Can Push-Ups Replace The Bench Press? (Startling Challenge)


This is a question I get asked often. Can push-ups replace the bench press? Which exercise should you do first? Should you do push-ups or bench presses? Or both?

There are many reasons to choose either exercise over the other. Both exercises will help you build muscle mass, burn fat, increase strength, and improve cardiovascular health.

However, each exercise also comes with its pros and cons. But if you’re starting, you might as well go with the most popular choice – push-ups.

I’ve done the research and gathered heaps of information for writing this article to give you everything there is to know about this subject. So without further ado. LET’S START!

can push-ups-replace -the-bench-press

Can Push-Ups Replace the Bench Press?

The push-up can be one of the bench press alternatives.

You can use push-ups to improve your chest muscles without access to a weight rack or workout bench. Doing push-ups is a good and healthy exercise that you can include in your workout routine.

It’s one of the best bodyweight exercises. It mimics the same movement pattern as the bench press, but they’re still not a good replacement, but they’re still not a good replacement.

A push-up doesn’t work well for gaining mass compared to a bench press. Heck, you can load all the weight on the barbel that you can handle. However, a push-up is an adequate substitution if you’ve not yet built enough muscle to perform heavy bench pressing when you’re starting to work out. 

Elite lifters can’t use push-ups instead of the bench press to get bigger muscles. However, they can use the push-up for functional strength training.

What Muscles Are Involved?

The bench press and the push-up work the same muscles.

When a push-up is performed to resist as much weight as a bench press, the action is almost identical — you push resistance away using your arms. The big difference is that we perform the classic push-up in a plank position with a tight core. 

That way, we work the core and even the leg muscles during the push-up. Those muscle groups are barely used in the bench press.

The next question is whether overloading a push-up with extra weight is practical. I don’t think so. You can even get injured that way. We are not designed to perform these kinds of weighted push-ups.

Therefore we invented the classic bench press. With the bench press, we can load up the weight we can press without putting extra pressure on our (lower) back.

The only healthy solution would be using a weighted vest during the push-up. 

Resistance and Hypertrophy

Push-ups lack applicability for building maximal strength in intermediate and professional lifters because they don’t add enough external resistance. You must focus on building your muscles through heavy lifting to increase muscle size.

However, if you want to increase your muscle mass by performing push-ups instead of the bench press, you need to load them, so they’re equivalent to a hard set of six to eight reps on the bench press.

Compared to the push-up, the bench press is often considered the best exercise for developing the chest because it enables heavy loads to be placed on the upper body. Adding a few hundred pounds is easier than doing so in the push-up.

For most people, the limiting factor in the Bench Press isn’t core stability, shoulder health, or anything else. Instead, they can gain maximum strength, muscle gain, and hypertrophy.

The Benefits of the Push-Up

Push-ups are one of the most popular forms of exercise due to their versatility. They can be done almost anywhere, easily fitting into your daily routine.

Push-ups are also very convenient because they don’t require weights or special equipment. You need a flat surface upon which to perform the movement.

As far as benefits go, push-ups provide numerous health and fitness advantages. One such advantage is that they’re an excellent way to improve core strength.

You’ll want to focus on keeping your abs tight throughout the entire set when doing push-ups. To do this, try holding yourself up straight and use the muscles in your core as the stabilizer muscles throughout the push-up.

Another benefit of push-ups is that they work out your upper body, including your shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms. These areas are often neglected during workouts, but push-ups can target them.

You might find it helpful to use a bench to ensure you’re correctly targeting your chest. If you’re working out alone, you can place a bench against a wall and perform push-ups on top of it. However, if you’d like to add some variety, you could try performing push-ups on a step or a stairway.

The final advantage of push-ups is that you can adjust the difficulty level depending on how tired you feel.

For example, if you start feeling exhausted halfway through the workout, you can stop and rest for a few minutes. Resting gives your muscles a chance to recover and continue exercising later.

In the following video, you will see how to perform the perfect push-up.

The Benefits Of The Bench Press?

The bench press is one of the most effective exercises for building strength and size in the chest area. While it is considered a compound exercise, there are many variations that you can use to target specific muscles and help build a more muscular chest through muscle activation.

When performed correctly, the bench press allows you to isolate specific muscles while working other muscles simultaneously. In addition, each variation targets different parts of the chest.

For instance, flat bench presses work the middle pecs, inclined benches work the upper pecs, and decline bench presses work the lower part of the chest. You can achieve symmetry and a strong, well-defined chest by alternating between these variations throughout your workout.

With the bench press, you can quickly build great pushing strength. While push-ups can help develop upper-body strength, studies have found that bench press variants are more effective because you can progressively overload and increase resistance by increasing the weight lifted.

A quick tip: You can lift with a wider grip to shorten the range of motion of the bench press. That way, you can lift even more.

How Are Push-Ups Improving Upper Body Strength? (The Numbers)

With a regular push-up, most people lift between 50% and 75% of their body weight. It depends mainly on their weight and body shape.

If you modified this workout by doing an incline push-up or a kneeling push-up instead, you would be lifting approximately 35% to 45%.

While doing a regular push-up, you support approximately 70% of your body weight when upright and about 75% at the bottom of the push-up.

If you modified this and did the simple knee variation, the numbers would drop to lifting about 50%  of your body weight in the up position and 60% at the bottom of the push-up position.

Beginner-friendly variations include incline push-ups which place far less stress on your arms, elbows, and shoulders than traditional push-ups. However, the percentage of body weight you push during the incline or (kneeling) push-up reduces quite a bit.

How About The Band Resisted Push-Up?

The resistance band push-ups work because they require the same force as a regular push-up but add a little extra resistance at the top of each repetition. It’s like a weighted push-up.

When we compare the push-up with the bench press, this is as close as it gets. The whole range of motion becomes more similar. Still, the bench press is a clear winner regarding strength and muscle building, but doing push-ups with an elastic band is a close runner-up if you ask me.

So, if you don’t have time to go to the gym and want to squeeze in a fast, effective chest workout, perform some push-ups with resistance bands.

push ups with resistance band 1

Which Is the Best for Chest Development?

The bench press and the push-up are two movements commonly used to increase strength and size.

While the bench press is considered the king of chest exercises, many people believe push-up is just as effective. However, some differences make each movement better suited for specific goals.

In terms of pectoral muscle development, the bench press is superior because it allows for much higher loads to be applied to the chest muscles. This makes it easier to overload the pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi.

In contrast, the push-up does not allow for such high levels of external loading. Instead, it is more suitable for building muscular endurance. 

Which Is the Best for Pressing Performance?

If you want to improve your bench press performance and use the bench press as a measure of overall upper body strength, then training the bench press regularly makes sense.

In short, it’s easier and more practical to challenge your limits and improve your pressing performance by regularly doing bench press exercises.

The push-ups should be done regularly during warm-ups and accessory exercises to improve shoulder and scapular stability, midsection strength, and overall fitness.

Which Exercise is Better?

If you’re looking at chest-specific exercises, the bench press appears slightly more effective than the push-up. This is mainly because it’s easier to increase resistance than decrease it, and because of the bench, fewer stabilizing muscles are needed, so fewer stabilizing muscles are activated.

However, push-ups remain highly effective for targeting different parts of the body. You should ideally perform both push-ups and bench presses for maximum results.

That said, if I had to choose only one, it would be the bench press.


FAQ’S Corner

What Is The 1-Minute Push-Up World Record?

The 1-minute push-up record is 109 by Manipur Youth Thounaojam Niranjoy Singh.

What Is The 1-Hour Push-Up World Record?

The 1-hour push-up record is 3182 by Daniel Scali.


Push-ups aren’t just an excellent exercise for building strength and a great functional fitness exercise.

While you won’t build muscle mass as you would with a bench press, you will develop core strength. And having a strong core is a good base for being fit.

Plus, push-ups require very little equipment, so they’re easy to incorporate into your workout routine without worrying about breaking the bank.

So push-ups are a great option for you, whether you want to tone up, bulk up, or improve your overall fitness level!

That being said, bench presses aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

They are still the better muscle and strength builder of the two. But if you want to add push-ups to your routine, go right ahead. They’re a great alternative to the bench press.

Plus, if you have any shoulder problems, push-ups will healthily build shoulder muscles too. (I’m living proof of that). And since they’re such a basic movement, you can use them anywhere—at home, the gym, or even outside.

Try them today and see if you agree with me!

Tell me. Are you a push-up or a bench press guy? Or both?

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.