I can't do one. LOL Well, only one way to go from here right? Up!! - 12/29/2013 1:10:18 PM
  • Wow, in this case I am glad to be average!!
    - 11/13/2013 5:11:37 PM
  • For all the ladies mad about the charts - these are pretty close to the charts we were rated on in the military doing regular push ups not modified ones. So go ahead and use those charts for the regular pushups to determine how well you do push ups. I think maxed out push ups for women (it's been a few years since I got out) was around the mid 40s. - 11/7/2013 6:39:32 PM
  • JUDGEBOB
    LOL at all the mad women after reading this article. The truth is most women can't do real pushups. Sorry that you are mad at statistics. There are still lots of women that can do pushups but the article is showing the truth that most can't and if they can it is a low amount unless they are modified. Don't be offended by reality and if you are a woman and can do a lot of pushups congratulations. You are a lot stronger than the average woman. That doesn't mean the article is sexiest because you can lol.

    On the second point of a few women there is plenty of guys who can't do a pushup. Yes this is definitely true but in comparison to women its not even close. Sorry gals this isn't something to be offended about. - 10/2/2013 11:16:20 PM
  • Thanks for sharing - 9/25/2013 7:08:47 AM
  • we need a chart for women at regular push ups and modified for men ... seriously many many women can do regular ones and many men can't. - 8/29/2013 11:07:38 AM
  • The pushup chart is useless to women who do traditional pushups. Why can't we have both charts for both sexes? Please stop assuming women can't do real pushups!
    - 8/22/2013 10:05:23 AM
  • BRODIE_BROCK
    Just set my new record of 67 legit (trainer observed) push ups in one min at 52 years of age. Not certain how much higher I can go, but will try again at next months fitness testing - 6/25/2013 8:47:33 PM
  • I'd very much like to do this, and plan to, but would like to point out that the only thing coming up for "push" in the fitness tracker is Pushing a Lawnmower... - 6/2/2013 5:33:59 PM
  • CRAIGIOW
    The most I've ever done straight off is 130,I currently do 310 press ups 3 times a week, first set of 100, three more sets of 50 and to finish with a set of 60 - 5/15/2013 3:27:26 PM
  • BRODIE_BROCK
    I did 59 last week and I'm 52. Broke my previous record of 55. - 4/29/2013 6:38:21 PM
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