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What Do Pushups Do to Your Body?

author image William McCoy
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.
What Do Pushups Do to Your Body?
Pushups are a simple exercise that can improve your fitness. Photo Credit Maridav/iStock/Getty Images

Whether you're an avid fitness buff who performs pushups during breaks at work or someone who just occasionally tries this exercise at home, doing pushups has many benefits. Including this simple body-weight activity in your workout routine isn't just a way to gain strength. Every time you lift your body off the ground, you're helping your health.

Stronger, Healthier Muscles

What Do Pushups Do to Your Body?
Pushups can help strengthen your muscles. Photo Credit Maridav/iStock/Getty Images

Many people perform pushups for their muscle-strengthening benefits. Although you can also strengthen your muscles with free weights, body-weight exercises are convenient in virtually any location. This exercise strengthens a long list of muscles, including your pectorals, deltoids, triceps, biceps, abdominals, obliques, quadriceps and erector spinae. You won't see noticeable muscle growth after one workout, but if you stay dedicated to the exercise, you'll look and feel stronger over time.

A Step on Your Fat-Loss Journey

What Do Pushups Do to Your Body?
Pushups will burn calories slowly. Photo Credit AmmentorpDK/iStock/Getty Images

Although you're unlikely to lose a significant amount of weight by only performing pushups, this exercise can contribute to your fat-loss goals. Pushups burn calories slowly; a 150-pound person burns just 57 calories in 10 minutes doing pushups, compared with 130 calories in 10 minutes of running at 7 mph. However, the added perk to this exercise is its ability to increase your metabolism. Strength training is an effective way to kick-start your basal metabolic rate, which leads to more calories burned throughout the day, and pushups are an easy way to add strength training to your workout routine.

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A Healthy Body and Mind

What Do Pushups Do to Your Body?
Strength training exercises can improve your flexibility. Photo Credit Osuleo/iStock/Getty Images

Pushups are an ideal way to improve your overall health, beyond strengthening your muscles and helping burn calories. Strength-training exercises such as pushups can improve your flexibility, increase your stamina, limit discomfort from ongoing medical conditions, strengthen your heart, improve your bone density and make routine movements easier. As you develop a fitter physical body through exercises such as pushups, you might also notice an increase in your self-esteem and confidence.

Slow and Steady Is Best

What Do Pushups Do to Your Body?
Don't do too much at first. Photo Credit Monkey Business Images/Monkey Business/Getty Images

Given the many benefits of pushups, it's tempting to perform this exercise whenever you have a spare moment. Frequent strength training, however, can lead to overtraining and muscle soreness. Limit your strength-training workout to two days per week, ideally with two days of rest between each session to give your muscles and joints ample time to recover. Always work all your muscle groups equally -- don't perform pushups as your only strengthening exercise. A proper pushup begins with lying on the floor on your front, with your palms facing downward just outside your shoulders. Tighten your core muscles and lift your body by straightening your arms. Maintain a straight back, keep your core muscles tight and bend your arms until you lower your body back toward the floor to finish your first rep. Use pushups as part of a balanced strength-training routine that includes dynamic stretches before the workout to warm up and static stretches afterward to cool down.

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