Do Push Ups Help Build Muscle? Proper Form Equals Results

by Josh | Last Updated:  October 12, 2020
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Exercise is key to a happy and healthy life. And what’s the best way to workout than lifting and push-ups? Push-ups are the most standard way of working out if you’re going for an overall muscle build. 

If you are asking yourself – “Do push ups help build muscles?” then this article is exactly what you need. Because here I will explain whether or not muscles are gained doing push-ups. 

Push-ups do build muscles especially in the triceps, chest area, shoulders, and abdominal areas of your body. However, you have to maintain proper posture, or else the result would backfire and you will end up with zero muscles and a sore body. 

I advise you to keep reading as I’ve discussed some more on the techniques of push-up and how specific muscles worked during push ups following these methods. Moreover, I also included some common mistakes people tend to make. So, make sure to go through the full article to learn the proper methods of doing pushups and building muscle.

What Are Push-ups For?

Before getting straight to the point, let me give you a brief overview of what push-ups are for. Push-ups mainly build strength. It’s a very effective exercise for gaining more strength and muscle mass on mainly the upper portion of your body. 

While there are over 10 different types of push-up styles, the basic posture is where you keep your body in a plank position, keeping the body straight and lower your back, then gradually push your entire body up. 

Fit woman doing pushups on brick - Do Push Ups Help Build Muscle
Fit woman doing pushups on brick

Types of Push-ups

There are many different types of push-ups based on which part you’re emphasizing on building muscles and strength. Let’s take a look at some of the most common push up methods. 

Traditional Push up

When you think of push-ups, this is the one that comes to your mind at first. Lower your back and be at your toes. If you are unable or find it hard to plank on your toes, then be at your knees instead. And switch it up with your toes as you progress gradually. 

Traditional Push-ups train your whole body from your arms to your lower body, building both strength and stability. 

Clap Pushup

This type of pushup requires explosive power and fast movements. Similar to the traditional pushup, this one also starts with lowering your back and staying at toes in a plank position. 

Afterward, move off the ground making sure you have sufficient space to clap your hands together before arriving in the beginning position once more, prepared for the following rep. Then bend the elbows to lower the chest as much as you can. Make sure the chest gets close to the ground. 

Clap push-ups emphasize on building muscles in the arms, shoulders, and chest area.

Diamond Pushup

In this type of push up, your hands stay closer than usual, even narrower than the shoulder-width of your body. For this reason, this push up is also called a close-grip pushup. Aside from this, the push-up style follows the convenient traditional push-up style. 

For beginners, this might be a harder style to do and so it is recommended for those who are not a novice in calisthenics exercises

Wide Grip Pushup

This pushup method is exclusive for chest and shoulders. If you are looking for building some weight and muscles over that area then this is the best push-up method for you. It follows the traditional pushup method except there is a wider gap between your hands.

This ultimately results in bending your elbow more than usual which leads to developing muscles in the pectoral area. 

Do Push-ups Work Biceps?

Push up is a well-known exercise for the chest area. But in reality, it also works the arms including biceps. While triceps are easily worked through push-ups, you have to compromise the push up a bit for gaining biceps. 

However, push-ups are not recommended for biceps as push-ups can only build a small amount of weight in biceps. Biceps require “pull” type exercises like chin up, inverted rows, etc. whereas push up is a “push” type exercise so it doesn’t really go with biceps. 

Though push up does develop biceps in small amounts, applying some tricks can enhance the amount. Let’s take a look at how you can work on your biceps through push up. 

Unlike regular push-ups, keep your hands in the farther back and rotate them as much as you can. Make sure you don’t feel too much discomfort.

You are required to tuck your elbows and keep your core tight, shifting all of your mass on the biceps. Afterward, gradually lower your back and do your push-ups.

In this way, by putting excess emphasis on biceps, you can build biceps muscles through push-ups. 

Diet and Sleep

Proper diet and sleep is a must for building muscle. You can do all the push-ups you want but without a proper diet and rest, you won’t be going much far. 

For building muscle you need to have a high protein and low carbohydrate diet. You might have to eat more or less than you are usually used to.

Muscle is protein. So, you can’t make muscle without providing enough protein to your body. Protein will also make hunger less frequent. So, you won’t be craving snacks as much which is great for reducing fat.  

Say goodbye to rice, bread, sweets and other carb rich foods. It’s because they don’t have much nutritional value and just add excess fat to your body.

Sleep is also important for building muscle. Proper sleep enhances the activity of testosterone and other hormones and enzymes that help with muscle build up.

Proper sleep reduces inflammation and limits soreness. So, you can get back to working out faster. You need about 8 hours of sleep daily to maintain adequate muscle growth.      

Common Push-up Mistakes

Many people make some common mistakes while doing push-ups. Considering you don’t do the same, I listed below five most common mistakes people make when doing push-ups. 

Flare elbows

Flare elbows are a common mistake as many people tend to think the proper pushup posture, your body should have a “T” shaped structure.

In reality, this is wrong and flare elbows will only create stress on your shoulders and arms. The correct posture is keeping your elbows at a 60-degree angle. 

Crane neck

This mistake most likely happens whenever people reach the utmost strength and start finding it hard to continue doing the push-up. They inevitably stretch their neck or crane their head to make it seem like they are getting closer to the ground. 

When the push up gets tough, people tend to forget that the neck is a part of the spine and you have to keep it in the correct posture. Craning the neck results in a sore neck and gives no advantage to your body.

Sagging the back

People tend to make this mistake right after they crane their neck. Just like the craning neck mistake, when the exercise gets tough, people start losing strength and it makes them sag their backs too much. 

This could lead to severe backache, swayback, and lower back pain. Moreover, you will gain very little rep. 

Pumping out reps too fast

People tend to think that throwing weight all over the place and applying maximum momentum will help them gain muscles more effectively. This, however, is a completely wrong idea. 

Instead of gaining reps, this leads to a sore body and limbs. It is recommended to focus on controlling the lower phase and exhale consistently. 

Pressing your hips too high

Another tendency to overcome discomfort during push-ups is pressing your hips too high. While this mistake is comparatively less problematic, it still renders your push up muscle gains.

Although it makes your pushup less tough, you can end up with back pain and sometimes even a swayback. 

If you’re finding it hard to continue doing push ups in the correct posture, take rest and start again instead of doing it in the wrong way. 

Final Thoughts on Do Push Ups Help Build Muscle

Hopefully, by reading this far, you got the answer to your question “Do push ups help build muscles?”. In a nutshell, push-ups are a great way to develop chest, biceps, triceps etc.

There are various styles and methods of push-ups that you can do to emphasize muscle build up in different areas of your body. 

Invest enough time on workouts, maintain proper posture, eat well and you will achieve your desired look in no time. Have a good day and happy lifting!

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