Foley, K. K., Carswell, T. L., & Mier, C. M. (2014). Gender differences in push-up and bench-press as related to body weight. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46(5), Supplement abstract number 3002.

red line

This study determined the differences between males (N = 5) and females (N = 5) during push-up and bench-press performance when performed at a similar percent body-weight resistance. Ss performed three tests, push-ups (females performed the modified form, males performed the traditional action) to fatigue, 1 RM bench-press, and multiple repetitions on the bench-press to fatigue. During the push-up test, kinetic data were obtained from two AMTI force plates. With one hand on each force plate, vertical ground reaction forces were measured and expressed as percent body-weight. Push-ups were performed to failure at a pace of one-second up and one-second down. Fatigue was established when a S could no longer keep pace or maintain a full-range of motion. On a separate day, Ss performed the 1 RM bench-press followed by the multiple repetitions-maximum test with resistance set at the individual’s percent body weight achieved during the push-up test.

The 1 RM bench-press was greater in males than females. The number of push-ups performed by males did not differ from females however, the number of bench-press repetitions was greater in males than females. The weight lifted during the multiple repetitions test corresponded to 51 ± 5.4% of 1 RM in males and 83.5 ± 10.2% of 1 RM in females.

Implication. When the resistance applied during a bench-press is the same as the resistance experienced during a push-up, females demonstrate a considerable drop in repetitions to fatigue during the bench-press; whereas males’ repetitions to fatigue during bench-press are comparable to their push-up performance. These data indicate that for a strength-training program, males can interchange the push-up and bench-press exercises and achieve similar results, whereas females should approach the push-up and bench-press as different types of exercises for upper-body strengthening.

Return to Table of Contents for this issue.

red line