Push Ups for Overweight – Modified Push Ups for Obese (2023)


Today’s question. Can an overweight person do push-ups? Do you struggle with push-ups? Are you afraid you won’t make it past the first rep?

Most people assume that only skinny people can do push-ups, but most overweight people can do push-ups without any problem whatsoever.

If you’re an overweight person who wants to get fit, then you don’t need to worry about being embarrassed or ashamed. You don’t need to try to hide from others. All you need to do is find a way to motivate yourself to work out.

I’ve got a simple solution for motivating overweight people to work out and become push-up experts. It doesn’t require expensive equipment or fancy classes. It only requires willpower and determination. And that is what I will teach you in this article.

Can an Overweight Person Do Push-Ups?

Most overweight people can do push-up exercises without any trouble at all. Overweight people who want to get into shape can do push-ups just fine. But how many overweight men do you see doing push-ups?

You’ll not see many overweight men drop down to the floor and start doing push-ups for various reasons. Too many obese men and women are ashamed to perform these exercises in front of others. Mostly it has nothing to do with a lack of strength or willpower.

However, they shouldn’t be though, everybody in the gym minds their own business, and most people are willing to help and support you.

Make your plan, start your fitness journey, and be on your way to a healthier, stronger, and happier YOU! Start slow if it’s hard for you to do a couple of push-ups initially. And please, don’t worry about what others might think.

Furthermore, I will also show you how you can “cheat” a bit, so we can make the push-up easier for you initially. Let’s first talk about possible things that prevent us from doing proper push-ups. As you’ll see, there are more reasons than just being overweight.


Why Can’t I Do Proper Push-Ups?

Some people find push-ups difficult because they’re unfamiliar with them. Many people struggle with this strength exercise. There are several reasons why people may be challenged by performing push-ups. These include joint pain, weakness, and lack of training.

You may need to be patient if you’re struggling with push-ups. There are several ways to improve your technique, but there are also alternatives for strengthening your chest.

Let’s look at what can hold us back from doing ”the good old” push-up.

1- Incorrect Form

Push-ups are one of the most basic movements in exercise and physical therapy. They require no equipment, and they build strength quickly. But there are many ways to do a push-up incorrectly, making it challenging to perform correctly.

Incorrectly performed push-ups can lead to injury because the body cannot fully engage the muscles needed to support the weight. This leads to muscle fatigue and pain.

It would help if you kept your hands slightly wider than your shoulders when doing a proper push-up. Your arms should be bent at a 45-degree angle with your torso at the bottom of the movement. Keep your abs tight by pulling your belly button towards your spine.

You will notice that the push-up will seem simpler to perform by not concentrating only on putting tension on your arms but on your legs and core. Also, make sure that the position of your head is correct.

As a trick, remember to keep your ears in line with your shoulder during the push-up.

2- Joint and Tendon Problems

These I’m pretty familiar with.

Osteoarthritis, tendonitis, and joint injuries to the wrists, elbows, and shoulders can sometimes lead to problems doing push-ups.

In these cases, it’s better not to work through the discomfort and let your body heal naturally. Resting the injured area for several days and taking an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen might help ease the pain. Ice packs or heating pads can also provide relief. 

However, if the problem persists or becomes worse, there are options. I suggest trying exercises that target the muscles around the affected joints, such as the triceps extension machine, lateral raise machine, or cable cross trainer.

These movements mimic the motions used during push-ups. You can also try strengthening your core muscles to improve stability and strength throughout your body.

A couple of years ago, I had to get used to working out with a bad shoulder, and push-up was one of the exercises I had to learn from scratch again. After a while, I was able to perform proper push-ups again. 


3- You don’t control your breathing

It’s a common problem for lots of people. They forget to breathe during exercise. Don’t make this mistake when doing push-ups. Controlled breathing helps you move smoothly. Letting your breath guide your movements enables you to move easily.

4- You don’t use your leg muscles

If you focus too much on arm muscles, it may be hard for you to perform push-ups. To do push-ups correctly, you must use your entire body — including your arms, core, legs, and back muscles. If any of these muscle groups are weak, it may be difficult for you to perform push-ups.

5- You are not keeping your midsection straight

The human body is built up differently depending on what we do daily. We spend most of our lives sitting down, and it takes some effort to maintain good posture throughout the day.

Many people are unaware of how much strain their bodies are under while working out, which can lead to injuries. In addition, poor posture causes stress on the spine, which leads to problems like lower back pain.

When doing push-ups, it is crucial to keep your core section straight. This helps to avoid putting pressure on your lower back, which could cause injury, and keeps your body in a proper alignment. 

A great core strengthening exercise is “the plank.”

6- Consider Weight Distribution

Push-ups are often recommended as a workout routine for losing fat, especially around the midsection. But there’s a possibility that you’re too heavy to do one properly.

In some cases of morbid obesity, where people weigh hundreds of pounds, holding up their body weight while pushing up and down may put undue strain on their joints. This may lead to pain or injury.

People with abundant abdominal fat may find push-ups difficult because their bodies don’t allow them to keep their backs flat and their abdominals contracted.

The distribution of excess weight in their belly may make their backs bent so that their push-up doesn’t offer any benefits.

In these extremer cases, it’s wise to first lose some excessive weight with light cardio and diet and work on the arm and chest muscles with dumbbell exercises.

Beginner Push-Ups Tips (How To Do a Push-Up When You’re Fat)

To perform a full push-up, you must develop upper body and core strength, especially when you’re overweight. You will most likely fail if you jump into doing push-ups without any prior strength training experience.

– The vertical Push-up explained

The vertical push-up is also known as the wall push-up.

Start by doing vertical wall push-ups, and as you improve your strength, try to lower the incline of your push-up until you can do a horizontal floor push-up.

Add some additional exercises to your routine to improve your push-up ability. Performing the plank and doing chest and triceps exercises will strengthen your core and upper body.

Another little trick that might help you get better at performing push-ups is leaning on your knees instead of your toes during the push-up

– The modified Push-Up explained

Push-ups are among the best exercises to lose weight and get stronger. It doesn’t have to be as bad as you think.

It may be hard to do push-ups when you’re overweight, but you can modify the exercise to make it easier.

If you want to make push-ups easier, you could stand up with your arms pressed against a wall instead of the floor. You can also try doing push-ups on the floor, but with your knees against the floor.

Even the modified push-ups will work every muscle in your body and will help strengthen your core. 

man-performing-the plank

You don’t need to struggle with push-ups if you’re not willing to risk injury.

If you’re significantly overweight, you should focus on losing weight before learning one standard push-up.

However, if you want to know one standard push-up, you could start by doing some safe exercises to build up your upper body strength, such as the barbell and dumbbell bench press, horizontal chest presses, etc.


If you think you are too heavy for push-ups, don’t worry—you can still do them. Just remember to use proper push-up form and technique to build strength without putting undue stress on your joints.

And if you can’t even do one push-up, don’t despair—there are many exercises you can do to strengthen your core muscles and improve your overall balance, as described in this article, even if you’re overweight. Start slow and work your way up until you can perform several push-ups efficiently.

I used to do (and sometimes still do) the modified push-up for years. That way, I don’t put too much strain on my bad shoulder and feel more comfortable.

How many push-ups can you perform properly?

Please let me know in the comment section below.

Stay Healthy and Strong!

Meet Ezra, a former model and actor turned founder of GymTrends365. His no-BS approach to fitness helps men over 40 achieve their best shape. Ezra believes in empowering individuals to take control of their health and fitness through practical, sustainable methods. At GymTrends365, he's committed to providing the resources and support necessary to help everyone achieve their fitness goals.