How Many Calories Do Pushups Burn?

When looking to lose weight, many people turn to cardio exercise. But you should never overlook strength training as a means of burning calories. For example, the multi-purpose pushup is a great way to build strength through your entire torso while also targeting fat.

When performed properly, pushups use the muscles of your chest, triceps, shoulders, and core to elevate you and return you to the ground. All those muscles working in concert burn, on average, eight calories per minute, according to one study that examined the calorie burn of strength-training exercises.

The study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, was a revelation, as it reclassified strength moves like pushups, lunges, squats, and pullups into the category of vigorous exercise. Previous research classified these moves as light exercise, and calculated pushups burning about four calories per minute, according to Runner's World. But further research led to a modification in the calculations used to determine energy expenditure, and revealed the higher burn rate.

Correct form is the key

The caveat is that you're only going to burn calories if you perform a pushup correctly. To do that, you need to be sure you're engaging the muscles of your core to keep your body in a straight alignment throughout the move, according to Healthline. That's true whether you're performing a pushup from your feet or your knees.

To properly perform a pushup, start in a high plank position with hands located underneath your shoulders, or slightly wider. Your middle fingers should be pointing straight ahead, according to SELF. As you lower your body to the floor, elbows should create about a 45-degree angle from the body. When your chest is close to or on the floor, push your body upward again. Engage your core muscles tightly to keep any sway out of your lower back.

If you're struggling to master pushups on the floor, try putting your hands on an elevated surface and performing them at an angle. This can make them feel slightly easier. On the contrary, to make them harder, put your feet on something elevated to perform decline pushups.

Any way you perform a pushup you're getting a good workout for a wide range of important muscles that will not only help you look better, but also help with functional, life tasks.