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Pushup Fitness Test

If you're starting an exercise program, it's a good idea to establish a few baseline measurements so you can track your progress and make sure you're getting results. Taking your measurements, charting your resting heart rate and/or getting your body fat tested are good places to start, but what about your fitness?

Fitness tests are a great way to measure where you are and the pushup test is a favorite of personal trainers because it's a simple way to measure your endurance and upper body strength. Pushups involve almost all the muscles of your upper body, including the chest, shoulders and triceps with the abs and back working as stabilizers. 

How to Do the Pushup Test

Take the test to establish a baseline for muscular endurance and upper body strength. Once you've gotten your score, take the test again every 4-6 weeks to track your progress. By adding pushups to your regular workout routine and working on your upper body strength, you can increase the number of pushups you can do over time.  If you're not able to do the pushups described below, try a modified version and keep track of how many you can do with good form, working to improve on that number and working your way up to the more advanced versions.

  1. Begin with 5-10 minutes of cardio to warm up the muscles
  2. For men: Get into a pushup position on the hands and toes. The hands should be about shoulder-width apart, back straight and the head up.
  3. For women: Get into a pushup position on the hands and knees. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart and your back should be straight with your head lifted.
  4. Lower into a pushup, bending the elbows and lowering down until the chin touches the mat. Your back should be straight and stiff throughout the movement and your belly should not touch the mat.
  5. Push up to a straight arm position.
  6. Continue doing as many pushups as you can with good form at a consistent pace.
  7. Stop the test when you're straining or if your form is slipping.
  8. Use the table below to find your score, which is based on the number of pushups you can do consecutively without rest.

Table: Pushup Fitness Test Results

Women Age 20-29 Age 30-39 Age 40-49 Age 50-59 Age 60-69

Excellent 30 27 24 21 17
Very Good 21-29 20-26 15-23 11-20 12-16
Good 15-20 13-19 11-14 7-10 5-11
Fair 10-14 8-12 5-10 2-6 2-4
Needs Improvement 9 7 4 1 1
Men          

Excellent 36 30 25 21 18
Very Good 29-35 22-29 17-24 13-20 11-17
Good 22-28 17-21 13-16 10-12 8-10
Fair 17-21 12-16 10-12 7-9 5-7
Needs Improvement 16 11 9 6 4

Source:

American College of Sports Medicine. (2006). ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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