Monday, June 15, 2009

Is the Pushup a Full Body Exercise?

CM SEAL Team blogger: Stew Smith

This blog is a reply to comments from a few of our YouTube Teammates. The first, commenting on the Perfect Pushup Power 10 Arms Workout, said "This stuff really works, I got one of 'em myself and I'm getting ripped! The only problem is that you don't work your legs!!! *%$@!"

You actually work several muscle groups...

Another Teammate posted to the Perfect Pushup - Power Punch Workout that punching itself is the best exercise these push ups generate only the arms and they are only a small part of the body.

Actually, your chest / shoulders / triceps are doing the actual pushup - BUT you also have to have the following muscles flexed ("working") during the entire movement or you would not be able to do a pushup:

abs / lower back / upperback / hips / thighs / calves

In order to straighten your legs you have to use your leg muscles - that is why the pushup is truly a full body exercise compared to a bench press that does the same basic movement.

It is an isometric flex in the legs but it still an effective exercise. To really work the legs you should add squats or the 8 count pushup...where you stand up in between each rep of a pushup.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL, and author of several fitness and self defense books such as The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness, Maximum Fitness, and SWAT Workout. Certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and as military fitness trainer, Stew has trained hundreds of students for Navy SEAL, Special Forces, SWAT, FBI, ERT and many other law enforcement professions. See him at

Don't miss Fight Science Special Ops with Stew Smith on the National Geographic Channel.


Unknown said...

If you do not think The Perfect Pushup is not a full body exercise, then you are not working out!


John said...

I agree. The whole concept of the pushup is not the first 20 or 30 you rip out, but the last one or two that requires every bit of strength you have left. I certainly can feel my core being worked out from the very first push up, but it's those last couple that I really feel the legs. I have to say, it kind of freaked me out the first time it happened. I think the same thing happens with dips. While you might think it's just for the upper body, I can feel almost every muscle in my body tensing to push out those last couple of reps.