Knocking out 100 push-ups in one day is a pretty impressive feat. You'd think you burned serious calories that would help you drop pounds, or at least counter an extra beer, cookie or pizza slice.
The calories burned doing 100 push-ups daily is disappointingly slim, though. Your exact burn rate depends, of course, on your size and the rigor with which you approach the exercise. But, for the average 180-pound man for whom it takes 5 minutes to complete the 100 push-ups (that's 20 push-ups per minute — a rather modest pace), the effort only expends 34 calories.
How You Do a Push-Up
If that 180-pound man pumps out push-ups at a vigorous pace, he's working harder, but it'll take less time to complete them. If it now takes 3 minutes -- approximately 33 push-ups per minute -- he'll still only burn 35 calories.
A person who weighs more will burn more calories for push-ups. For example, a 250-pound person pushing up at a moderate pace for 5 minutes burns 48 calories. Conversely, a person who weighs less — say, 130 pounds — burns fewer, just 25 calories for 5 minutes of moderate push-ups or for 3 minutes of vigorous ones.
Even if you break those push-ups up into several sets during the day, meaning that you drop and do 10 every few hours, your calorie burn will be about the same. A push-up can be challenging, but it's never done for long enough that you truly expend a lot of energy.
Considering a pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, 100 push-ups per day will do little to help anyone on a quest to lose weight. To lose that pound, you must create a calorie deficit — about 500 per day to lose just 1 pound per week.
Push-ups do, however, help you build more lean muscle mass when included as part of a comprehensive strength-training program for the whole body. A body that has a greater amount of lean mass is more efficient at burning calories all day long. This isn't due due to the energy expended with the push-ups; it's an after-effect that you'll experience after several weeks or months of training.
A better way to burn calories is through cardiovascular activity that uses the major muscle groups in a rhythmic manner for extended periods of time. For example, that 180-pound person will burn 178 calories in a 30-minute walk at a 3-mph pace. Pick it up to a jog to cover 6 miles per hour and burn 410 calories. A bike ride at a swift 12 mph for 30 minutes burns 356 calories.
To lose significant weight, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests you participate in at least 250 minutes of such cardio activity weekly.
If you're not interested in losing pounds, but just wonder what extra treats those 100 push-ups will earn you, you might be disappointed.
If you burn 35 to 50 calories with your push-up efforts, you can afford an extra:
- 2 egg whites: 34 calories
- 10 grapes: 35 calories
- 6 dill pickles: 48 calories
- 1 brazil nut: 32 calories
- 1 square of dark chocolate: 27 calories
- 8 peanuts: 43 calories
- 1/2 of a light beer: 51 calories
- 1/2 of a medium apple: 47 calories
- 1/5 slice of cheese pizza: 50 calories
Over the course of a week of doing 100 push-ups per day — you'll bank about 240 calories. Provided you didn't eat extra calories to compensate, that might earn you a special treat at Sunday brunch or Friday happy hour.
This may seem hardly worth the effort, but know that doing 100 push-ups daily earns more than calories — it enhances muscle tone, improves stamina and gives you bragging rights.