I've always wondered how much weight is being lifted when performing push ups. I knew it wasn't equal to your body weight, because your feet are touching the floor distributing a significant amount of weight away from your arms. So how much of your weight are you actually lifting?
During some downtime, the question entered my head, and I began pondering how to actually measure the weight lift for a push-up.
I grabbed a few colleagues from Spectrum and Orthopaedics plus, a wobble board, and a weight scale and began the experiment. This is how we did it.
Dave, our eager test subject, got on the scale and we recorded his weight.
Then we placed a wobble board (essentially just the piece of wood minus the fulcrum) over the force plate to widen the surface area to accommodate the true hand spacing of a push up. Dave assumed the push-up position, and we recorded the weight.
The conclusion? In this case, the weight on the force plate was 71% of his body weight. I'm sure you might see variations of this because of people of different height and dimensions, but as a preliminary test it serves to give us an accurate estimate of how much weight you are lifting when doing a push-up.
We continued the study by seeing how much adding resistance bands of various tension affected resistance of push ups. This was a tricky set up, which at one point caused me to be partially launched across the room. We hoped no one would walk into the assessment room while we were doing this. See the pic below to see the set up, and you'll see why ;)
Here are the results of how much weight was added to a push-up with the bands:
Monster mini band (at Spectrum - Red band): + 24 pounds
Light Band (" Purple Band): + 44 pounds
Average band (" Green Band): + 81 pounds
Strong band (" Blue Band): + 150 pounds
Again, this might vary based on different body dimensions. Someone with longer arms may have slightly more resistance, and someone with shorter arms, slightly less resistance.
So if you want to have a pretty good estimate of how much weight you are lifting while doing push-ups, multiply your body weight by .71, then add the above poundage the corresponds to the above bands if you use them.
You can get resistance bands here.
Enjoy your push up training, and now you can more precisely track your weight progressions!