60 Second Pressup

Performing this test:

  • The participant attempts to complete as many perfect push-ups within a minute.
  • Imperfect push-ups are not counted.
  • Push-ups should be completed continuously without stopping until the minute is completed.



What is a perfect push-up?

  • Body is held in the starting position, which is:
    • Feet are spaced hip-width apart, toes flat to the floor with ankles positioned directly above the toes.
    • Body is held in  a straight line from heels to shoulders.
    • Hands are placed approximately shoulder-width apart.
    • Arms are extended and are at a 90º vertical relative to the floor when viewed from the side.
  • Body is lowered until chest and nose are approximately 3 fingers width from the floor.
  • Push against the floor in order to raise the body and return to the starting position.
  • The head must not dip towards the floor during the movement.
  • The back must remain straight, and neither arch nor bend during the movement.
  • The lowering movement should be controlled. I.e.: the body should not be allowed to “fall” towards the ground.
  • Breathe in while the body is lowered, breathe out as the body is raised.

Why do this test?

  • It can provide a good indicator of your upper body strength relative to your body weight.
  • It’s a test that can be performed often, and can show large improvements over a short time frame.
  • Test scores that are less than than prior attempts can indicate weaknesses due to fatigue and over training.

Things I like about this test:

  • It’s a very simple test requiring very little equipment.
  • You can perform this test by yourself.
  • The push-up is one of the simplest callisthenic exercises to perform, and yet it engages multiple muscle groups directly. Primarily the Pecs, Biceps, Rotator, and Traps, and secondarily all of the abdominals, triceps and deltoids.
  • It only takes a minute to do.
  • Training for this test – and consequently performing the test – exercises muscles which contributes to increasing your upper body strength.
  • The push-up exercise is relatively low-impact, and you are less likely to overexert or injure muscles, as compared to using weights or other gym equipment.

Things I dislike about this test:

  • Performing the test very quickly could result in the participant falling rather than lowering the body to the floor. This would mean that only half of the push-up is being performed during the test and the muscles exercised are not necessarily going through a complete cycle of movement. I am also concerned that in stopping the falling motion, muscles might be overexerted at only a single part of the movement.
  • The test is limited in that there is an upper limit to the number of push-ups that can be physically don within the time period. When you lower your body quickly, the fastest you can fall is determined by gravity. Once you reach the point of falling rather than lowering, your reach the maximum limit of movements available to the test.
  • Performing movements faster doesn’t necessarily provide a good indication of relative strength. Slower controlled movements are always more difficult and require more energy to perform. Therefore the scoring doesn’t really reflect the difficulty involved at a lower cadence.
  • Whether perfect push-up is completed comes down to the judgement of the individual observing the movement, which can result in a subjective rather than completely objective assessment.

2 Responses to “60 Second Pressup”

  1. asterisk 25 March 2013 at 18:31 #

    I think a total number of “correct” push-ups “to failure” would be a better method to assess upper-body strength. This would allow better “form” and permit a goal of 100 push-ups. Kim*


    • Sean Robins 25 March 2013 at 21:56 #

      The problem with almost any test, is that at some point the test itself can become useless once strength and form have reached a point where the test is done so “easily” that the test result doesn’t reflect actual fitness level.

      One negative with testing to failure is that often the “failure” is a mental rather than a physical one, and a short fraction of a second rest can be enough to allow a test to continue, so it makes it difficult to really know when the test should actually finish, or whether a “failure” reflects the actual ability/fitness of the person being tested. Using a time limit on the other hand can help to make allowances for this sort of thing. This doesn’t invalidate the use of to failure testing by the way. I just think it’s worth noting that the view of “better” testing can sometimes be quite subjective and really comes down to intentions and purpose.

      I totally agree though that testing must be done with perfect form in order to have any real value.

      Thanks for reading, and for commenting. 🙂

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