Effect of progressive calisthenic push-up training on muscle strength and thickness

Christopher J. Kotarsky, Bryan K. Christensen, Jason S. Miller, Kyle J. Hackney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Calisthenics, a form of resistance training, continue to increase in popularity; however, few studies have examined their effectiveness for muscle strength improvement. The purpose of this study was to determine whether progressive calisthenic push-up training (PUSH) is comparable with traditional bench press training (BENCH) as a technique for increasing muscle strength and thickness. Twenty-three healthy, moderately trained men (mean ± SD: age 23 ± 6.8 years) completed the study. Subjects were randomly assigned to PUSH (n = 14) and BENCH (n = 9) groups and were trained 3 days per week for 4 weeks. Muscle thickness (MT), seated medicine ball put (MBP), 1 repetition maximum (1RM) bench press, and push-up progression (PUP) were measured before and after training. Results revealed significant increases in 1RM (p < 0.001) and PUP (p < 0.001) for both groups after training. The increase in PUP was significantly greater for PUSH (p < 0.001). No significant differences were found within groups for MT and MBP (p > 0.05). This study is the first to demonstrate that calisthenics, using different progressive variations to maintain strength training programming variables, can improve upper-body muscle strength.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-659
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of strength and conditioning research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Bench press
  • Bodyweight
  • Free weights
  • Resistance training
  • Strength training
  • Variations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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