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Fitness » How Many Calories Does A Push Up Burn: Classic Core-Strengthening Exercise For The Win

How Many Calories Does A Push Up Burn: Classic Core-Strengthening Exercise For The Win

how many calories does a person burn per push up

How Many Calories Does A Push Up Burn

When people are trying to hit their weight loss goal, they place a lot of emphasis on their workout plan and diet. Calorie intake plays a prominent role in effective weight loss. Dieters understand that it is critical to control the amount of calories they consume. However, for some reason, many people don’t realize that it is also important to know how many calories each exercise burns. This helps to slim down faster and much more effectively. In this article you will find all the information you need about push ups – their benefits, variations, proper performance and more. But most importantly, you will find the answer to the most common question that pertains to push ups – how many calories does a push up burn?

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Benefits of push ups

Push ups belong to strength building exercises, and many people include them to their daily workout routine. If performed on a regular basis, this exercise offers a number of benefits to your body.

  • Tone your entire body

Push ups can be considered a full body workout. They engage numerous muscle groups and make your entire body strong and fit. By performing push ups on a regular basis you will also improve your muscle density (1).

  • Improve your stability and balance

By performing push ups, you train your proprioceptive muscle fibers which are responsible for keeping your body balanced. When an individual performs this type of workout, these fibers are constantly working to help them hold the position and prevent them from tipping over. Push ups train proprioceptive fibers and boost your stability and balance (1).

joint protection
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  • Support your joints

If you perform push ups properly and on a regular basis, they will strengthen the muscles around your shoulder joints. It is also important to gradually increase the amount of reps to strengthen your muscles sufficiently. Make sure not to overload low-trained muscles in order to avoid injuries. Doing everything gradually and carefully is a key to success (8). 

  • Improve your heart health

While performing push ups, you use your own body weight to strengthen your muscles. You also engage large muscle groups to lift and lower your body. This helps to significantly increase your heart rate, strengthen your heart muscles and cardiovascular system in general. By performing workouts that increase your heart rate, you can lower your blood pressure, control your insulin and blood sugar levels, keep your weight in check and cut your risk of heart disease and even cancer (8).  

What muscles do push ups work?

Many people think that push ups mainly target the upper body. Yes, chest and shoulder muscle groups, the muscles of upper and middle back, biceps and triceps – all these muscles are engaged when you perform push ups. However, because you keep your body in a plank position, you also engage some your abs, buttocks, leg and lower back muscles and more. As you can see, push ups can be classified as a full body workout (9).

what muscles do push ups work
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How many calories does a push up burn?

At first, it is important to understand that there are a number of factors that affect the amount of calories you burn. Age, sex, amounts of daily activity, body size and composition, pregnancy, breastfeeding and more – all these factors influence your daily calorie burn (2). There are also different variations of push ups and their intensity, that have their impact as well. However, in general this workout helps to burn 7 calories per 1 minute (4). 

For better understanding, if a 180-pound man performs 100 push ups in 5 minutes, he will burn approximately 34 calories. Taking into account the fact that not everybody can perform push ups for 5 minutes at a time, the amount of burned calories per training session will be even lower. For instance, 20 push ups will take about 1 minute. The bottom line is you can’t burn many calories by performing push ups (6). 

Despite the fact that push ups don’t burn many calories, you can incorporate them into your strength workout or you can pump out 20 push ups as a part of your morning exercise routine. According to research, by working out before eating, you are less likely to opt for unhealthy foods after. By sticking to such a habit you are also less likely to eat extra foods that are unnecessary for your body. Add two push ups to your daily morning exercise routine every week, and when you are able to perform 50 push ups, you will get rid of additional 100 calories each week (5).

benefits of push ups
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How to do push ups properly?

There are many types of this exercise, but you need to know how to perform at least a standard variation. Get in a high plank position, so that you balance on your toes and hands. Make sure to place your hands a little bit wider than your shoulders. It is critical that your body forms a straight line. Avoid arching or sagging your back. Now, you should tighten your core muscles, your body shouldn’t be relaxed. By engaging your abs you’ll avoid sagging. Inhale and slowly lower your body, while bending your elbows. Stop when your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Exhale and slowly get back to the starting position. It is important that your elbows are slightly bent – don’t lock them down. That’s one rep of a standard push up (7).

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Push up variations

You already know how to perform standard push ups, but this exercise has a number of variations. Below you can see a list of the most popular types of push ups for different fitness levels.

how many calories does a wall push up burn
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  • Wall push up

This type of exercise will be perfect for beginners. It targets your chest, shoulders and arms. Stand in front of the wall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands flat on the wall shoulder-width apart at shoulder height and lean forward. Your arms should be extended. Inhale and lower your body to the wall while bending your elbows. Hold this position and slowly get back to the starting point. Remember, while performing this exercise, it is important to tighten your core and glutes. Aim for 3 sets of 12 reps with short pauses between sets (9). 

  • Modified push up

This push up variation is slightly harder than the previous one. This is perfect for people who are not physically prepared for the standard one but feel that wall push up is not enough. Stand on your knees and hands. Your toes should touch the floor and hands should be below the shoulders. Keep your arms straight. Inhale and lower your body to the floor by bending the elbows. Make sure to engage your core and glutes. After a 1-second pause exhale and get back to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps with short pauses between sets (9).

how many calories does a push up burn
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  • Narrow push up

This variation is more difficult than a standard exercise. It also engages your triceps. Basically, you should follow the same instructions as for the standard push up. The only thing you have to change is the position of your hands. Place them closer to each other below your chest. Aim for 3 sets of 12 reps with short pauses between sets (9).

  • Clap push up

This is the most challenging type of push up and it is suitable for people with an advanced fitness level. Stand in a high plank position. Your hands should be placed a little bit wider apart than your shoulders. Remember about proper technique of performance – your body should for a straight line and your core muscles should be engaged. Inhale and bend your elbows to slowly lower your body close to the floor. Exhale and in one strong and quick movement straighten your arms, lift your hands off the floor and clap. Softly land on the floor with your hands. Make sure to keep your elbows slightly bent. Aim for 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps with short pauses between sets (9).

how many calories does a modified push up burn
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FAQs

How many calories does a modified push up burn?

You already know that there are a bunch of factors that influence your calorie burn. On average, by performing modified push ups for one minute, an individual can burn less than 10 calories (3). 

What are the best push ups for weight loss?

It was mentioned before that push up isn’t a be-all and end-all calorie-burning exercise. All the variations burn approximately the same amount of calories. It’s not to say that you shouldn’t use push ups and their variations to strengthen your muscles, tone your body and support your joints. If you aim to lose weight, you can add this exercise to your regular routine that should include both cardio and strength exercises. Couple working out with a healthy diet and caloric deficit, and your success is guaranteed.

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Conclusion

So, how many calories does a push up burn? Even though this is one of the most popular and effective exercises for muscle strengthening, it is not that effective for weight loss because push ups don’t burn enough calories. If your aim is to shed unwanted pounds, it is vital to combine push ups with other exercises that help to burn necessary amounts of calories. Don’t forget about a healthy diet, high quality sleep and hydration. Remember that your health is your top priority, and it is important to consult professionals before including new exercises to your routine in order to avoid injuries.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. 5 Benefits of Push Ups: Tone, Trim & Get Back in Shape (2018, food.ndtv.com)
  2. Calculating how many calories are burned in a day (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
  3. Calories Burned Doing a Modified Pushup (2019, livehealthy.chron.com)
  4. General Physical Activities Defined by Level of Intensity (n.d., cdc.gov)
  5. Here Are Some 100-Calorie Workouts For Your Work Day (2012, forbes.com)
  6. How Many Calories Do 100 Push-Ups Burn Daily? (2019, livestrong.com)
  7. How to Do Pushups (2020, verywellfit.com)
  8. What happens if you do pushups every day? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
  9. Which muscles do pushups work? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
Lana Woods

Lana Woods

Lana is an excellent writer driven largely by questions of health and mental well-being. She specializes in writing articles on both nutrition and exercise. Nothing brings her as much pleasure as helping others get their health back on track. In her works, she provides informative tips on how you can change your lifestyle for the better, develop healthy eating habits, and improve your well-being with the help of workouts. Besides, in recent years she became more interested in studying weight management, gearing her focus towards healthy weight loss approaches.

Inga Grebeniuk-Gillyer

Inga Grebeniuk-Gillyer

Hey there! I'm a European Champion in synchronized swimming who holds a Bachelor degree in Physical Education. I have experience in working with Olympic level athletes, produced National Champions, State Champions and helped athletes secure their spots on the National teams.
I don't just want to work with professional athletes. I strongly believe that my purpose is to help anybody I work with to achieve their fitness goals and become their best self.

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