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How Many Calories Do Push-Ups Burn?

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

We hear a lot about calories, but most of us don’t understand what they are. All of our packaged food has to, by law, state the number of calories it contains. We are told how many calories we should eat per day, depending on our gender, height, and activity level. Many people swear that calories are meaningless; others use calorie counting as their primary measure of weight gain or weight loss.

So whether you’re counting calories or not, you probably want to know how they work. Certain exercises, such as push-ups, squats, and planks, are hailed as ‘calorie-burners’ because they utilize many muscle groups.

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Related: Micro Workouts, Macro Benefits for Muscle Building and Stamina

What Are Calories?

‘Calorie’ is a word for a unit of energy. Humans need calories to survive, and every single thing you eat contains different amounts of them. Without sufficient calories, your body will lose muscle mass, your brain function slows, you feel tired, and can be unable to go about your daily life. Calories are not your enemy; they are essential to your life.

Our bodies store the calories that we eat as energy. That is why, if we eat many calories without moving much during the day, we are likely to gain weight. Our bodies store the calories we eat to expend as energy, but the energy does not get spent. The remaining energy gets stored on our bodies as extra weight.

How Do We Burn Calories?

When we move, the calories we have ingested throughout the day are ‘burned.’ This doesn’t mean they catch fire and burn away; it means that our bodies consume the calories for energy. To maintain our weight, we must burn the calories we are putting into our bodies at an approximately equal ratio. When you burn off fewer calories than you consume, you gain weight.

To lose weight, we must burn calories at a higher rate than ingesting them.

Burning calories is not the only way to lose weight; in fact, some say that limiting food intake; not exercise is the primary way to lose weight. However, understanding how many calories our exercises burn allows us to know our calorie intake/burning ratio and how this affects our weight.

How Do We Measure Calorie Burn?

The number of calories burned depends on many different factors. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all guide for calorie burning. There is no specific number of calories you burn by doing a particular exercise; it all depends on your current fitness level. The more fit you are, the longer and harder you can exercise, and therefore the more calories you will burn per workout! The main factors to consider when measuring burned calories are:

  • Your Weight

The more you weigh, the more calories you can burn in any given exercise. This is because your body weight makes your body work harder at what it’s doing. This is why professional athletes often consume a calorie-rich diet. For example, Michael Phelps, the professional swimmer, famously ate 12,000 calories per day while training for the Beijing Olympics, while swimming around 50 miles per week. He weighed in at around 90kg, at 6ft 4 inches.

  • Type of Exercises

Of course, different types of exercise burn varying amounts of calories. Cardiovascular workouts, or ‘cardio,’ burn many calories due to the high heart rate you can achieve. Activities like weightlifting also use up a lot of calories due to the muscle strength required.

  • Duration of Exercise

Those who consistently exercise for an extended period are inevitably going to burn more calories at a faster rate.

All of these contribute directly to the number of calories burned during your workout. You can access calorie burning calculators on fitness apps, but these are not 100% accurate.

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Why Are Push-Ups Good for Burning Calories?

You might consider push-ups your worst enemies; they can be tiring and challenging. Push-ups are considered compound exercises; a compound exercise is one that utilizes more than one muscle group at a time. Push-ups utilize your arm, shoulder, and back muscles, but those aren’t the only ones. They also use your core abdominal muscles, or ‘abs,’ and your pectoral muscles. Other examples of these types of exercises are pull-ups, squats, deadlifts, lunges, and bench presses.

Compound exercises burn more calories because you’re using more of your body to complete them. Push-ups force you to tense all of your muscles to support the up and down movement of your arms. When performing a push-up, you adopt a plank position and lower yourself down to the floor using your arms. When you reach the floor, you stop, your body still tensed, then push yourself back up into a plank again. This movement helps build muscles in your arms, chest, shoulders, and back, as well as advancing your core strength.

How Many Calories Can I Burn From Doing Push-Ups?

Push-ups can burn around 7 calories per minute. It may not sound like much, but in combination with other exercises during your workout, those burned calories add up quickly. The seven calories burnt depends on different factors like your weight and the intensity of the workout; you can easily burn more or less than seven calories per minute. The most critical factor in consistent calorie burning is exercising often and establishing a routine.

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