What are Weighted Push-Ups

The weighted push-up is a push-up with a greater level of intensity. With this variation, you will include additional weight on top of traditional bodyweight push-ups, usually by wearing a weighted vest or placing a weight plate on your back to increase the load on your chest, triceps, shoulders, and core. 

 

If you find bodyweight push-ups unchallenging, then, weighted push-ups are a great way to increase your pushing strength with progressive overload, which is a steady increase of the pressure place upon the musculoskeletal and nervous system. This will help you increase strength and hypertrophy. 

What Muscles are Worked by Weighted Push-Ups

The weighted push-up is a compound exercise that target several muscles groups at a single time. It will place greater stress on your muscles than bodyweight push-ups. The primary muscles worked are the pectoralis major, triceps, and anterior deltoids. The secondary muscle groups worked are the abdominals, obliques, serratus anterior, glutes, and quadriceps.

What Level are Weighted Push-Ups

This is an intermediate-level exercise as you will have to be comfortable with performing traditional bodyweight push-ups before trying this variation. This will develop and condition your joints, and muscles for the weighted push-ups. It is highly recommended that you start with a lower weight such as a 2.5KG weight plate, and gradually increase the weight over time. You can learn how to improve your push-ups by checking our article and video tutorial here!

How to do Weighted Push-Ups

As mentioned above, there are two ways you can perform weighted push-ups: weighted vest push-ups, or weighted pushups (with a weight plate on your back).  Both will have the same movement path and have the same benefits, however, one is more accessible than the other. This article will cover both methods. 

In terms of accessibility, the weighted push-up will be more cost-effective and a convenient option than the weighted vest. The weighted vest can cost between $40-$150, which is an unnecessary expense that can be substituted with a backpack loaded with heavy items. Moreover, if you have access to gyms then you can use the limitless supply of weight plates and load it onto your upper back.

Weighted Vest Pushups

  1. Put a weighted vest on and strap it securely. 
  2. Get into a plank position where your arms are shoulder-width apart with your shoulders stacked directly on top of your wrists. Engage your core, glutes, and quadriceps to ensure your body is rigid and in a straight line. This is your starting position. 
  3. Inhale as you lower your body down towards the ground by bending both elbows, tucking them close to your torso rather than flaring out. Lower until your triceps are parallel to the ground. Keep your core tight. 
  4. Exhale as you gradually push up and return to the starting position. Lock your arms out fully to ensure a full range of motion. 
  5. Repeat this movement between 5-20 reps for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

 

Weighted Pushups

  1. Begin on all fours, followed by placing a weight plate on your upper back. Start with a lighter weight to get used to the extra load. 
  2. Get into a plank position where your arms are shoulder-width apart with your shoulders stacked directly on top of your wrists. Engage your core, glutes, and quadriceps to ensure your body is rigid and in a straight line. This is your starting position. 
  3. Inhale as you lower your body down towards the ground by bending both elbows, tucking them close to your torso rather than flaring out. Lower until your triceps are parallel to the ground. Focus on engaging your core to control the weight plate on your upper back.
  4. Exhale as you gradually push up and return to the starting position. Lock your arms out fully to ensure a full range of motion. 
  5. Repeat this movement between 5-20 reps for 4 sets, 3 times a week
  6. Slowly twist your torso towards one side to let the weight plate safely fall onto the ground.

Weighted Push Ups workout

Beginners should perform between 5-8 reps for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

The intermediate level should perform between 9-19 reps for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

The advanced level should perform between 20+ reps for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

Once your reps and sets goals have been achieved, you can try different variations to increase the intensity.

Weighted Push-Ups Benefits

Increase Strength and Muscle Mass

The weighted push-up will increase the load on the working muscles, this means your chest, triceps, and core muscles will be put to work with greater stress. This damages your muscle fibers, which stimulate repairs. Therefore, causing your muscles to increase in strength and density. You will not only look stronger but will also feel stronger, and be more confident with your body. You can superset weighted push-ups with bodyweight push-ups to spice things up!

Develop Core Strength 

Weighted push-ups will challenge your core stability to a greater extent. You will need to engage your core muscles to maintain good posture and keep your back straight and rigid, rather than arching your back. A stronger core will improve your balance and stability.

Positive Carryover Effects

Training weighted push-ups will have positive carryover effects on calisthenics exercises such as tricep dips, weighted dips, and other push elements. This is because your pushing power would be enhanced which creates more explosiveness for when you perform power moves such as the muscle-up, or handstand push-ups. Therefore, enabling you to further progress in these other areas of calisthenics.

Weighted Push-Ups Variations

Weighted Incline Push-Ups

Incline push-ups target your chest muscles, especially your lower chest. This variation requires you to place your hands on an elevated surface whilst keeping the body in a straight line. It is the easiest weighted push-up variation as the upward slop will take load away from your upper body. To perform this, you will:

  1. Put a weighted vest on, or load a weight plate on your upper back securely.
  2. Place your hands on the elevated surface where your arms are shoulder-width apart. Engage your core, glutes, and quadriceps to ensure your body is rigid and in a straight line. This is your starting position. 
  3. Inhale as you lower your body down by bending both elbows, tucking them close to your torso rather than flaring out. Lower until your chest is close to the surface. Keep your core tight. 
  4. Exhale as you gradually push up and return to the starting position. Lock your arms out fully to ensure a full range of motion.
  5. Repeat this movement between 5-20 reps for 4 sets, 3 times a week. As you get stronger, you can lower the height of the elevated surface to increase the load on the working muscles.

Weighted Wide Push-Ups

Wide push-ups also target your triceps and chest, especially in the outer-upper chest area. You will place your hands wider than shoulder-width. This variation will be easier than traditional shoulder-width push-ups because you have a wider grip base, and a less range of motion. To perform this, you will:

  1. Put a weighted vest on, or load a weight plate on your upper back securely.
  2. Get into a plank position where your arms are wider shoulder-width apart. Engage your core, glutes, and quadriceps to ensure your body is rigid and in a straight line. This is your starting position. 
  3. Inhale as you lower your body down towards the ground by bending both elbows. Lower until your triceps are parallel to the ground. Keep your core tight. 
  4. Exhale as you gradually push up and return to the starting position. Lock your arms out fully to ensure a full range of motion.
  5. Repeat this movement between 5-20 reps for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

Weighted Diamond Push-Ups

Diamond push-ups put more emphasis on your triceps due to a smaller grip base that will be located at the center of your chest. This variation limits the involvement of your chest and front shoulders. You will have to contract your core muscles to a greater extent because of the smaller grip base. To perform this, you will:

  1. Put a weighted vest on, or load a weight plate on your upper back securely.
  2. Get into a plank position and form a triangle shape with your hands by connecting the index fingers and thumbs together, locate this at the center of your chest. Engage your core, glutes, and quadriceps to ensure your body is rigid and in a straight line. This is your starting position. 
  3. Inhale as you lower your body down towards the ground by bending both elbows, keeping them close to your torso rather than flaring out. Lower until your triceps are parallel to the ground. Keep your core tight. 
  4. Exhale as you gradually push up and return to the starting position. Lock your arms out fully to ensure a full range of motion. 
  5. Repeat this movement between 5-20 reps for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

Weighted Deficit Push-Ups

Deficit push-ups are a great variation for increasing upper body hypertrophy. You will have a greater range of motion as you will place your hands on two stable surfaces, and lower down further than you would in traditional push-ups. To perform this you will:

  1. Put a weighted vest on, or load a weight plate on your upper back securely.
  2. Place your hands on two stable elevated surfaces with a gap in between your chest. Engage your core, glutes, and quadriceps to ensure your body is rigid and in a straight line. This is your starting position. 
  3. Inhale as you lower your body down towards the ground by bending both elbows, keeping them close to your torso rather than flaring out. Lower as far as you can possibly can whilst maintaining good form. Keep your core tight. 
  4. Exhale as you gradually push up and return to the starting position. Lock your arms out fully to ensure a full range of motion. 
  5. Repeat this movement between 5-20 reps for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

About the Author

My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.