Can you do 40 consecutive proper push ups?  If so, congratulations, your chances of suffering from cardiovascular disease are far lower than someone who can’t (at least if you’re a man).  If you can’t perform 10 consecutive proper push ups, you are in the danger zone, let’s get you into the gym and build your heart some armour ASAP!

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer worldwide.  We all know that increased fitness provides protection.  I’ve read studies that correlated increased grip strength with lower all-cause mortality and the same for increased lean muscle mass.  The stronger you are, the more protected you are from illness and death, something that should be of interest as Coronavirus creeps gradually closer to our lives.

A recent study seeking an easy way to predict heart health in men used the push up.  The study has its limits as all the participants were men.  All were over 18 (mean age 39.6).  All were firefighters.  But the results concur with those of earlier studies that find measures of strength and lean muscle mass to be good predictors of health.

Participants who could perform less than 10 proper push ups (chest to floor each rep) had a higher likelihood of suffering a cardiovascular event whereas those capable of performing 40+ push ups exhibited a significantly lower risk.  The push up proved a more accurate indicator than measures of cardiovascular fitness.

Let’s be clear, it’s not the push up itself that protects you, it’s the fitness level required to perform 40+ push ups.  I bet they could do the same study using 20 strict pull ups or any other functional, full body exercise that challenges relative (not absolute) strength.

The power of the push up test is that it can be done anywhere, at anytime without any additional equipment.  I took the test immediately after reading about the study, belly full of the lunch I’d just consumed.  Yes, I can do 40+ consecutive push ups with good form.  More importantly, can you?

Thanks to Point Break for sharing a link to the study!