Int J Sports Med 2019; 40(12): 789-795
DOI: 10.1055/a-0989-2482
Training & Testing
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Suspended Push-up Training Augments Size of not only Upper Limb but also Abdominal Muscles

Ren Kohiruimaki
1   Sports and Life Science, National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya, Kanoya, Japan
2   Metropolitan Police Department, Tokyo, Japan
Sumiaki Maeo
3   Research Organization of Science & Technology, Ritsumeikan University, Kusatsu, Japan
Hiroaki Kanehisa
4   Faculty of Sport and Health Science, Ritsumeikan University, Kusatsu, Japan
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

accepted 20 July 2019

Publication Date:
29 August 2019 (online)


We investigated the effects of sling-based, suspended push-up training on muscle size and function of upper limb and abdominal muscles. Eight men conducted suspended push-ups to failure 3 sets/session, 3 sessions/week, for 8 weeks. The maximum number of push-ups during training gradually and significantly increased from the first to last training session (+92%), suggesting improved muscle endurance. After the training, muscle thickness of the elbow extensors (+16%) and flexors (+3%), as well as abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis: RA,+27%; external oblique: EO,+14%) significantly increased. No changes occurred in maximum isometric strength of elbow extension or flexion, nor in 1-repetition maximum bench press. In a follow-up experiment, electromyograms (EMGs) of RA, EO and internal oblique (IO) during suspended push-ups to failure were measured and normalized to those during maximum voluntary contraction of each muscle (% EMGmvc) in six men. EMG significantly increased when reaching failure in all muscles (RA: 46–88%, EO: 32–50%, IO: 19–52%, start-end), and was particularly high in RA. These results suggest that suspended push-up training can augment size of not only upper limb but also abdominal muscles, likely attributable to high muscle activities during exercise; however, this does not necessarily improve maximum strength after training thus warrants careful interpretation/application.

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