The push-up fitness test (also called the press-up test) measures upper body strength and endurance. There are many variations of the push-up test, with differences in the placement of the hands, how far to dip, the duration of the test and the method of counting the number of completed push-ups. Here we discuss the general method for the push-up test, and link to specific push-up fitness tests.
pre-test: Explain the test procedures to the subject. Perform screening of health risks and obtain informed consent. Prepare forms and record basic information such as age, height, body weight, gender and test conditions. Perform a standard warm-up. See more details of pre-test procedures.
procedure: A standard push-up begins with the hands and toes touching the floor, the body and legs in a straight line, feet slightly apart, the arms at shoulder-width apart, extended and at a right angle to the body. Keeping the back and knees straight, the subject lowers the body to a predetermined point, to touch the ground or some other object, or until there is a 90-degree angle at the elbows, then returns back to the starting position with the arms extended. This action is repeated without rest, and the test continues until exhaustion, or until they can do no more in rhythm or have reached the target number of push-ups. See push-up videos for some examples of push-up fitness tests.
scoring: Record the number of correctly completed push-ups.
variations: Here are just some of the variations as described on this site:
- Technique: Some variations of the push-up test are designed to make it easier for certain population groups, which may be required when testing people with weak upper body strength such as children, females and the elderly. The traditional female push-up technique is with the knees resting on the ground, which is an option on the Home push-up test. The test can also be made easier by raising the upper body such as in the chair push-up test. How far to go down? In the President's Challenge version, an assistant places their hand at the point of 90-degree flexion to indicate the depth of the push-up. The Army and Navy also require the upper arms are at least parallel to the ground in the lowest position. In some tests, the body is lowered all the way to the ground, such as in the new US Army Hand Release push-up test where the hands are lifted off the ground, and the modified push-up test which adds a clap behind the back, which slows the test down rather than making it harder.
- Timed Test: A common version of the push-up test is to measure the maximum number of push-up in a set time, such as one or two minutes. The US Army push-up test is conducted over two minutes, and the Navy push-up test over one minute. The Chair Push Up variation measures the maximum number in 30 seconds. There are also untimed maximum push-up tests to determine the most you can do.
- Tempo test: like the running beep test, there are push-up beep tests where the push-ups are required to be done in time to an audio beep recording or following the rhythm of a metronome. For example, the tempo push-up test used in the FitnessGram, President's Challenge Fitness Awards and the Connecticut Physical Fitness Test, measures the maximum number of push-ups performed at a rate of one every three seconds (20 per minute). There is also the NHL push-up beep test, at a rate of 25 per minute.
- Isometric Tests: There are also a few push-up variations in which there are no repetitions, such as the Brockport Isometric Push-Up and the Isometric Push-Up Hold in which the 'up' or 'down' position is held for as long as possible, and the Seated Push-Up in which participants raise and hold their body out of a chair. The Trunk Stability Push-Up Test involves a single push-up looking for a straight body with no sagging.
- Alternative fitness tests to measure upper body strength are the pull-up or chin-up and flexed arm hang.
target population: the push-up test is commonly used as a general test of strength. There are some sports in which upper body strength is particularly important.
advantages: this test is easy and quick to perform, usually requiring minimal or inexpensive equipment. Many participants can be tested at once.
List of push-up tests
- Push ups as performed in the US Army physical fitness test (APFT).
- Hand Release Pushup, the new USA army push-up test in which the hands are lifted from the ground while in the down position.
- Push ups as performed in the US Navy PRT.
- Maximum number push-up test
- Cadence Push-Up Test — a cadence push-up test used in the President's Challenge.
- Beep Push-Up Test — another cadence test, at a faster rate
- Chair push-up test — an easier version for the young or unfit
- Modified push-up test — includes a clap behind the back while in the 'down' position and a touch from one hand to the other in the 'up' position
- Home Push Up — a simple push-up test that can be done at home.
- Isometric Push-Up Hold Test — hold the lowered 'down' push-up position for as long as possible.
- Isometric Push-Up (Brockport) — the starting 'up' position is held for as long as possible.
- Trunk Stability Push-Up Test — push up from the ground while keeping the body straight with no sagging.
- Seated Push-up — extend the arms and raise the body out of a chair, and hold this position for as long as possible.
- Bench Press