Can You Get Ripped with Push-ups? Here’s the Truth


When you decide to get ripped, you will pick the workout that gets you the fastest results. There are lots of exercises to choose from. If you are looking for a good workout to develop your upper body strength, you can’t go wrong with push-ups

Push-ups can get you ripped. They are an excellent strength builder that work your entire body, from your arms to your core. Combined with a balanced diet and other physical activity, you will develop muscle bulk.

Getting ripped requires determination and persistence. If you want to use push-ups to get ripped and in shape, follow these tips and workouts to get the body you want.

Push-Ups Are a Great All-Around Workout

Push-ups are a good exercise when you want to focus on multiple muscle groups. They work out the arms as well as the abdominals and back.  The arm muscles used in push-ups are:

  • Triceps
  • Pectorals
  • Shoulders

By focusing on these muscles and doing a repetitive push-up workout, your arm and chest muscles will grow. 

Other health benefits from push-ups include reduced risk of a heart attack in men. A Harvard study done in 2019 determined that men who could do more than 40 push-ups in one minute are 96% less likely to experience a heart attack than those who could only complete 10.

Push-ups Are Easy To Incorporate Into Your Day

Unlike a lot of other exercises, push-ups are convenient to add to your day, even if you don’t have time for a whole workout. They require no equipment, and you don’t need to go to a gym to do them. You don’t need to do a lot of push-ups at a time to start seeing results, so if you only have a couple of minutes to spare, you can still benefit from doing a few.

Form is Key to a Good Push-up

To get the most out of your push-ups, you should focus at first on perfecting your form. To do a correct push up, you should:

  • Be in a plank position with your body in a straight line from your head to your feet. 
  • Make sure your hips are not piked.
  • Your hands are shoulder-width apart and positioned directly under your shoulders.
  • Keep your abs pulled in to use your core strength to maintain your form.

If you are new to push-ups, you might not be strong enough to do a push-up directly from a plank. There are several modifications you can do to practice push-ups.

  • Instead of the plank, do the push-ups from your knees.
  • If you want to practice keeping a straight line, do the push-ups against a wall.
  • Separating your feet can help with balance.

Start Your Push-up Workouts Slowly

Now that you know that push-ups are a great way to build muscle and get ripped, you may be tempted to start doing push-ups workouts every day with lots of repetitions. However, if you are new to them, you should start slowly and work your way up to a more intense workout to avoid injury.

Additionally, doing the same exercise exclusively can lead to plateauing. This means that your body no longer gains the same benefits from the exercise that it did in the beginning. Your muscles become used to the exercise and are no longer challenged.

There Are Different Types of Push-ups

As you progress in your push-ups workouts, there are different types of push-ups you can add to your routine for variation:

Wide Push-ups: Position hands wider than shoulder-width apart. This type of push-up targets the chest and shoulder muscles more than regular push-ups. Wide push-ups are usually easier for beginners.

Tricep Push-ups: This is the opposite of the wide push-up. Move the hands in close together, under your chest. This push-up works the triceps and is more difficult than a regular or wide push-up.

Diamond Push-up: If the tricep push-up is getting too easy for you, try the diamond push-up. Put your hands together with the index finger and thumb of each hand touching. You will work out the triceps and chest with this push-up.

Clapping Push-up: You should only attempt a clapping push-up when you’ve mastered the regular push-up. To do a clapping push-up, after you’ve lowered your upper body down to the floor, push up as hard as you can to propel yourself into the air, and clap your hands. Make sure you can get your hands back on the floor before you fall.

Pike Push-up: This push-up is done from the yoga position of downward dog. With your hips in the air and your feet flat on the ground, lower your upper body. Pike push-ups are good for focusing on your shoulder muscles. 

Knuckle Push-up: In a knuckle push-up, you push-up from your knuckles Instead of flat hands. This is a good modification if regular push-ups strain your wrists.  

Staggered Hands Push-up: As it says in the name, these push-ups are done with the hands in a staggered position. This position forces you to use your core to maintain balance, and you focus on one side of your body at a time.

It takes time to build up to these more difficult push-ups. Don’t get discouraged if you have trouble at first. Just keep practicing, and eventually, you will be able to do them.

Incorporate Other Exercises to Avoid Plateauing

To gain strength and define your muscles, you need to combine your push-up workouts with other physical activities. Some of these will even help you improve your push-ups and avoid plateauing.

Strength Training

It’s true that by doing push-ups you get better at them, but repetition is not the only way to improve your form and strength. Try these strength exercises that work out the same muscle groups as push-ups but in a different way.

Bench Press/Chest Press: This exercise is a similar motion to push-ups, but it is done from your back. You can use either a barbell or dumbbells and press them up and down from your chest. Increase the difficulty by raising your knees to 90 degrees.

Planks: Planks use the same form as a traditional push-up and will strengthen your core. You can add variations such as up-downs, where you come down onto your forearms and them back up again.

Rows and tricep kickbacks: Another dumbbell workout, this is done from a lunge position. Using the opposite arm from the one out front, pull the dumbbell up in a rowing motion, and then move the lower arm back from the elbow. This exercise helps build the triceps, necessary for a successful push-up.

Skull crushers: Another triceps exercise, this time done on your back. Raise your arms above your head and lower the weights by bending at the elbow. Be careful not to hit your face, and make sure you keep your arms next to your head.

It’s tempting to focus only on your upper body muscles. Still, to be truly physically fit, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends for all adults (18-64) workouts that include all major muscle groups at least twice a week.

Cardiovascular Training Helps Shed Body Fat

While strength workouts are perfect for adding bulk, an ideal workout should include a cardiovascular element to burn fat and improve your endurance. Being ripped not only means having the muscle mass but also to have low body fat. 

The good thing about cardio workouts is that you usually don’t need any special equipment. A lot of the things that you may already be doing every day, like going for walks, can qualify as your cardio component. If you want to up your cardio workouts, try these exercises:

Low Intensity Workouts: These workouts are good for beginners as you can build endurance as you go. Low intensity workouts include jogging, swimming, and aerobics. If you have a bicycle, get it out and use it for exercise or ride to work a few days a week.
Jump Rope: It may be hard to imagine that an activity children do on the playground is a good workout, but jumping rope is an excellent way to burn calories fast. It depends on your weight and the length of the workout, but you can expect to burn at least 100 calories in a 20-minute workout.
HIIT: HIIT (high intensity interval training) involves quick periods of intense physical activity followed by a short rest. For example, 45 seconds of jumping jacks, 15 seconds of rest, 45 seconds of squats, 15 seconds of rest, and so on. This is a quick workout with a huge cardio impact.

The more often you do cardio workouts, the longer you’ll be able to go. In the beginning, you should aim for 60 minutes of low intensity cardio five days a week. You can increase the intensity by carrying hand weights when you go walking or do aerobics.

Vary Your Workouts From Day To Day

Doing cardio or strength training every day can get boring, and your muscles will get used to the exercise, so your results may slow. If you vary your workouts between cardio and strength or with different exercises, you’ll:

Keep up your interest in exercising

Prevent overusing certain muscles

Build new muscles

Keep from plateauing

Exercise your brain

If you want to keep doing push-ups, that’s perfectly fine. Just remember to incorporate other activities into your routine. 

It’s also important to take a day off when you need to. Sore muscles are generally a sign that you have had a good workout, but they can also mean you have injured yourself. Pay attention to your body, and do what’s best for it.

Get This Equipment for Your Home Gym

If you are new to working out regularly, you might not have a lot of equipment at home for working out. Many of the exercises we’ve shown you are done without equipment and use body-weight, but to really get a good workout, you should invest in some equipment.

Yoga Mat: A yoga mat provides some cushioning from the floor for your push-ups, planks, and other floor exercises. Even if you don’t have any other equipment, you should buy a yoga mat.

Resistance Loop Bands: These bands are great for both strength workouts and stretching. You can use them for upper and lower body workouts, and they are especially useful for adding resistance to your leg workouts.

Jump Rope: As we already said, jump roping is an excellent way to burn calories. Get a jump rope, and you’ll be on your way to burning fat and building muscle.

TRX Suspension Training Kit: This kit uses your body weight, and gravity for a full body work out. Attach it to your door frame, a tree, or a pole and use it for lunges, squats, and pull ups, among other exercises.

Hand Weights: You can use hand weights for strength exercises or add resistance to your cardio workouts. Get a variety of different weights. As you use them, you’ll start to go up in heaviness. Some exercises, especially triceps, are better with a lighter weight.

While you can quite easily complete a well-rounded workout without any equipment, you can build muscle mass quicker and improve your push-ups if you use the items listed above. 

A Well-Balanced Diet Helps Build Muscle

Getting ripped doesn’t mean only building muscles. You also need to reduce your body fat. You could have the most well-developed abdominal muscles in the world, but no-one will see them behind a beer belly.

Eating a well-balanced diet will help you lose weight and build muscle. You do need to be careful about the number of calories you take in if you are doing strength training. Traditional diets usually restrict the number of calories you consume, but building muscle uses calories. Make sure you are eating enough to build those muscles while staying healthy.

What Should You Eat To Build Muscle?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the three things you need to focus on in your diet when building muscle mass are:

  • Protein: When you are building muscle, protein should make up 10% to 35% of your total calories. Protein contains amino acids, which help repair tears that happen in the muscle while you are doing strength training. 

To build muscle, you should consume around .73 grams of protein a day for every pound you weigh. If you weigh 200 pounds, you should consume 146 grams of protein. For reference, 3 ounces of ground beef contain 22 grams of protein.

  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates get a bad rap in diets, but they are essential for providing energy. Carbs are converted into glycogen, which is stored in your muscles and fuel your workouts. 

You may think of bread and cake when it comes to carbs, but they are also the building blocks of many healthy fruits, vegetables, and grains. Be smart when choosing which carbs to add to your diet. Eat things like brown rice, whole grain bread, low-fat yogurt, and vegetables.

  • Fat: Fat is an important energy source for your workouts. How much you need depends from person to person, but you should always incorporate a healthy fat into your meal. Fat should make up 20%-25% of your diet. 

Healthy sources of fats include oils, such as olive and canola, nuts, like almonds and walnuts, avocados, and fish. Make sure to keep an eye on your serving sizes, as fat contains twice the number of calories as proteins and carbohydrates.

What If You Don’t Have Time to Cook?

Life is busy, and we don’t always have time to cook a well-rounded dinner. If you’re always on the run, you can still eat healthily and incorporate all the nutrition we talked about above. Here are some supplements and snacks to keep you moving:

Creatine: Creatine is produced naturally in our bodies and provides energy to build muscle. Adding it as a supplement can increase your muscle content by up to 40%.

Protein Supplements: As you already learned, protein is very important for muscle growth and for repairing muscle tears. Supplements come in powders, drinks, and bars.

Weight Gainer: Sometimes, eating a well-balanced diet and doing strength training is not enough and you need extra calories. Weight gainers are a combination of carbs and protein and can increase lean muscle mass. They are only recommended if you have trouble eating enough food.

Other good choices for snacks on the go include:

  • String cheese
  • Nuts
  • A piece of fruit
  • Yogurt

The most important thing to do is to stay away from fast food and unhealthy snacks. Although they contain many calories, they don’t have the other nutritional requirements for a good diet.

Getting Ripped Takes Work

So, can you get ripped with push-ups? The answer is yes. You can develop your chest and arm muscles by focusing exclusively on push-ups. However, if you want to work out other parts of your body and become healthier, you need to have a well-rounded workout, consisting of strength and cardiovascular exercise.

Diet is also extremely important to building muscle. Doing push-ups will get you started but increase the amount of protein in your diet and add a few supplements, and you’ll be amazed at the bulk you’ll get.

It’s easy when you have a workout goal to focus on only one thing, but your body is a system that works together. You might not think that a leg workout will help with arm definition, but you are burning calories no matter what. Think about your workout holistically, and you’ll have the muscles of your dreams.

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/wide-pushups

https://www.livestrong.com/article/441537-how-many-pushups-should-i-do-a-day-to-get-ripped/

https://www.military.com/military-fitness/workouts/try-pushup-push-workout

https://www.askmen.com/sports/bodybuilding/total-body-pushup-variations.html

https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/pushups-everyday#risks

https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/muscles-worked-push-ups

https://www.baseops.net/basictraining/pushups.html#:~:text=It%20is%20a%20myth%20that,you%20strength%20in%20push%20ups.

https://www.onemedical.com/blog/live-well/7-reasons-to-switch-up-your-workout

https://www.eatright.org/fitness/training-and-recovery/building-muscle/strength-building-and-muscle-mass

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/daily-calories-weightlifting-6616.html

https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a19540064/how-to-build-muscle-5-diet-changes-you-need-to-make-gains/

https://www.bustle.com/p/the-14-best-home-exercise-equipment-for-beginners-22680444

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/supplements-for-muscle-gain#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

abel

Retired Athlete, Retired Personal Trainer, Retired University Teacher, Retired Sales Manager...

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