Can push-ups be used to develop stamina? For instance, could a trainee use them like running for the lower body, like doing push-ups for an hour without rest?

The physical workers that work all day round with their hands, such as blacksmiths, are known for their strong hands. They also have high stamina in their upper bodies. I'd probably be exhausted after 10 minutes if I did what they do. I get tired quickly when carrying something heavy in my hands, yet I've seen tradeswomen carrying about 20kg in each hand for kilometers. So my hands definitely require strengthening.

So would it be a good idea to do as many push-ups as possible to develop upper-body stamina? I can't imagine doing 1000 push ups at the moment, but many people don't imagine even fast walking for over an hour.

  • Is it your goal to carry heavy things over great distances? If so, you need to work on your biceps and back, not your chest and shoulders. Or did you just use that as an example?
    – user4963
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 19:12
  • I've used it as example, how weak are my 'arms' in comparison to those of people of middle ages, for example. Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 19:15
  • 2
    What is your goal? And what is your question? You've asked 6 different things.
    – user4644
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 20:24
  • I tried to edit the question to make it less focused on yourself, but I have to agree with Kate that it's still very vague…
    – Baarn
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 20:26

4 Answers 4


In theory, you can. Stamina can be trained with any kind of muscles, as long as you are getting training is a very high volume (which implies a low intensity).

Note that stamina consists of muscular endurance (which depends on the muscles that are trained), and cardiovascular endurance (which depends on the whole cardiovascular system)

In practice though, most people probably won't develop as much stamina (in terms of muscular endurance) in their upper body as in their legs, because they simply get more volume in using their legs (unless they start walking on their hands all the time). That being said, if you want to improve cardiovascular endurance, you will probably get faster results with leg workouts, because your legs already have more muscular endurance which gives you the ability of higher volume training.


The short answer is that you will build endurance in a particular task by repeating that task. If you do a lot of pushups, you will build endurance for pushups, and to an extent for other shoulder-push movements. Doing as many pushups as possible is a fine idea, if you want to be better at doing pushups. If you want to be better at carrying something heavy over a long distance, practice with something like a farmer's walk.


Like Doc stated in his answer, push-ups will help you build endurance for tasks that have motions that resemble push-ups, and not much more. It's a great starting point for the push mechanism of your upper body though, sort of like training your quadriceps with jumping squats without any added weight would do for your lower body.

But don't neglect the pulling mechanism of your upper body, which is mostly done by your biceps and your back. (hamstrings would be your closest lower body equivalent). For that, I would suggest rowing, either by machine, weights, or actually going out on a boat and rowing for a long period of time.

Finally, cardio is the determining factor in stamina and endurance. Without oxygen, your muscles will tire out quickly, so they need a constant supply of oxygen from your bloodstream. You can have huge muscles like body-builders or the 'roided up wrestlers you see on TV, but without fuel they are merely for show. Developing a stronger heart will most definitely help your stamina and endurance, probably in the most noticeable way.


This is a very interesting topic. Like what zero-divisor said you can develop stamina by training just any muscle group going for a high number of repetitions. Yes, push-ups can do the same work running will do for your legs. But however you need to ask yourself whether you want to do sprints or jogging. I will give you an example.

7 years ago I was obsessed by the idea of reaching 100 push-ups in 60 seconds(I doubt the legitimacy of my form now though). So I did, actually I got carried away and at one point reached 200 push-ups in one set. That's stamina, that's endurance. I could go on with push-ups for a while but did not have a good overall strength which I later realised when I started benching.

Nowadays I am only interested into strength training. I recently started recording a push-ups tutorial for my youtube channel and figured I would get tired at around 15-20 slow and controlled push-ups. Then I would have to take a break before doing another set.

This does not bother me for I have no interest into endurance in my upper body at this point. But I am bringing it up for you to consider. Perhaps the perfect combination for you might be a little bit of endurance and a little bit of strength to balance everything?

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