Pushups are a beneficial exercise, whether you're training for fitness, strength or muscle growth, and even for weight loss. According to John Romaniello, strength coach and author of "Final Phase Fat Loss," body-weight exercises build muscle, burn calories and boost your endurance -- and pushups are no exception. But performing only pushups in your routine may not give you the weight-loss results you're after. Eating a balanced diet and doing cardio can also help you lose weight.
Muscles Worked and Calories Burned
Pushups work your chest, shoulders, triceps and core stabilizing muscles, building your upper body strength and endurance levels. Depending on your hand and foot positioning, and your bone and joint structure, you lift around 70 percent of your body-weight during a pushup. This makes pushups a fairly good calorie burner, especially when compared to upper-body isolation exercises like curls and lateral raises. Strength training in general is also good for weight loss, because it boosts your metabolic rate.
There's no doubt that pushups are a good way to target your upper body muscles, but they're not enough to constitute a full workout. Your back and leg muscles work very little during pushups, meaning that your calorie burn potential is seriously reduced. You may also find that excessive pushups, combined with a lack of upper-back training, causes your chest and shoulder muscles to tighten. This brings your shoulders forward and gives you a hunchback posture.
If you really want to get the most out of your weight-loss workouts, include other exercises in them. By all means, have pushups as your main exercise if you enjoy doing them and want to get better at them, but train your back and legs as well. If you work out in a gym, add barbell squats, deadlifts and bent over rows. Most importantly, as far as weight loss is concerned, is to increase your cardio workout. Aim for 150 to 300 minutes of cardio per week, using such exercises as swimming, running and step aerobics.
While only doing pushups is far from optimal, it is still possible to lose weight following this training method. The most important factor in losing weight is calories. You need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight, which can be achieved through diet alone, simply by lowering your daily caloric intake. You can do so by avoiding foods that are high in sugar and fat and filling yourself with whole grains, lean proteins and vegetables.