Pushups vs Pull-ups – which is better?
- The debate RAGES on ...!

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Dear Reader,

My apologies for the radio silence over the past couple of days. Been busier than a bee trying to build a hive – or a swarm of bees, for that matter – or a SNAKE tracking it’s prey cautiously for that matter.

Speaking of snakes, I was out there today on the hill – and saw a couple of “gardening” staff caught unawares by a largish snake – actually a pretty large one to be honest!

Although it likely was NOT poisonous, I think I’ll avoid that area of the hill in terms of my Eat More – Weigh Less workouts from now on if you get my drift, haha!

Anyway, so as you can tell from the subject line of the email, we’re back to that age old question – and one that folks debate endlessly both online and offline.

Pushups – or pull-ups – which is better, and why? Which should I do? Which is better for strength training?

Conditioning? A 6 pack – or even a 12 pack? Or a 12 inch you know what ….

OK, so I went kinda overboard there w.r.t the last comment, but you get my drift.

I’ve spoken about this topic before, but for some reason I felt compelled to speak about it today as I made my way up the hill (getting in a magnificent CORE workout as I did so – more on that later!) – so here goes!

First off and before starting this, bear in mind that there isn’t any one size fits all answer here – and neither is there necessarily any better choice.

BOTH are GREAT – EXCELLENT – exercises in their own right, and I’d say do both – as I do – and do ’em regularly!

Do ’em in sets – combos – make up your own routines – whatever – but just do ’em – and do ’em BOTH.

That said, what if I had to choose one? Or, if I had to choose one for you, the reader, that won’t be satisfied with a “both” answer?

Well, in the 0 Excuses Fitness book I say the pushup is the BIG DOG when it comes to exercise, and RIGHTLY so. 

In other words, if you had to choose one exercise to do – it would be the pushup – in all it’s shapes, forms, guises and many variations.


Well, there are tons and tons of reasons, but I’ll give you five compelling ones today (though note that none of these means the pull-up is to be avoided or ignored!).

First, and perhaps most importantly, pushups are easier for the newbie to do – and pushups lend themselves to far easier progression than the pull-up does.

It’s far easier for the average overweight adult (and I’m speaking in relative terms here) to work up to 50 pushups in a workout than it is 50 pull-ups if I might say so.

Second, pushups give you a fantastic CORE workout – and I know very few other exercises with the exception of trekking hills and swimming that do the same thing.

Third, pushups work almost every muscle – not just in the upper body – but lower as well.

Want to work the grip? Pushups have you covered.

Want to work the triceps – or shoulders in particular? Pushups again!

Want to work the CORE – the midsection – the “six pack” area – again – pushups got you covered there, and how!

Fourth … but wait.

At this point I can hear the pull-up maniacs revolting.

Wait a minute, Rahul, I can almost hear them saying. You know damn well pull-ups build the upper body in a way few other exercises can – brute strength if I may – and they give you an excellent ab/core workout!

Well, true, my friend, but here is the deal.

The core does NOT just consist of the abs.

The core is everything from beneath your lower chest to your knees. That includes your lower back, hips, hip flexors, groin, thighs and hamstrings (and anything else I might have missed including the six pack muscles, of course).

And while it is true that certain advanced variations of the pull-up DO tax the core as I’ve mentioned it above (for more, see “Pull-ups – from STUD to SUPER STUD“) – they are nowhere near as core heavy as pushups done right are.

As for strength, YES, pull-ups do build brute strength – but only in ONE plane of motion, while pushups quite literally build your body from ALL angles – and ALL directions – something that isn’t possible with the pull-up.

Fourth, pushups are TIME efficient – and there is solid ROI in terms of time invested in working out.

You’ll see what I mean when you get to the point that you can knock off 100 pushups in 15 minutes or less – or 250 odd in 25 minutes.

I don’t think you can knock off 250 odd pull-ups in 25 minutes – well, at least not the average trainee. I’m sure there are human versions of King Kong out there that can do it – but I haven’t met any as yet – and I certainly don’t think that many pull-ups is doable on a daily basis anyway.

Fifth, and this is elementary – pushups require NO equipment. Just you and the floor – and we all have that don’t we?

So there you go my friend. Five great reasons for you to start doing pushups – and a ton of them – TODAY – and if you aren’t yet on the 0 Excuses Fitness train – well – jump on right here, my friend – https://0excusesfitness.com/0excusesfitnessystem/

Last, but not least, I’ll end by throwing a spanner into the works.

If there was truly only ONE exercise I could do – again – it would be a pushup – but which one?

The handstand pushup, my friend.


Well, that is a topic for another email. For now, it’s adios – and I’ll be back again later!


Rahul Mookerjee

P.S. – Here is a great little course that folks have been raving about (in terms of core building) – – https://0excusesfitness.com/corrugated-core/


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