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In my twenties my ratio of push-ups to pull-ups was about 4:1 (120 to 30), now, at 64, about 2:1 (35 to 19). I plan on improving that over time. I had a long period in my middle years of being a workaholic and neglecting my fitness. Dragging myself back over the last five years or so. Push-ups feel easy for the first 10-15 then start to drag. Pull-ups I just seem be be able to crank them out. Perhaps because I can add weight to the pull-ups easily for practice. So what is the standard on How many push ups equal one pull up?

How many push ups equal one pull up?

A standard push up is much easier than the standard pull up. The push up exercises muscles of the chest, arms and shoulder. The standard variation is done lying in a prone position with body weight supported by the toes and the hands. So compared to the pull up one has to carry less weight in the push up.

How many push ups equal one pull up

The pull up is practically much more difficult as it requires one to carry the entire body weight. The muscles of the back,shoulders and arms are exercised in the pull up. However the back muscle Lattismuss Dorsi is the main player for the pull up.

It is this muscle which does about 80 per cent of the work in pull ups. The push up on the other hand has a very minimal effect on the back muscle.

You would have to do an insanely large number of pushups in order to build the strength for a single pull up assuming that you have never done a pull up and are relying solely on push ups to train.

Technically there is only one common muscle group that contribute significantly to both exercises ie. Deltoids. Here too push ups work the anterior Deltoids whereas pull ups work the posterior Deltoids.

Now suppose one does both pull ups and push ups with equal emphasis it would take more energy to crank out reps in pull ups. This is simply because you are lifting your whole body up and there’s just too much weight. Now that being said pull ups are one of the best body weight exercises to build up strength. Even push ups are hard if we try out the different variations.

So I feel both exercises are just unique in their own way. But if you were to ask this question to a shaolin monk he would probably say

Push up and Pull up Strength Imbalance – How many push ups equal one pull up

How many push ups equal one pull up? A strength imbalance is when you are stronger in one movement than you are in its opposing movement. If you are stronger with pressing exercises, such as pushups, than you are in pulling exercises, you have a strength imbalance. Strength imbalances can cause you to reach a strength plateau in which you cease to improve, and can lead to overuse injuries if left uncorrected.

Muscles Trained by Push ups and Pull ups

Pushups are pushing exercises. The primary muscles trained are the pectoralis major of your chest. Your deltoids and triceps also contribute to the movement. Your core muscles work to stabilize your body throughout the movement. Pull ups, on the other hand, are a pulling exercise. They primarily train the latissimus dorsi, the large muscles of your back. The biceps and other muscles that work to flex your elbow are also involved, as well as your core and other stabilizing muscles.

Strength Imbalance

Your muscles pull on your bones in order to create movement. Your pectoral muscles pull your upper arm bones forward, while your latissimus dorsi muscles pull them back. When these opposing sets of muscles are in balance, your shoulder joints receive equal amounts of tension. When one set of muscles is stronger than the other, the tension is unequal. At rest, the stronger muscles are shorter than they should be, and the weaker muscles are overstretched. This can lead to postural problems or uneven wear on your neck and shoulders.

Strength Imbalance

Consequences of Strength Imbalance

You are more likely to be stronger in pushups or the bench press than in pull ups, so the more common strength imbalances result in shortened pectoral muscles. When these muscles are shortened at rest, they pull your shoulders forward, and rotate the bones of your upper arms inward. This tilts your head forward. In compensation, you begin holding your neck forward and bent upward. The muscles that retract your shoulder blades, the rhomboids, are lengthened at rest, which can lead to shoulder tendinitis.

Correcting and Preventing Strength Imbalances

Performing an equal volume of pull ups and pushups is the simplest way to prevent a strength imbalance. You move 70 percent of your body weight in a pushup, as opposed to your full weight with a pull up, so a ratio of three pushups for every one pull up is often sufficient. It is also important to move through a pull ups full range of motion. Continuing to pull until your chest touches the bar will fully contract your latissimus dorsi and rhomboids, and fully stretch the pectoral muscles.

The Antagonist Muscles in a Pull up

How many push ups equal one pull up? You can design a more balanced workout regimen by identifying the antagonistic muscles for individual exercises. Antagonistic muscle groups move the same joint in opposite directions. Pull up antagonists tend to lengthen as the primary movers shorten during the exercise movement. Pull up antagonist muscles specifically move your shoulders and shoulder blades in the opposite direction of the joint movements that occur while performing pull ups.

The Antagonist Muscles in a Pull up


The lateral and anterior deltoids, or side and front delts, are antagonists during shoulder adduction, which occurs while performing pull ups. Shoulder adduction is a medial movement of the shoulder joint toward the midline of your body. Your shoulders adduct as your upper arms move down toward the sides of your body during a pull up. The lateral and anterior deltoids are pull up antagonists because they abduct your shoulders, which is the opposite joint movement that occurs during pull ups.



The middle and lower fibers of the trapezius extend from your cervical and thorasic segments of your spine to your shoulder blades. Pull ups involve downward rotation of the scapula, which occurs as the inferior angle of the shoulder blades rotates medially and downward. The middle and lower trapezius are pull up antagonists that contract during the opposite joint movement, upward rotation of the scapula. Shoulder presses are an example of upward rotation exercises that activate the middle and lower trapezius.



The supraspinatus muscle is one of the four rotator cuff muscles. It stabilizes your the upper arms by holding the top of the humerus, your longer upper arm bone, in place. The supraspinatus is a pull up antagonist, because it is also responsible for abducting your shoulders, which is the opposite movement that occurs during pull ups. Lateral raises with dumbbells or cable pulley machines are examples of exercises that involve shoulder abduction, and activate the supraspinatus muscle.


Serratus Anterior

The serratus anterior muscle extends from your upper nine ribs at the sides of your chest to the medial border of each shoulder blade. Activities that draw the shoulder blades forward, such as pushups and bench press exercises, significantly activate the serratus anterior. The serratus is a pull up antagonist that works with the middle and lower trapezius to rotate your shoulder blades upward, which occurs as you reach your arms straight up during exercises, such as shoulder and military presses.

Serratus Anterior

A Push Up & Pull Up Workout

Push-ups and pull-ups are fundamental movements that often get overlooked when strength training because of their simplicity. However, they are one of the best ways to stay fit while you travel or when you’re crunched for time and can’t make the gym. Each exercise can be changed and tweaked to challenge even the most seasoned exercise enthusiasts.

A Push Up & Pull Up Workout

Known as compound movements, push-ups and pull-ups recruit multiple muscle groups at once — and the more muscle groups you work at one time, the more calories you’ll burn. These are exercises that should be a part of any training regimen, as they help you build a stronger back, chest, arms, shoulders, and core.

How to Do a Proper Push Up

There is no better way to build a bigger chest, stronger shoulders and more defined arms than push-ups.

Depending on the width of your hands, push-ups will either target more of your chest or triceps. The farther your hands are from your body, the more of you use your chest muscles. The closer your hands are to your chest, the more you’ll use your triceps to push your body weight up from the ground.

Push-ups are performed by placing your hands under your shoulders with your legs behind you, in the same position as a plank. For proper push-ups, maintain a straight back, and then slowly bend your elbows until your chest touches or slightly hovers over the ground.

Your arms should stay at a 90-degree angle as you lower your chest to the ground. Once reach the bottom of the exercise, push your body back up until your arms are fully extended. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.

Make your push-ups more difficult by adding a weight plate on your back as you perform the exercise.

Doing a Pull Up

Pull-ups build more than strength in your back. They also require a great deal of strength from your arms, core and shoulders, as well. Often skipped by many weight lifting enthusiasts, pull-ups can help you build a more defined and stronger back.

Doing a Pull Up

To execute a pull-up, find an overhead bar and grab the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip.

Your starting position begins with your body in a fully hanging position. To begin the first step of the pull-up, squeeze your core and engage your glutes, as this helps provide an all-around stable area of muscle tension for your back muscles. This will help make your pull-up easier.

Then, start the motion by pulling your shoulder blades down, as if they’re going into your back pocket, bending your elbows and pull your chest towards the bar. Once your chest meets the bar or your head is above the bar, hold the position for 1-2 seconds.

Then slowly allow your body to return to the full hanging position. Perform three sets of 8-12 reps.

Keep It Fresh with Variations – How many push ups equal one pull up

Push-ups and pull-ups may not sound as exciting as lifting a heavy barbell or dumbbell. With a few tweaks to these exercises, however, you can challenge your body and muscles in different ways. Changing the position of your hands can change which muscles are targeted or force other stabilizer muscles to work harder.

If you’re tired of the same standard push-up, you can change the angle at which you perform the exercise and do a decline push-up. To perform this exercise, place your feet on an elevated surface. Place your hands in the normal position for a push-up and get into the normal push-up position with your legs extended and elevated behind you. Then, like a regular push-up, lower your body until your chest touches the floor. Then push your body back to the starting position.

Pull-ups can be changed by taking a wider grip on the pull-up bar. Or, you can modify the pull-up and hit more of your biceps by performing a chin-up. Like the pull-up, the movement for the chin-up is the same. The only difference is that now the palms of your hands are facing toward you and your grip is slightly more narrow than shoulder width.

Strength-Building Workout

How many push ups equal one pull up? One of the best ways to train both push-ups and pull-ups is to combine them into a circuit workout. For a circuit workout, you’ll perform both exercises without resting between each and only resting at the end of the last rep for less than 60 seconds.

For instance, your circuit might require you to perform 10 reps of push-ups, followed by 10 reps of pull-ups. Once you’ve finished the last rep of the pull-ups, rest for 60 seconds or less. You can set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes and see how many rounds you can complete before the timer goes off.

Pick three variations of these exercises and perform three sets of 10 reps of each variation. That workout would look something like this:

  1. Push-ups: three sets of eight to 10 reps
  2. Pull-ups: three sets of eight to 10 reps
  3. Tricep push-ups (bring your hand together to form a diamond directly underneath your chest): three sets of eight to 10 reps
  4. Chin-ups: three sets of eight to 10 reps
  5. Decline push-ups: three sets of eight to 10 reps
  6. Wide-grip pull-ups: three sets of eight to 10 reps

How To Master The Pull-Up – One Of The Toughest Body weight Moves There Is

Pull Ups vs. Push Ups

Every time we think of fitness it’s hard not to think of pull ups and push ups as measures of strength. While there is some truth to that, we consider strength to reflect how well you can function in the real world. So we exercise your body the way it was designed to operate. Very seldom when you’re walking through life will you be forced to drop down and knock out 50 push ups or jump up and pull yourself up 20 times. While a push up or pull up can be useful for certain life adventures, if you’re prioritizing these movements as foundations of your workout routine then you could potentially be creating poor muscle function for walking, running, and throwing.

The human body is connected through a web of fascia that houses multiple muscles, these muscles all work in harmony to facilitate movement, specifically walking, running, and throwing. Since walking is a fundamental movement for humans, it’s important to train our body for the purpose of enhancing our gait cycle. In other words the muscle contractions that are utilized during a traditional pull up and push up don’t train the muscles to help us walk, run, or throw more efficiently. Since majority of us walk on a daily basis it would make sense to get better at this fundamental movement. In fact, during a pull up the lats pull downward towards the glutes and through repetition this trains the muscles to pull downward through day to day function. This can cause compression of the lower back muscles and lead to pain and stiffness when you’re walking, exercising, or just moving through the day.

On another note, if you’re constantly bombarding your chest with push ups because you believe it’s a more functional movement than a bench press, that’s not the case. You have to think of the function that your pecs are performing during the gait cycle. The pecs play a huge role in shoulder health, especially during throwing or punching movements, and they also work with your obliques to rotate the trunk, whether you’re walking, running, or throwing. So in the case of both, the pushup and bench press, the pecs are working through a movement that they weren’t designed to do. The lack of trunk rotation leaves the obliques out of the picture and places more strain on the shoulder because you’re isolating more of the force to the pec muscle and using the shoulder joint as a lever. Hello, joint pain. Additionally both exercises are training the pec muscles to cave the chest inward and exacerbate kyphotic posture, aka that hunched over look, like you’ve been sitting behind a computer desk all day. If your goal is to workout for enhanced function then pull ups and push ups aren’t the best option.

We have to consider what true function on a human looks like, which is the ability to primarily walk, run, and throw without pain. In order to do that, the lats and pecs have to have a reciprocal relationship, meaning if your left lat is engaging your right pec should be engaging at the same time. Our lats are meant to help rotate the rib cage and elevate the scapula to allow the rib cage to lift off of the lumbar spine, resulting in spinal decompression and enhanced trunk rotation. If we train the lats to pull downward, like during pull-ups, this leads to compression of our lumbar spine and the inability to rotate our torso. Our pecs are also meant to rotate the trunk and engage through a horizontal force rather than a vertical force transmission, like whipping us forward when we run instead of the up and down of a push up. So one of the keys to better movement is the ability to properly rotate your trunk when you move, so if your exercises don’t account for this fact then you’re limiting your functional potential in the long run.

If you observe the human gait cycle (walking, running, throwing) you will see how the legs move forward and backward as the torso rotates to counter the motion of the legs and help propel the arms back and forth. If you want to restore function to your body and have it perform well in any scenario then you should prioritize exercises that mirror the patterns of the human gait cycle. Exercises that engage the muscles the way they connect during the gait cycle will have the biggest carry over to how well you can move in life outside of the gym. Since the gait cycle is a fundamental movement, once it is wired in correctly, other movements are enhanced automatically.

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Pull up Vs. Chin up

Pull ups are notorious for being one of the most difficult body weight movements, providing an intense challenge regardless of strength levels. Challenge aside, the pull up puts a huge emphasis on major muscles in the upper back like the lats. Build these guys up and you’re on your way to a wider torso and impressive physique. With so many variations, it’s hard to find out which one is best for your routine and individual goals. We broke down the two most popular variations—the pull up and chin up—and highlighted their differences in form and muscle activation.

The overhand vs. underhand debate

Pull ups, done with both hands in an overhand (or prone) grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, prove to be the most difficult of the pair. The wide grip isolates your lats, taking away much of the emphasis from the biceps. The underhand alternative—chin ups—receives high praise as both a bicep- and back-builder. By utilizing a supinated grip, the chin up utilizes more of the bicep than its wider-grip counterpart. Since more accessory moves are involved to pull the body over the bar, lifters may find that this variation is easier in comparison. Although it still targets the upper back, lifters may have a hard time isolating and engaging their lats during the motion.

Outside of hand position, both pull ups and chin ups may prove to be trying for many guys simply due to lack of flexibility. Since many lifters spend their day hunched forward in front of a computer, they tend to exhibit a rolled-forward posture—not the best for getting your chin over the bar. According to Dean Somerset, C.S.C.S., “with the back rounded forward the shoulders can’t pull back and down as easily, which makes engaging the lats a hard goal to shoot for, and as a result to complete the movement the biceps have to get the job done on their own.” Lifters may have a more difficult time during the chin up as the hands have to be externally rotated to fully grab the bar. To alleviate this problem and improve performance on both variations, perform some soft tissue work on the chest prior to starting a workout. Also, direct your attention to pinning the shoulders down and back to engage the lats.

Programming for pull ups

To build your back plus increase your relative strength (strength relative to body weight), incorporate both pull ups and chin ups into your routine multiple times throughout the week. They’re great for strength but also as a warm-up exercise prior to a lifting session. Rather than utilizing momentum to power yourself over the bar, keep your form strict to see immediate improvements in strength. Somerset acknowledges that momentum is a key reason many guys aren’t getting stronger.

“There’s a big difference between doing a kipping pull up, which involves a leg whip, and a jerking motion that some people do in their pull ups. Focusing on having the strength to do as many reps as possible, and not bombing away with bouncing or jerking to simply complete reps will help a lot of people see improvements,” he says. Improve your upper-back strength by incorporating these workouts that hit both strength and volume into your routine.


Perform the following lift (either chin up or pull up) at the beginning of your routine or secondary to a main lower-body lift like squats or dead lifts. Allow at least two days in between sessions for your upper body to recover.

Week 1:

Day 1: Pull up, sets: 3; reps: 5 (weighted if necessary)
Day 2: Chin ups, sets: 3; reps: 8-10
Day 3: Pull up, pyramid – 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 (Start with two reps. Rest 45-60 seconds before doing four reps. Continue with six, eight, and 10 before attempting to go back down. Make it as far as possible with good form.)

Week 2:

Day 1: Pull up, sets: 3; reps: 5 (weighted if necessary)
Day 2: Chin ups, sets: 3; reps: 8-10
Day 3: Pull up, pyramid – 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 (Attempt to make it farther than the previous week.)

Week 3:

Day 1: Pull up, sets: 4; reps: 5 (weighted if necessary)
Day 2: Chin ups, sets: 4; reps: 8-10
Day 3: Pull up, pyramid – 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 (Attempt to make it farther than the previous week.)

Week 4:

Day 1: Pull up, sets: 4; reps: 5 (weighted if necessary)
Day 2: Chin ups, sets: 4; reps: 8-10
Day 3: Pull up, pyramid – 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 (Attempt to make it farther than the previous week.)

Related Sources

Chest muscles [ edit ] The push up requires the work of many muscle groups, with one of the primary muscle groups being the chest muscles, the pectoralis major and the minor . [6] These are the two large chest muscles and the main pushing muscle group of the upper body. (

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I’ve started a workout program and my birthday next March will be about the same time that the teams meet up for their annual get together. (

I’ll warm up with two sets of 5 pull-ups with no extra weight, and then do 3 sets of 5 weighted pull-ups. (

Keep in mind that military candidates likely have some physical training under their belt and will probably perform better than the average Joe or Jane. (

Whether it’s lack of strength or too much body mass, you should choose a variation that allows you to have great form while getting stronger. (

As soon as you’re doing bodyweight rows where your body is at a 45-degree angle or lower, you can progress to the next level. (

We know CrossFitters use the kip to get more pull-ups in a short amount of time. (

Clap push up This is the most challenging type of push up and it is suitable for people with an advanced fitness level. (

For instance, 20 push ups will take about 1 minute. (

On average, by performing modified push ups for one minute, an individual can burn less than 10 calories ( 3 ). (

Many of the push-up variations can be done using one arm instead of two. (

Mistake #5: You use violent kipping motions to do your pull-ups or chin-ups. (

To check your form, simply record a video of yourself doing your pull-up variation and match it against the gifs and videos here. (

With your grip further out, it’ll require even MORE strengthen from your back (remember our pull-up vs. (

If you’re trying to improve your grip strength , try utilizing a couple of towels for your pull-ups. (

You’ll build lots of strength in your hands as you grasp the towels during the movement. #5) L-Sit Pull-ups Raise your legs straight in front during your pull-up. (

For push-ups, it increased from 4.1 calories per minute to 8.56 calories per minute. (

Curl-ups increased from 4.09 calories per minute to 7.29; lunges from 5.28 calories per minute to 9.33; and pull-ups from 4.03 calories per minute to 9.95. (

Age, sex, amounts of daily activity, body size and composition, pregnancy, breastfeeding and more – all these factors influence your daily calorie burn ( 2 ). (

Shutterstock You already know that there are a bunch of factors that influence your calorie burn . (

It was mentioned before that push up isn’t a be-all and end-all calorie-burning exercise. (

Calorie intake plays a prominent role in effective weight loss. (

What are the best push ups for weight loss? (

Level 4 Pull-Up Workout: Negative Pull-Ups Our next level on our path for a pull-up is what we call “negative pull-ups.” Grab onto the bar with an overhand grip Jump so your chest is touching Slowly lower yourself under control until you’re at the bottom of the movement. (

To complete a jumping/negative pull up: Stand with a pull up bar directly above you. (

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If you want more specific instructions on any of these levels or movements, check out our guide “ Get Your First Pull-up ” for more . (

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. (

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However, because you keep your body in a plank position, you also engage some your abs, buttocks, leg and lower back muscles and more. (

Get in a high plank position, so that you balance on your toes and hands. (

Level 3 Pull-Up Workout: Assisted Pull-Ups At this point, you are going to start actually doing pull-ups…with a little bit of assistance. (

We’ve got a few options for you. #1) Assisted Pull-ups with Chair Either one foot or two on the chair, depending on your needs. (

Put your foot in the exercise band and pull yourself up. #3) Assisted Pull-Ups with a Partner Have a friend hold your feet behind you and help you complete each rep. (

Benefits Both push-ups and pull-ups are low impact, so you can train often, with shorter periods of rest, as compared to when you train with heavy weights. (

A chin over the bar is a chin-up – we aren’t trying to take away your chin-up if you aren’t getting your chest to the bar. (

These are known as “planche push-ups”. (

After that I spent the next couple months training my fake planche as well as Fake Full Planche Pushups. (

How many push ups equal one pull up