Can I Gain Muscle Mass Just By Doing Push-Ups?

Last Updated on September 13, 2022 by TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer

There are many ways that you can go about trying to gain muscle mass and most of the time these discussions center around weightlifting. This isn’t the only way that it is possible for you to gain body mass, however. Did you know that it is actually possible to gain muscle mass via bodyweight exercises? 

Can I Gain Muscle Mass Just By Doing Push-Ups?

Push-ups are possibly one of the first bodyweight exercises people learn about due to the fact that they are simple to learn and easy to do correctly.

But did you know that doing push-ups alone can help you to gain muscle mass?

This guide will explain how you can gain muscle mass simply by doing push-ups, and what muscles are affected by this exercise so that you can add it to your regime to help gain muscle mass.

So Do Push-Ups Increase Muscle Mass?

Yes! Doing push-ups can help increase your muscle mass, and contrary to what some believe, it doesn’t just increase the size of your triceps.

Doing push-ups can also help you gain muscle mass in your chest, shoulders, core, and legs if they’re done correctly.

Therefore, they’re an excellent addition to your workout routine, or you can just do push-ups by themselves if you’re looking to have a day off from anything too strenuous!

How To Increase Muscle Mass With Push-Ups

Gaining muscle mass with push-ups is no easy task, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, but if you’re serious about using push-ups to help gain muscle mass, then you need to ensure that you’re doing push-ups properly, as well as doing enough of them for it to make a significant difference.

To do a correct push-up, you should:

  • Lower yourself onto all fours with your hands spread just slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  • Then, straighten out your knees, like a high plank, ensuring that you keep your spine in a neutral position and that your body is straight from your head to your feet.
  • Next, lower yourself by bending your elbows at a 45-degree angle. Bring yourself as close to the ground as possible but without touching the ground and without altering your perfectly straight form.
  • Finally, bring yourself back up by straightening your arms.

Bodyweight exercises are excellent alternatives to weight lifting machines, as rather than targeting specific muscles, bodyweight exercises help you work multiple muscles at the same time.

Push-ups target the triceps brachii, pectoralis major, and your deltoids, with your biceps, quadriceps and other core muscles also used to help stabilize yourself.

For optimal results, it is recommended that you do 3 to 6 sets with 15 to 20 reps, and allow yourself a 60-second to 90-second rest in between each of your sets.

If you’re finding it particularly easy, then your gains will slow down, or possibly stagnate.

In order to actually gain muscle mass, you’ll have to be close to muscle failure once you’ve finished your sets. Over time, the reps and sets will get easier as your muscle mass grows and you become stronger, which is the perfect time to either begin doing weighted push-ups or to begin looking at different variations of the push-up.

To do a weighted push-up, you simply need a weight plate and someone to spot you. Get into the traditional push-up position, and then have the other person place the plate onto your back, and continue as normal.

The other person will have to remain with you, however, as the plate will need to be guided to ensure that it doesn’t fall off of your back and you will need this person to remove the weight from your back when you are done with your set. 

Variations Of Push-Up

If you’re finding traditional push-ups have become all too easy, and you don’t have access to weight plates or someone to spot you, then try these push-up variations and see if they pose more of a challenge.

Can I Gain Muscle Mass Just By Doing Push-Ups?

Push-Up To Resting Tiger

  • First, start at the top of the push-up, and have your hands underneath your shoulders, with your body completely straight from head to feet.
  • Then bend your arms at a 45-degree angle away from your torso, and lower yourself down until your chest is just hovering over the ground.
  • Once you’re at the bottom of the push-up, lower down to your forearms, and press your heels back.
  • Then, return to the lowest part of the push-up, and come back onto your hands.
  • Finally, when you exhale, press yourself into the ground and complete the push-up, returning to the starting position.

Staggered Push-Up

  • Start at the top of the standard push-up, with your body straight.
  • Then, stagger the positioning of your arms. Do this by moving your right arm forward from the starting position by a few inches and moving your left arm backward by the same
  • Keep your hands in the staggered position, bend your elbows at 45 degrees from your ribs, and then lower your body to the ground until your chest is hovering just above the floor.
  • Upon exhale, push into the ground and return to the top of the push-up position.
  • Once you finish your first rep, swap the positioning of your hands for the second rep, pulling the hand that was ahead of the body back and bringing the hand that was pulled back to the forward position.
  • As a tip, you can also change the distance of your arms which will help to increase the difficulty. 

Archer Push-Up

  • Begin by kneeling on the ground, and then position your hands in a slightly wider than shoulder-width stance, and then turn your hands out to the side. 
  • Then, extend your legs out straight behind you as standard, but you need to ensure that you avoid sagging your hips.
  • Next, shift your body weight to the right and simultaneously bend your right elbow, but keep it close to your ribs. This will extend your left arm out straight.
  • Then lower your body down until your chest is just above the floor.
  • On an exhale, press into the palm of your right hand and then push up to level yourself back to the center.
  • Then repeat this step on the opposite side. 

Single Arm Push-Up

  • At the top of a traditional push-up, bring your hands in by a few inches, and then spread your feet around several inches wider from the traditional position.
  • Place your weight into your right arm, bring your left arm off of the ground, and place it either behind your back or on the side of your body.
  • On an inhale, begin to lower your body towards the ground, using your legs and only your right arm to balance.
  • Once your chest is close to the ground, exhale and then push back up to the initial position. 
  • Once your first set of reps is done, swap arms and repeat. 


Remember that when you’re trying to increase your muscle mass that it takes more than just simple exercise to help your muscles grow.

Things such as diet, mental health, and stress can all contribute to how much muscle mass you actually gain.

It’s important to vary your body weight exercises, too, to ensure that you balance out your gains; otherwise, you may suffer from imbalance.


In conclusion, push-ups are a great bodyweight exercise that can help you exercise some of the key muscles in your body, and there are many variations that can help you to increase the difficulty should you need to.

TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer
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