Can Pushups Burn Belly Fat?

While it is well-established that a program of proper diet and exercise can help you reduce belly fat, there is no scientific evidence indicating that specific activities can target fat loss in certain areas of your body. According to the Rush University Medical Center, the best way to eliminate belly fat is through a diet and exercise program that reduces fat throughout your body.

A woman is performing a push up outside. (Image: gpagomenos/iStock/Getty Images)

Types of Belly Fat

Fat stored in your abdominal, or belly, region accumulates in two areas: under your skin, where it is known as subcutaneous belly fat, and under your abdominal muscles, where it is called visceral fat. Subcutaneous belly fat may be unsightly, but it is the visceral fat that surrounds your abdominal organs and poses the greatest health risks.

Reducing Belly Fat

Reducing belly fat, or any fat for that matter, requires that you establish a negative caloric balance over a set length of time. When your daily caloric expenditure is greater than your daily intake from the foods you eat, fat stores throughout your body are used to make up for your caloric deficit. Controlling your diet can help reduce your caloric intake, and increasing your exercise activities can raise your daily caloric expenditure.

Pushup Exercises

When properly performed, pushup exercises target the muscles of you shoulders, chest and arms, including the pectoralis, deltoid and tricep muscles. To a lesser extent, other muscles of the chest and abdomen are used, including the spinal erector, rotator cuff, serratus anterior and rectus abdominus. While pushups are largely a resistance type of exercise, performing a number in quick succession can have an aerobic component, as well.

Pushups and Belly Fat

Because they primarily target muscles in your upper body, pushups have relatively little direct effect on your abdominal region. The major contribution that pushups have on helping you reduce belly fat is increasing the number of calories that your body burns during the actual exercise and for a short period afterward, as your muscles' metabolism remains elevated.

Additional Factors in Reducing Belly Fat

While pushups help build the muscles of your upper body, adding additional strength building exercises, such as curls, lunges and squats builds up the major muscle groups and increases your metabolism. In addition, adding a daily aerobic routine of 60 to 90 minutes of brisk walking, running, swimming or cycling burns a significant number of calories, which combined with a healthy diet plan burns the excess fat in the body -- including belly fat.

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