Have you ever done a set of push-ups and wondered, “Hm, I wonder how many calories do push-ups burn?”
Here’s everything you need to know about push-ups, their caloric burn, and how they relate to our weight loss efforts.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
How Many Calories Do Push-Ups Burn?
Contrary to popular belief, push-ups don’t burn a significant amount of calories. They are not a cardiovascular activity, so you can’t burn a lot of calories by doing them.
Still, you can expect a small to moderate expenditure if you do a few sets of push-ups with a moderate level of intensity.
To make push-ups more calorically-costly, people often try to do them too fast or at odd angles. First of all, doing push-ups more quickly or at an odd angle likely won’t result in a higher caloric burn. Second, doing them that way increases the risk of technique breakdown, which itself makes you much more likely to injure yourself. Proper form is always Rule #1!
So, remember that proper form is key to preventing injuries, being able to do push-ups year-round, and getting the most benefit from them. Proper form in a controlled motion will always be the #1 priority when doing push-ups.
The Real Reason Why You Should Do Push-Ups For A Caloric Burn
Yes, doing push-ups solely for their caloric burn isn’t going to be of much benefit. But there are some important reasons why you should do them.
The real key to using push-ups for caloric expenditure is to perform the exercise to build lean muscle. This is because skeletal muscle is metabolically-costly tissue – the body expends calories to keep it around. According to Dr. Cedric Bryant (the chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise), muscle burns three times more calories than adipose tissue (fat). (1)
According to Christopher Wharton, Ph.D., ten pounds of muscle would burn about 50 calories in a day spent at rest. At the same time, ten pounds of fat would barely burn up to 20 calories in the same amount of time. (2)
So, the question of, “How many calories do push-ups burn?” is not the best one to ask. A much better question to ask is:
“How can I best use push-ups in a solid weight loss plan, and what are the long-term implications?”
And to calculate the number of calories you burn doing push ups in a given time period, click the button below and select push ups from the drop down list on the next page:
The Best Way To Use Push-Ups In A Solid Fitness Plan
The best way to include push-ups in a fitness plan (especially one that aims to help you lose weight) is to follow a dual approach. Meaning, instead of focusing on burning calories with push-ups, you’ll combine them with other activities.
Click to see a push up workout routine, which is a chest workout without equipment.
Here’s an example:
Do 20 to 30 minutes of cardio every day to burn calories and stimulate fat loss. Also, include push-ups and other resistance exercises to build muscles, which, as we covered above, burns up to five times more calories than fat.
For example, you can follow this schedule:
- Monday: 20-30 minutes of cardio + push-ups and other chest movements
- Tuesday: 20-30 minutes of cardio + back resistance exercises
- Wednesday: 20-30 minutes of cardio + shoulder exercises
- Thursday: 20-30 minutes of cardio + lower-body exercises
- Friday: 20-30 minutes of cardio + bicep and tricep exercises
- Saturday: 20-30 minutes of cardio
- Sunday: 20-30 minutes of cardio
- Waehner, P. (2021, November 17). How many calories does muscle really burn? Verywell Fit.
- Christopher Wharton – Person. Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation. (2015, December 1). https://sustainability.asu.edu/person/christopher-wharton/