The Push-up Test: Upper Body Muscular Endurance

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

This upper body muscular endurance test is arguably the most popular one, as it requires absolutely no equipment and can be done almost anywhere.

Before implementing a test, you must know the purpose of the test and determine if it fits the goals for your client.

Purpose: To assess the endurance and strength of the triceps, anterior deltoids, and pectoralis major.

The more exact you are at following the procedures, the more reproducible and consistent your retest will be.


  • Check for neck or back problems, before proceeding with this test

  • People who suffer from low back ailments may not be able to perform this test

Demonstrate-Never assume they know what you are looking for when you say "push-up"

  • Males start in “down” position, females in “up” position

  • Males on toes, hands pointing forward under the shoulder, back straight, head up, using the toes as a pivotal point

  • Females on knees, legs together, lower leg in contact with mat with ankles plantar flexed, back straight, hands shoulder-width apart, head up, using knees as the pivotal point § Abdomen cannot touch & hips cannot be high in air

  • Body must lowered until chin touches mat

  • Must push up to a straight arm position


  • Have subject perform one rep to check form

  • MUST have the subject sit up & rest, after form check, before starting test

STOP CRITERIA--Stop test when participant:

- Begins to strain forcibly or demonstrates severe discomfort

- Fails to maintain proper technique over 2 consecutive reps

§ An isolated improper rep gets a warning; 2 consecutively poor reps gets test termination

- Remind the subject to breathe throughout the test

- Score is # performed consecutively (no time limit) without rest

- Adhere strictly to the proper stop criteria & count correctly


Ferguson, B. (2014). ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription 9th Ed. 2014. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 58(3), 328.

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