Pushups Vs Planks: Calorie Burn, Muscle Growth,…

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Bodyweight exercises can be helpful but there are many options to choose from. Find out how pushups and planks compare in important areas.

Pushups are an exercise that can help you grow and strengthen your chest, tricep, and front deltoid (shoulder) muscles if you implement a good workout routine.

Because they are more dynamic and work bigger muscle groups, pushups will also be more effective than planks for building muscle mass, burning calories, and losing weight.

On the flip side, you could argue that planks are better than pushups if your only goal is to improve core muscle endurance.

There is some amount of personal preference involved but pushups or other plank alternatives will be better choices than planks for most fitness goals.

DetailPushupsPlanks
Calories Burned*30-50+ calories20-40+ calories
Main Muscles WorkedChest, Triceps,
Front Deltoids
Core
Building Muscle MassGreatBad
Improving Core
Muscle Endurance
Not GoodGood
Busy Schedule FriendlyVery GreatGreat
Complexity To DoEasyVery Easy
Pushups vs planks overview

*Approximation for a 155-pound person doing the exercise for 5 minutes

Calories burned pushups vs planks

One of the main plank and pushup statistics people care about when comparing these exercises is how many calories each movement burns.

Something to know first is that it is hard to make accurate predictions when it comes to the number of calories people burn with workouts.

The actual numbers vary a lot from person to person due to differences in details like age, weight, body composition, key hormone levels, etc.

Something else that makes the predictions harder for resistance training exercises like pushups and planks is that a lot of their calorie-burning effects come from the extra muscle mass you can build.

This aspect of planks and pushups helps you lose weight because how much you weigh plays a big role in how much energy your body needs.

More muscle mass means burning more calories with everything you do.

That being said, the estimations below do give you some idea about what you can expect from each exercise.

It becomes clear that pushups are better than planks when it comes to burning the most calories in the least amount of time.

Calories burned with pushups

To find out how these amounts were calculated and how you can burn more, you can read the article about how many calories pushups burn.

Time
Weight Person
1 Minute15 Minutes30 Minutes45 Minutes60 Minutes
125 Pounds (56 kg)6 calories89 calories177 calories266 calories354 calories
155 Pounds (70 kg)7 calories110 calories220 calories330 calories439 calories
185 Pounds (83 kg)9 calories131 calories262 calories393 calories524 calories
215 Pounds (97 kg)10 calories152 calories305 calories457 calories610 calories
Chart of calories burned with heavy and vigorous pushups

Calories burned with planks

Similarly, the article about how many calories planks burn can be helpful. It offers details about how the estimations were calculated on how to make this exercise more effective in this area.

A 1 minute plank is equivalent to approximately 14 push-ups in terms of calorie-burning during the workout.

Time
Weight Person
1 Minute15 Minutes30 Minutes45 Minutes60 Minutes
125 Pounds (56 kg)4 calories66 calories133 calories199 calories266 calories
155 Pounds (70 kg)5 calories82 calories165 calories247 calories330 calories
185 Pounds (83 kg)7 calories98 calories197 calories295 calories393 calories
215 Pounds (97 kg)8 calories114 calories229 calories343 calories457 calories
Chart of calories burned by planking

Pushups vs planks for fat loss

Some people believe that you can heavily influence from what areas you burn fat by doing certain exercises.

However, just because you feel your core muscles work during planks does not necessarily mean they help you lose belly fat.

First of all, you need to get to a point where you need more energy to function than is coming in from food. When this is the case, your body starts using energy stores like body fat.

Even if you get to this point, the fat burned does not necessarily come from your belly. Whether or not this is the case and to what extent depends on details like your genes and how far you are in your weight loss journey.

So both pushups and planks could help you lose (belly) fat with good habits in other lifestyle areas like nutrition. However, just doing these exercises is often not enough to achieve this fitness goal.

With that in mind, pushups are typically better than planks for fat loss because they help you burn more calories.

Man doing plank

Muscles worked pushups vs planks

Pushups and planks are both resistance training exercises which means they focus on working your muscles. That being said, what muscles you target is very different.

More specifically, pushups mainly work your chest, tricep, and front deltoids (shoulders).

You do also engage core muscles like your abs and obliques when doing pushups.

However, the muscles above will likely fatigue long before your core muscles had a good workout if you do the right amounts of pushups to build muscle.

On the other hand, planks mainly work the same core muscles as above. There is not much involved in this exercise besides keeping your body in a straight line with the help of your abs and obliques.

Are pushups or planks better for building muscle?

Another important thing to know is that just doing a resistance training exercise is not enough to actually build muscle.

To achieve this, you need to work the muscles with enough resistance and repetitions.

Pushups, potentially modified or weighted ones, are great for building muscle. Since the chest muscles are relatively big, this exercise can help you build a nice amount of muscle mass.

On the other hand, planks are an isometric (static) exercise.

This is an important detail because isometric exercises are typically less effective than more dynamic exercises like sit-ups for growing (core) muscles.

In simpler words, planks are not that good for building muscle mass.

What option is better for core muscle endurance?

Planks are not great for bigger abs but that does not mean they don’t do anything for your core muscles. Isometric exercises like planks can still improve endurance in these body parts.

Your abs and obliques help you keep your body upright.

Improving endurance in these muscles can make daily activities like walking, climbing up the stairs, standing up, and running more comfortable and convenient.

On the other side, improving core muscle endurance is not really one of the positive effects of pushups.

Your chest, tricep, and front deltoid muscles will likely fatigue before your core muscles had a good endurance workout.

Ease of implementation in your routine

To get the benefits of working out you actually need to do the exercises in your plan. How easy it is to implement pushups in your routine vs planks is a relevant detail.

That being said, both of these exercises are relatively easy to implement.

You can do pushups and planks basically everywhere you are.

Additionally, you don’t need much time to do these exercises in the amounts that are recommended for muscle growth, strength, and endurance progress.

If you want to get really detailed, you can say that planks take up just a bit more time. You can likely hold this stance longer than you can do pushups.

That being said, the difference is not really significant in the context of a 24-hour day.

Complexity to do pushups vs planks

Certain exercises and activities are relatively complicated to do and/or require a good amount of time before you can make the most of them.

Some examples include certain kettlebell exercises like Turkish get-ups or activities like dancing or jumping rope.

This makes it more mentally straining to do your workouts and requires more time before you get the full health benefits.

That being said, this area is again not that relevant when comparing pushups and planks.

Pushups are a bit more complicated in terms of technique but they are still very doable.

What is better, pushups or planks?

In many exercise comparisons, there is an argument to be made for both options.

However, when comparing pushups and planks, there are not many situations where someone would actually want to choose planks.

Pushups are better than planks for building muscle mass, burning calories, and losing weight. They also require a bit less time to do.

On the other hand, planks are mainly good for improving core muscle endurance.

It is true that this can be a good fitness goal. However, more dynamic core muscle exercises will often offer more endurance progress in a shorter amount of time.

That being said, personal preference also plays a certain role when deciding between two exercises.

Even if pushups are better than planks in most areas, you could still consider choosing this second exercise. Planks still offer a few valuable benefits to some extent.

FAQ

Can planks replace pushups?

Planks can be a good choice instead of if you are only interested in training core muscle endurance. However, for fitness goals like building (chest, tricep, and front deltoid) muscle mass, burning calories, and losing weight, planks can not replace pushups.

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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.