Can Doing Pushups & Situps Help Me Lose Weight?

Pushups and situps may not burn calories as fast as aerobics, but they can help you develop a leaner body. Although the standard, equipment-free forms of pushups and situps can get the job done, using additional equipment or varying the form of these exercises can make your workout more effective and prevent boredom. If you have back trouble, consult a health care provider or experienced fitness trainer about performing situps safely.

Beautiful woman doing crunches on the grass
Woman doing situps on grass (Image: AntonioGuillem/iStock/Getty Images)

Calories Burned

Calisthenics are simple, rhythmic exercises such as pushups, situps, jumping jacks and calf raises. If you weigh 175 pounds, you can burn an average of 189 calories with half an hour of moderate calisthenics or 336 calories with half an hour of vigorous calisthenics, note experts from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. In addition to cutting excess calories from your diet, you should burn at least 300 calories per workout four to six days weekly. Burning 300 calories would require about 27 minutes of continuous, vigorous pushups and situps or other calisthenics, or 48 minutes if you exercise at a moderate intensity.

Forget Spot Reduction

While burning more calories can help you lose fat, situps can't target belly fat and pushups won't trim fat from your arms or chest specifically. You may find you lose belly fat first, though. Abdominal fat is typically visceral fat, which tends to come off relatively quickly in response to improved diet and exercise, note health experts from the University of Alabama. Fat on the arms is subcutaneous fat, which is harder to lose, but doesn't pose as much of a health risk as visceral fat.

Gaining Muscle

Because pushups and situps are strength-training exercises that work the muscles, you may gain some weight when you start performing these exercises regularly. Stressed muscles may retain fluids, causing you to gain 3 or 4 pounds in the first few days of starting your workout routine. After several weeks of working out, you may start gaining muscle mass in your arms and abdomen. Pound for pound, muscle takes up less space than fat, so your belly or other areas may become smaller from fat loss even if you gain weight from muscle.

More Efficient Calorie Burning

Wearing a weighted vest while you perform pushups and situps helps you burn more calories. If you weigh 175 pounds and wear a 25-pound weighted vest, bringing your weight to 200 pounds, you can burn 216 calories in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity calisthenics. Plyometric pushups also burn more calories than standard pushups. These require using explosive force to push your upper body up high enough that your hands leave the ground during the upward phase of the pushup.

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