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Do Pushups Burn Fat?

author image Brenda Barron
Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.
Do Pushups Burn Fat?
Man doing push-up's Photo Credit: Adam Gault/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Pushups are an exercise suitable for many fitness regimens. Despite their benefits, don't expect to perform pushups all day to lose weight; pushups are a strength-training exercise, not an aerobic exercise. In order to burn fat, turn to such aerobic exercises as running, swimming or biking. Although these exercises are effective at burning fat, pushups can still play a role in your workout.

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Spot Reduction

Pushups don't burn fat quickly because they don't result in a significantly elevated heart rate, Aerobic activities, meanwhile, boost your heart rate and lead to calories burned quickly. Spot reduction, the theory that you can burn fat in a desired area, isn't possible. If you want to burn fat, you must perform exercises that work out your entire body and burn calories, such as running.


Pushups can play a role in burning fat when it comes to improving your metabolism. Building muscle mass increases your resting metabolic rate, meaning you burn more fat even while sitting. Gaining 3 lbs. of muscle weight can help you burn more than 600 extra calories per week. Thus, while pushups don't burn significant fat directly, they can help you burn fat by increasing your metabolism.

Circuit Training

If you include pushups in your circuit training program, they can be beneficial. Circuit training involves performing a variety of exercises in rapid succession, devoting no more than a minute to each. A circuit might include running on a treadmill, pushups, situps, squats, lunges, cycling and lifting weights. The rapid succession of even strength-training exercises adds a cardiovascular element, meaning you'll burn more calories and fat than you would if you performed them at a slower rate.

Increase the Challenge

Instead of just performing standard pushups, you can increase the challenge and execute more complicated variations of the exercise, which makes your body work harder and adds a slight cardiovascular element to the exercise. Examples of more challenging pushups include incline and decline pushups, diamond pushups and wide-stance pushups.

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