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Weighted Push-ups: The Forgotten Exercise

Weighted Push-ups may be the single best pushing exercise for your body. It activates your chest, triceps, shoulders, core and even glutes and scapula.

However it is rarely performed by the average person and is often replaced with the bench press or weighted dips.

The issue with the exercise is that it can be a bit tricky to set up. It's not easy to add weight for this movement.

Unfortunately adding weight is required for most individuals because performing the movement without weight is just too easy and is more of an endurance exercise rather than a strength and muscle building one.

In this blog post we will discuss:

  • The MISTAKES people make when adding load to the weighted pushup
  • The BEST WAY to add resistance to the weighted pushup
  • The benefits of weighted push-up
  • The weighted pushup vs the weighted dip
  • The weighted pushup vs the bench press
  • Weighted Push-up to Bench press Calculator

The Biggest Weighted Push-up Mistake

When most people add weight to the push-up, they grab a weight plate and just balance it on their back.

There are a few issues with this method:

1. It becomes a balancing act

The weighted push-up becomes a balancing act rather than a strength straining exercise.

How are you supposed to focus on pushing as hard as possible when you have to be concerned about balance?

It's tricky enough to do with one plate, now imagine if you want to balance 2,3,4 or even 5.

Yes some people do push-ups with over 100kg so that requires 5 plates!

If the plates are not coated with rubber, then it's even more challenging.

The Weighted pushup becomes like a game of Jenga!

2. Un-even load

So you manage to keep it on your back, but whats the chance the plates are going to stay truly centered?

Once its move slightly to the left or right you are now putting uneven load to your left and right side of your body?

Do you stop the set completely and reset all together or do you keep performing these uneven pushups?

Neither seems ideal!

3. Inconsistent resistance

The Pushup is essentially a lever. where the contact point of your feet is the fulcrum.

For a lever, the farther weight if from the fulcrum, the hard it is to lift.

The intensity of the weighted push-up changes vastly by where the weight plate is located.

If you add 20kg on your upper back it will increase the difficulty by about 20kg.

However if you add 20kg on your lower back it will only increase the difficulty by about 15kg.

That's a huge difference!

Every time you set up the weights on your back, it will be in a slightly, different location. Furthermore, it is likely that the weight plate will slide and change position during the exercise itself.

it will be very hard to honestly measure progress and to properly progressive overload if you are not sure you are actually lifting the a

4. Safety

The weight plates can fall onto your head when you perform the push-ups. Decline Push-ups are also a very useful exercise and there will be an even bigger concern for this weighted push-up variation.

5. Requires A Workout Partner

Sure you can perform heavy weight pull-ups easier in this method if you have a training partner.

However it's a big ask! Not only does have have to spot the weight, he also needs to add and remove it from your back each time!

It's much more cumbersome and demanding than spotting for a bench press.

Furthermore, it takes time for the weights to be added onto your back.

So you will be having to perform a 10-30 second weighted plank each time before you start you set!

How to Properly Set Up Push-ups

To properly set up weighted push-ups you will need a weighted vest.

The problem with most vests is that they don't hold very much weight.

Similar to a deadlift or a squat, push-ups are an exercises where you can actually move a lot of weight. Thats actually one of the things that makes this exercise so great.

However, this also means most weight vests won't be enough, as they can only hold 10-100lbs.

You can use the Bench press to weight vest converter to see how much weight you will need to add to your weight vest to create the same difficulty and intensity.

If you really want to unlock you full potential on your weighted push-ups we recommend getting the Kensui EZ-VEST that can hold 225lbs.

Weighted Pushups Benefits

Great carryover

The weight loaded push-up will have great carry over to the bench press and dips. If your focus is to improve your bench press then it is highly recommended to perform the weighted push-up.

Works multiple muscle groups at one

The weight loaded push-up is a compound exercise working your triceps, delts, chest, core, glutes and more. It's a great exercise if you are short on time since you will be working them simeautanesouly.

High Power Output

A lot of weight is lifted in the weighted push-up. Generally even more than in the bench press. this means you are outputting more work in less time.

Improved Athleticism

The weight loaded push-up is a very natural movement while requiring full body control. It works your core and stabilizer muscle which is vital to all breeds of athletics.

Amazing for Core Strength

The push-up is essentially a dynamic plank. since you are performing a plank the entire movement your core and serratus muscles will be worked extensively.

No spotter required

If you fail a bench press you are in a lot of trouble. In a weighted push-up if you are unable to finish the rep, you can always put your knees on the ground and do the last set with your knees on the ground.

This is also great way to do drop sets. when you switch to your knees you are dropping the resistance by about 20%.

Weighted Pushups vs Weighted Dips

Both exercises are amazing for upper body pushing strength. It is recommend that you do both exercises for maximal results.

However the biggest difference is the angle that you are pushing. The dip is more similar to the Decline Bench press and will focus on your lower pecs. The weight loaded push-up will focus on both upper and lower pecs and core.

Weighted Pushups vs Bench Press

The Weighted Push-up is a closed chain movement, whereas the bench press is an open-chain movement. Closed chain movements are generally thought to be safer. This is because for closed chain movements your hands and/or feet are stable on the ground. The weight loaded push-up also works the core more than the bench press.

Lastly, the weighted push-ups activates the scapula. In the benchpress the scapula is depressed and retracted and doesn't move throughout the movement because it is pinned to the bench.

However, in the push-up, the scapula is able to move freely. The scapula retracts at the bottom of the rep and is protracted at the top of the movement.

Use the weighted push-up to bench press converter below to see the equivalent weight you are lifting during your weighted push-up.

Pushup To Bench Press Converter

Calculate How Much You Are Lifting During Your Weighted Push-ups

Assuming any added weight is place on your upper back


Bodyweight: lbs/kgs
Extra Weight: lbs/kgs

**This calculation is based on the average athletic male. The calculator will over-report the resistance if you are top-heavy and under-report if your are bottom-heavy

**This calculation assumes the weight is placed on the upper back. The calculator will over-report the resistance if you are placing the weight on the mid or lower back.


The Weighted Push-up may be the most beneficial pushing exercise known to man but is often under-utilized because of lack of proper knowledge and equipment.

About the Author

Remy started calisthenics in 2014 and has mastered advanced movements such as the one arm pull-up, front-lever, one arm muscle-up and more.

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