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Boot camp classes often include pushups.
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Pushups build strong muscles, but the move itself doesn't burn significant fat. The pushup can be part of a complete exercise program and healthy eating plan that leads to fat loss, though. Perform the move to help you build metabolically active lean muscle and get your heart pumping.
Fat Burning 101
To burn fat, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. When your body faces such a deficit, it dips into your fat stores for fuel, and you end up leaner. A set of pushups doesn't burn very many calories. Even if you do one minute straight, which is an extremely challenging feat, a 155-pound person will burn just 5 1/2 calories. It takes 3,500 calories burned beyond what you consume to lose a pound -- that's 636 minutes of pushups.
Effective Fat-Burning Cardio
Choose interval-based workouts over steady-state cardio to stimulate fat-burning hormones and encourage greater fat-oxidizing capacity in your muscles. To do an interval routine, alternate all-out spurts of high-intensity exercise with recovery bouts of equal length.
You could incorporate pushups as part of such a routine by doing a max set of pushups for 30 to 60 seconds, and then march in place for 30 to 60 seconds. The pushup set should make your heart rate skyrocket. Repeat three times as one part of a 20- to 30-minute interval routine. Other options for intervals include alternating walking and sprinting on a treadmill, or jump squats and bodyweight squats.
Pushups for Muscle
When your body has a high amount of lean muscle mass, it has to work harder all day just to keep your system running. This higher metabolism helps you burn calories and fat, even when you're resting. Pushups can be helpful in building muscle, but they aren't the only exercise you should do. You need to train all the major muscle groups in addition to the chest, particularly the back, legs, abdominals, hips and arms. Although the pushup does engage the back of the arms, the shoulders and abdominals, these muscles assist and stabilize rather than act as primary movers.
Diet Provides Key to Fat Loss
Losing weight and fat usually starts in the kitchen. Cut out excess, nonnutritive calories such as added sugars, refined grains and saturated fats. Trim your calorie intake so it's 500 to 1,000 calories fewer than what you burn daily but make sure you still get a minimum of 1,200 to 1,500 calories so your nutrition needs are covered. At meals, emphasize fresh, unsauced vegetables, lean proteins and small amounts of whole grains and fruit.