Push Ups VS Bench Press – Which is better or more effective?

Muscle activation and strength gains compared - check it out!

August 03, 2016
Push Ups VS Bench Press – Which is better or more effective?

Free workout app

Download now

Can Push Ups build muscle, upper body strength and bigger chest like Bench Press?

Is it possible to leave the weights and replace Bench Press with Push Ups?

Read the full comparison for details or scroll down for a summary of benefits.

Muscle activation

Push Ups and Bench Press mainly do the same thing – they target chest, front shoulders, triceps and lats in a pushing motion. However, when doing Bench Press the weight moves and the upper body is stabilised on a bench, which makes it easier to focus on your chest and push more weight. In Push Ups the body is moving instead, so the exercise involves more joint motion and importantly - more core activation for stabilisation.

Strength gains

Surprisingly for most people, Bench Press and Push Ups can cause similar strength gains when performed under the same load, says research.[1] How is that possible?

The load is the key for gains, and the truth is that it's much easier to add load in Bench by simply adding more weight plates. Adding load in Push Ups, on the other hand, requires advanced variations and new skills that don't repeat the same movement pattern.

Check out 8 Push Up variations video below or try the Push Up challenge designed to help you grow.

Can you replace Bench Press with Push Ups?

Getting stronger in Push Ups does not mean your Bench numbers will grow the same way, or vice versa. Bench Press is about absolute strength – pushing the most weight possible, whereas Push Up is about relative strength – how efficiently you can use your own body-weight. It all depends on your goals, both exercises can make you build muscle, get fitter and look better.

Push Ups offer you an accessible way to get results anywhere. It's not easy to progress, but the challenge in learning new variations makes it fun. For example, One Arm Push Up is a great exercise that requires lots of strength but also involves core, hips and lower body which means you can transfer the strength gains to other real life movements such as throwing, punching, running...Here's more benefits and tips for Push Ups.

Bench Press requires weights, and even someone to assist you if you're lifting heavy. But it also makes it easier to see faster maximum strength gains, if that's your main goal. But remember, the maximum strength you gain on your Bench Press can not directly transfer to real life functional movement.


If you're looking to find the most practical way to get fitter - check out the most popular Madbarz Push Up workout you can do to build bigger chest at home. Are you looking for workout plans that require no equipment? Try Madbarz Premium and get fit at home, using only your bodyweight!

Push Ups benefits:

  • accessibility - no equipment, you can do it anywhere and still have gains
  • focus on relative/functional body-weight strength - gains transfer to other movements
  • advanced variations and new skills needed to progress load
  • works on your core activation and stabilisation

Bench Press benefits:

  • focus on maximal/absolute pushing strength
  • faster load progressing simply by adding weights, without changing the movement
  • easier way to make your chest muscles burn with less reps
  • works more on your shoulder stabilisation

Free workout app

Download now

Post a comment

  • Afr00 Jr 53 workouts (level 19)
    I superset bench press and push-up for faster gains in both muscle mass and strength. November 12, 2016
  • @thejoggingdaddy 746 workouts (level 114)
    follow me here and see more on my insta profile ... see you friends September 07, 2016
  • Bilal Bernardot 109 workouts (level 41)
    Great comparisons.. I had considered switching to bench press, but I think I'll stick to push ups - functional strength always wins, even if it does take longer to get physical results August 07, 2016
  • vic 671 workouts (level 93)
    You can also wear a weight vest to make it harder. August 06, 2016
  • matt_ccw 239 workouts (level 76)
    Good point Bernardo. Ring push-ups much like ring dips are about 5 times harder and certainly build more stabilizing dynamic muscle. August 06, 2016

Madbarz workout app

Workouts in your pocket!