The king of body weight exercises and one of the most effective moves for strength and conditioning.
They predominately work the muscles in your chest, shoulders, triceps, and abs.
There are hundreds of variations to keep you challenged and they require zero equipment so you can do them anywhere.
Despite all the benefits, the most common question about push-ups that I see is:
Are push-ups harder if you are tall?
A quick Google search of this term generates 3.18 million hits!!
What’s going on here?
Is there truth to the claim that push-ups are harder if you are tall or are people making excuses?
The answer is a combination of both.
The Disadvantage of Long Limbs
It’s no secret that tall people have longer limbs.
This can be a blessing when reaching things from the top shelf but also a curse when attempting certain exercises.
In a previous blog post I outlined why some body weight movements are harder if you are tall.
It essentially boils down to three things: distance traveled, leverage and muscle to weight ratio.
1. Distance Traveled
The longer your limbs the more work you have to do to move your body through a range of motion.
For every inch your arms are longer than someone of a shorter height you have to travel an inch further to execute a push-up.
When you increase the distance you need to travel, you increase the amount of work you need to do!
Push-ups are a second-class lever.
Your body pivots around your toes, the weight is your body and your center of gravity hovers around your hips.
Your arms are what does all the moving, pressing you up and guiding you back down.
The problem with a second-class lever is that it needs to be stable in the place where all of the weight is pressing it down.
Since your hips are the center of mass and are in the air, and both your hands and feet are on the ground, gravity is pulling your body down at the hips.
Consequently you need a certain amount of abdominal strength to complete a push-up, to keep your hips from sagging.
The taller you are, the longer your body, and the further your hands and feet are from your hips.
The further your base of support moves from the center, your hips, the greater the amount of force that pulls the hips down.
3. Muscle to Weight Ratio
Generally, the taller you are the more body weight (not just muscle) you have to carry.
As you get taller, your organs and bones get larger and heavier, but you still build muscle at about the same rate as everyone else (regardless of height).
So, if you are lean (like most tall people), you require a certain amount of strength to be able to execute a push-up correctly.
It’s usually a lack of strength coupled with distance traveled and leverage that make push-ups harder if you are tall.
Let Go of Your Ego
I have a confession to make.
Many years ago, before I started any weight training, I couldn’t do a single push-up.
Rather than putting in the hard work and training push-ups on my knees I quit.
What did I do instead?
I blamed my height and made all sorts of excuses.
For the next 2 years I put off push-ups completely.
Instead I focused on getting better at the exercises that I could already do.
I was too embarrassed and proud to practice knee push-ups.
Looking back it sounds silly but at the time it felt right.
You can see this around you everywhere.
Our egos are fragile and many times we will choose to do the thing that preserves it.
Look deep and ask yourself honestly how many times you acted a certain way to stroke your ego.
When we learn to identify that our ego is holding us back and we let go only then can we make progress.
Get To Work
The truth of the matter is push-ups are harder for you because you are not strong enough.
The sooner you accept this fact the sooner you’ll be able to work towards getting better.
You can make all sorts of excuses like I did and waste your time or you can simply get to work.
The beauty with push-ups is that they are body weight exercise.
They don’t put much stress on your central nervous system so you can train them many times per week.
This leads to faster progress and more muscle growth.
How To Do More Push-Ups
One of the best FREE resources I’ve come across is a website called ONE HUNDRED PUSHUPS.
This site gives you a detailed 6 week training program (for all skill levels) for progressing to 100 consecutive push-ups.
All you need is plenty of discipline and about 30 minutes a week to achieve this goal!
If you are serious about getting stronger and being able to do more push-ups then go and start ONE HUNDRED PUSHUPS.
Don’t be another reddit poster looking for excuses as to why they shouldn’t do push-ups.
Get out there and get it done.
Stand tall, be proud of your height and strive for greatness.
- Image credit for push-up (cover image): here