How Good Are Push-ups and Chin-ups?

I like push-ups because you can do them just about anywhere and don’t need special equipment. That eliminates the can’t make it to the health club today excuse.

“Push-ups and pull-ups challenge your torso muscles. You do them anytime, anywhere. These synergistic, compound exercises offer convenient, complete body conditioning and customizable workouts,” according to

They condition all the major upper body muscles.


“As a symbol of health and wellness, nothing surpasses the simple push-up,” the New York Times says.

“The push-up is the ultimate barometer of fitness. It tests the whole body, engaging muscle groups in the arms, chest, abdomen, hips and legs. It requires the body to be taut like a plank with toes and palms on the floor. The act of lifting and lowering one’s entire weight is taxing even for the very fit.”

They are especially useful for seniors as they can break a fall and prevent serious head injuries. “What so many people really need to do is develop enough strength so they can break a fall safely without hitting their head on the ground,” Dr. Ashton-Miller said in the New York Times. “If you can’t do a single push-up, it’s going to be difficult to resist that kind of loading on your wrists in a fall.”

Push-ups are easier to do than chin-ups because you are only lifting about 60 percent of your body weight, so you can always do more pushups than chin-ups.

Push-ups use the chest and triceps muscles, chin-ups work the back and biceps muscles, so the combination constitutes a fine upper body workout.

I have never been very good at weight work and as a result never had much upper body strength. My regular bike riding accounted for very good cardiovascular and lower body fitness. Reading about muscle shrinkage in old age has gotten my ‘off the dime’ and I have started doing push-ups and chin-ups to build my upper body.

I bought the Ironman Bar (see illustration) which is excellent for doing both exercises. When I started two weeks ago, I was only able to manage one-half of a chin-up and nine push-ups. I do these exercises every other day. I am now up to five chin-ups and 20 push-ups. While this is anecdotal it does demonstrate the fact that senior citizens get as much out of weight training as younger people.

I recommend these as a worthwhile upper body workout that you can do in the privacy of your own home/apartment. It seems especially useful for seniors.


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Filed under aging, Exercise, Weight, weight-bearing exercise

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