Reddit never ceases to amaze as a source for knowledge, both highly useful and highly unnecessary.
Ask a question - any question - on there and there’s bound to be one genius on there who actually, genuinely knows what they’re talking about.
And so it’s proved with an innocuous question - “What % of my body weight am I actually lifting when doing a push-up?” - which we saw and thought, “Actually we don’t know the answer to that, and we’d quite like to know, as instinctively you’d think it’s a lot, but then maybe it’s not and, yet again, as increasingly seems to be the way these days, my instinct is probably completely wrong?”
Anyway, THINK NO MORE people because Reddit has gone and answered it for us, specifically with the citing of a 2011 study which, golly what luck, looked at exactly that question. It was written by Suprak et al and was titled ‘The effect of position on the percentage of body mass supported during traditional and modified push-up variants’ - you can read it in full here.
As Redditor crnaruka explained:
“Your question made me curious and a quick search yielded the study linked below, which looked at exactly this question. The researchers found that the answer depends both on the variant of the exercise as well as the stage of the exercise. For example, in a traditional push-up the number is about 69% in the up position (at the top of the movement) and 75% in the down position (bottom of the movement).
“It’s also worth mentioning that the study also looked at a ‘modified push-up’. This modification as shown here is essentially just an lazier easier version of the exercise where the knees stay on the floor. Surprisingly (to me at least), even in this simpler version you still lift quite a bit of your body mass (54% in the up position and 62% in the down position).
“(Edit: I corrected ‘going up/down’ to ‘up/down position’ to reflect the fact the body was kept stationary when the force was recorded in this study.)”
75%. That’s quite a lot isn’t it? We were right after all.
Naturally, this wasn’t the end of the matter, with Reddit’s fitness geeks wading in to start discussing further:
You want more geekery? Head to the Reddit thread and gorge yourself silly.