Pushups are a staple exercise in many workout routines and there is good reason for this. Pushups predominantly work your pectoral muscles but they also work your triceps, shoulders and even abdominal muscles to some extent. One of the great benefits of pushups is that they can be performed almost anywhere as they don’t require any special equipment. This means that you don’t need that expensive gym membership or oversized bench press taking up valuable space in your garage; all you need is your own body (which hopefully you already have!). However, with pushups being predominantly an endurance exercise, you might have wondered; do pushups build muscle or not?
Do Pushups Build Muscle?
The quick answer to this question is ‘Yes, of course they do’. Any exercise performed on a regular basis that puts strain on your muscles is going to lead to at least some increase in muscle mass and not to mention, muscle toning. Pushups will constantly tear those muscle fibres and when the body builds them back up, you will see an increase in muscle mass.
One thing to remember about pushups is that they use your body weight as resistance. If you weigh 180lbs, you are essentially going to be lifting no more than 180lbs. When performing other exercises that predominantly work your pectoral muscles such as bench presses, dumbbell presses etc, you can regularly increase the weight you’re lifting with ease.
It is this increase in the weight that will build muscle mass. When you work your pectoral muscles regularly, they will get stronger and thus, you will find it easier and easier to keep lifting these weights. In order to build muscle, your body needs to be constantly challenged with increased weight.
Let’s say that you bench press 150lbs and you can easily manage 8 – 10 reps for 3 – 4 sets. If this is the case, your body is thinking “No problem, we do this all the time, I can handle this!” and because of this, there is no reason for your body to increase muscle mass. Now, let’s say that you can bench press 150lbs but you constantly increase the amount you lift each week by 5lbs. Each week your body is going to think “Holy crap! This is heavier than last week, I’m going to need to build more muscle if I’m going to be lifting this much from now on”.
Ok, so your body can’t actually speak and doesn’t have a mind of its own, but you get the picture. As you challenge your body with heavier weights, it will build muscle.
Why Pushups Might Not Build Muscle Mass
As we mentioned above, it is this constant increase in weight that will force your pectoral muscles to increase in mass. This is where the problem comes with pushups. Like we said, you are only ever going to be lifting your body weight and therefore your body will eventually get used to the amount its lifting meaning muscle gain will be slow and minimal.
So what can you do about this? Join a gym? Forget pushups altogether and go out and buy an oversized bench press machine? Well, you could, but there are other options.
Why You Should Perform Pushups To Increase Muscle Mass
Pushups are an extremely good exercise as we mentioned at the beginning of this article. Not only do they workout a number of different muscle groups at the same time, but they are also extremely natural and don’t force your body into unnatural positions like a lot of the gym equipment you might be using can often do.
Pushups should definitely be incorporated into your workout routine and they are particularly good as a warmup exercise. However, if you want to use pushups to really gain some muscle mass, here are a few tips that you might want to consider.
Add weight to your pushups:
Grab a backpack and any free-weight’s you have lying around the house and you have a great way to make pushups more challenging. Fill the backpack with a few free-weight’s, put it on and try some pushups again. You will now be lifting more than your body weight so your muscles will be under increased pressure. Add more weights to the backpack regularly and you will see much better results.
Try different pushup variations:
There are a lot of different variations when it comes to pushups and some of these are going to be harder than the standard pushups. Try facing the wall and doing some incline pushups or if you’re really feeling adventurous, try some decline pushups. Variation is always key when creating a good workout routine.
Do less reps with increased weight:
If you have gone for the backpack option, make it extremely challenging. If you’re used to performing 15 reps for 3 – 4 rounds, increase the weight and try performing just 6 – 8 reps for 3 – 4 rounds. Everyone’s body is different but usually, this will be a good way to increase mass if that is your primary goal.