Are Pushups Good For Weight Loss?

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Pushups are a powerful body weight that could help you build muscle at home. Find out if this exercise is also good for weight loss.

If you want to lose weight, you need to get to a point where you need more energy than is coming in from food. When this happens, your body starts to use energy stores like body fat to get the remaining needs.

Pushups are good for weight loss in the sense that they make your movements more intense and potentially help you build muscle mass.

These things increase how much energy you need, aka how many calories you burn.

That being said, there are definitely also exercises that are more effective for weight loss than pushups. If you only have a limited amount of time to work out these may have priority.

At least until you feel like your chest, tricep, and front deltoid muscles need to become bigger and stronger too.

Besides that, your habits in other lifestyle areas like nutrition often still play a big role in whether or not you will lose weight. Even with a good workout program.

Do pushups help you lose weight?

Many people know this but it is worth noting that basically any type of exercise tends to help the weight loss process to some extent.

If you want to lose fat, you need to make it so your body requires more energy to function than is coming in from food. At this point, you start using energy stores like body fat to get the remaining needs.

Pushups help you lose weight in the sense that they help you get to this point and/or can make the difference bigger to speed up your results.

They do this by increasing the intensity of your movements and potentially building some extra muscle mass. These things make it so you burn more energy aka calories.

At the same time, you need to keep in mind that lifestyle habits like nutrition still play an important role in the equation too.

You can even lose weight without doing any exercise at all if you make enough positive changes in these other areas.

How many calories pushups burn compared to alternatives

So while this exercise can benefit weight loss, this is not the only fact about pushups that matters.

You only have a limited amount of time to move more. How pushups compare to other options in this area is important too.

One way you can compare the weight loss potential of different exercises is by looking at the estimations of how many calories they burn.

Something to note first is that these estimations are not perfect. In reality, the amounts can look different for you due to differences in body composition, hormone levels, exact intensity, etc.

Additionally, the estimations only include the extra energy usage during the workout. Any extra calorie burning due to gaining muscle mass is not included.

That being said, they do give you an idea of how pushups compare to other options. The amounts are estimations for a 155-pound (70 kg) person doing the activities for 30 minutes (1):

  • Bodyweight pushups: 139 calories
  • Water Aerobics: 149 calories
  • Stretching (Hatha Yoga): 186 calories
  • Stair Step Machine (general): 223 calories
  • Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
  • Bicycling, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
  • Elliptical Trainer (general): 335 calories
  • Running 5.2 mph: 335 calories
  • Jumping rope: 372 calories
  • Swimming (breaststroke): 372 calories

As you can see, how many calories pushups burn per minute is definitely not that impressive.

Additionally, not many people will be able to do resistance training exercises for 30 minutes at a time.

Do pushups build muscle mass?

If you only look at the numbers above you would conclude that pushups are bad for losing weight.

Even so, you want to keep in mind that pushups can also help you build extra muscle mass.

This is important when it comes to losing weight because how much you weigh plays a big role in how many calories you burn.

Increasing your weight in a healthy way by building muscle makes it so you use more energy with the things you do.

Pushups work your chest, tricep, and front deltoid (shoulder) muscles. The chest muscles are actually relatively big so there is a nice amount of room for building muscle mass.

This exercise is still not the number one option but pushups can still be decent and even good for weight loss if you do them the right way.

Do pushups make you lose belly fat?

Many people get the impression that you can choose in what areas of your body you lose fat by doing specific exercises.

Unfortunately, it is generally not possible to target fat loss in significant amounts. To lose belly fat, you have to lose enough weight overall.

When your body “decides” this specific area is next, exercises like pushups can help you lose belly fat.

Again, keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like nutrition play an important role in this process. Exercise is no guarantee for fat loss.

Cardio versus HIIT versus Weight Lifting

How to do pushups for fat loss

One of the interesting benefits of pushups is that you can change your technique to focus on slightly different muscles.

A lot of the weight loss effects from pushups come from the extra muscle mass they can help you burn.

In turn, you want to do pushups in a way that focuses on the biggest muscles involved (chest) if fat loss is your goal.

Most people will also be able to do this variation for the highest amount of repetitions before fatiguing their muscles.

To do a pushup for fat loss, you first want to put your hands at about shoulder width on the ground. Next, you want to make sure your upper arms are at about 45-degree angles to your sides throughout the exercise.

The worst way of doing pushups for fat loss would be with your hands close together and your upper arms by your sides. This would put a lot of the focus on the smaller tricep muscles.

How many pushups you should do to lose weight

Choosing the right resistance training exercises is not the only important detail. The number of sets and repetitions you do influences whether or not you build muscle.

Again, a lot of the calorie-burning effects will come from the extra muscle mass.

How many pushups you should do to lose weight is generally the same as the recommendations for growing muscles.

This means about 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 (weighted) pushups with a weight where you can barely complete the ranges.

As you get stronger, you may need to do pushups with more weights to keep building muscle.

While it is not the complete picture, it can be interesting to see how many pushups you would have to do to burn certain amounts of calories while doing the exercise.

A 185-pound (83 kg) person would have to do around 12,644 pushups to burn the number of calories in one pound (0.45 kg) of body fat (3500 calories) during the workout.

Can you lose weight by doing pushups every day?

Something important to note about the pushup set and rep ranges above is that they only apply to single workouts. That does not necessarily mean you should these amounts every day.

Your body may need an extra rest day in between pushup workouts to repair and grow your muscles. Doing something like 100 pushups a day is often not the optimal way to go.

That being said, there will also be people who can recover quickly enough.

Additionally, your nutrition will influence things a lot.

These details make it so you can lose weight by doing pushups every day. Even though it is often not recommended or optimal.

woman with muscles from doing pushups

How much weight you can lose doing pushups

Knowing how much weight you can lose by doing certain amounts of pushups can be motivating.

While the numbers below can be interesting, they only take the calories you burn during the pushups into account. The weight loss results from extra muscle mass are harder to predict.

Additionally, assume the only change you make in a routine that keeps you at the same weight is adding pushups.

That being said, a 155-pound (70 kg) person can burn an extra 700 calories per 10 sessions of 15 minutes of pushups.

This comes down to about 0.2 pounds (0.09 kg) of body fat.

Similarly, this person can burn an extra 2100 calories, about 0.6 pounds of body fat, with 30 pushup sessions of 15 minutes.

Do keep in mind that as you lose weight, the same pushup workout starts burning fewer calories. At some point, you need to make more changes to keep seeing results.

Can pushups increase your weight?

As briefly mentioned before, pushups can help you increase your weight by building muscle mass.

If you don’t get to a point where you start losing fat but you do grow your chest, tricep, and front deltoid muscles, you could see the number on the scale go up.

This is not necessarily bad since extra muscle mass tends to be healthy.

At the same time, this would also mean you have to make other changes to see fat loss results.

Are pushups a good choice for weight loss?

To burn a lot of calories during your actual workouts, pushups are not a good choice.

On the flip side, this exercise can help you build a nice amount of muscle mass if you implement the right sets, repetitions, resistance, and rest periods.

This makes pushups a decent to a good choice for weight loss.

At the same time, there are workouts that help you burn more calories and resistance training exercises that can help you burn more muscle mass.

If you only have a limited amount of time, weight loss is your only goal, and you don’t specifically like pushups, these other alternatives would get priority.

On the flip side, you can only do so much resistance training for other muscles before your chest, tricep, and front deltoid muscles get left behind. At some point, you want to implement movements like pushups.

Lastly, keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like your diet play a big role in whether or not you will lose weight and how much.

Does losing weight make pushups easier?

Pushups involve pushing your body weight up against the force of gravity.

This means losing weight makes pushups easier since you have to push less resistance.

On top of that, pushups will likely just become easier as you do them more even if you don’t lose weight due to muscle size and strength increases.

The combination of these things makes it so you may need to increase the repetitions, sets, or resistance you implement in pushup workouts to keep seeing muscle growth and strength results.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.