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Pushups vs. Burpees

author image Roger Cahill
Roger Cahill has been a health and fitness professional since 2004. Cahill holds a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology from Arizona State University. He also has excelled as a professional runner and was a former Sun Devil Student Athlete. Cahill has earned his American Council of Exercise personal training certification and has trained many professional athletes.
Pushups vs. Burpees
Pushups and burpees both work the upper body. Photo Credit DragonImages/iStock/Getty Images

Pushups and burpees are both body-weighted exercises that activate the muscles of your arms, chest and core. While both exercises build muscular strength and endurance, burpees can also be considered an aerobic exercise because they significantly increase your heart rate. Pushups, however, require more strength and stability.

Pushup Form

Correct pushup form is crucial for preventing injuries and seeing results. Begin your pushup by starting on all fours and place your palms slightly wider than your shoulders. Draw your navel in and lift your knees up, holding at the top of a pushup. Keep a neutral gaze and slowly bend your elbows and lower your body until your body is parallel to the floor and you have a 90-degree bend in the elbows. Slowly press your way back up.

Burpee Form

Start a burpee from a standing position. Draw your navel in during your entire exercise to protect the back. Squat down and put your palms on the floor just below your shoulders. Transfer your weight forward onto your arms and jump your feet back, landing at the top of a pushup. Pause for a moment and jump your feet back to a squat and stand all the way back up, lifting your arms up above your head.

Burpee Breakdown

Both burpees and pushups target the same muscle groups and require no equipment. Burpees are more of a plyometric movement, which allows you to increase your heart rate and burn more calories during your activity. However, if you have a knee injury or are new to exercise, burpees may not be your best option. You may consider mastering a pushup to build more strength before your perform a burpee.

Pushup Breakdown

Pushups are a low-impact exercise that focuses on building strength. Burpees simply require you to hold the top of a pushup while pushups use your entire body weight as resistance to build muscle by pushing your body up and down. Pushups are a low-risk injury exercise and can be made more challenging by adding a slow tempo, decline or even an unstable surface to your exercise.


It is important to establish your fitness goals before choosing pushups or burpees for your workout. Burpees yield a higher caloric burn because of their dynamic movement, while pushups yield more muscle-building results in the upper body and core strength.

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