Planks Vs. Push-Ups [Bodyweight Exercise Comparison]

Push-ups are far more effective than planks for building muscle, burning calories, increasing muscular endurance, and developing cardiovascular health. Push-ups provide an intense workout for your chest, arms, and shoulders that planks don’t provide. Additionally, push-ups work the same core muscles used in planks since correct push-ups require you to hold the plank position. You’ll get more benefits from push-ups than planks, so you should prioritize push-ups in your exercise routine.

Planks vs Push-Ups

What are the Benefits of Planks?

Planks primarily provide a workout for your core muscles. This includes your abdominals, obliques, and the erector spinae muscles of your lower back. Planks are a great way to build core strength. This can reduce back pain, improve posture, and increase the strength needed for compound exercises, such as squats.

  • Planks provide a workout for your core muscles.
  • Your abs, lower back, and obliques will all be worked by planks.
  • Planks build core strength needed for more advanced ab exercises and compound exercises.

Planks are also a great training tool that prepares you for more advanced ab exercises, such as the ab wheel rollout. So, planks are typically considered a great beginner core exercise with very low injury risk.

What are the Benefits of Push-Ups?

Push-ups provide a variety of benefits for your upper body. Primarily, push-ups build muscle in your chest, shoulders, and arms. However, because the push-up position is so similar to the plank position, they also work your core. Maintaining proper form during push-ups requires your core to work throughout the exercise, so push-ups provide the benefits of planks, plus more.

  • Push-ups are known for building muscle in your chest, arms, and shoulders.
  • Your abs, obliques, and lower back work during push-ups, so you also get the same benefits as planks.
  • Because push-ups require movement, they have more cardiovascular benefits than planks.

By performing push-ups you’ll build chest, shoulder, and arm strength, but your abs, obliques, lower back, and upper back will all be worked as secondary muscles. Not only that, but performing push-ups is a much more challenging cardiovascular exercise than planks, adding even more benefits to push-ups.

What are the Differences Between Planks and Push-Ups?

The main difference between planks and push-ups is that planks are an isometric exercise while push-ups are an isotonic exercise. What does isometric vs. isotonic mean though? Isometric exercises are exercises where the muscle contracts without a bending motion that shortens or lengthens the muscle. Isotonic exercises require movement or joint flexion during muscle contraction.

Because planks require you to hold still, they are an isometric exercise. Isometric exercises are less effective at building strength, endurance, and overall fitness than isotonic exercises. In summary, you’ll get less from an exercise that requires you to hold still. You’ll get more from an exercise that requires movement.

  • Planks are an isometric exercise that do not require movement.
  • Push-ups are an isotonic exercise that involves movement.
  • Isometric exercises (like planks) are not as effective at building muscle and endurance as isotonic exercises (like push-ups).
  • Both exercises require only isometric contraction of the core muscles.
  • In addition to isometric core exercise, push-ups provide isotonic exercise for muscles in your chest, shoulders, arms, and back.

Push-ups are an isotonic exercise that requires movement. The muscles of your arms, shoulders, and chest shorten and lengthen as you perform push-ups, providing incredible results for these muscles. However, both push-ups and planks only require isometric contraction for your core muscles. This means push-ups are on par with planks when it comes to working your abs, but the real benefit comes from what push-ups provide to your other upper body muscles.

Is it Better to Do Planks or Push-Ups? [Exercise Face-Off]

Before you invest time in either push-ups or the plank exercise, it’s important to know the benefits of drawbacks of both of these common exercises. Both the plank and push-ups are useful, but choosing one over the other depends on your fitness level and training goals. Here is the information you need to make your decision.

Planks Vs. Push-Ups: Which is Better for Building Muscle?

Push-ups are a far better muscle-building tool than planks. Not only do push-ups engage far more muscle groups than planks, the range of motion of a push-up triggers isotonic contractions. Working your muscles through movement is far more effective at building strength, muscle size, and tone than exercises that require you to hold still. Planks require you to hold a static position, which makes them less effective at muscle-building.

  • Push-ups build far more muscle than planks.
  • You will build chest, arm, and shoulder muscle with push-ups.
  • Planks will not build upper body muscle.
  • Push-ups have similar core-building benefits as planks.

Planks are an entirely isometric exercise. So, you won’t build nearly as much muscle by holding a plank as you will by doing push-ups. Both require you to keep your core muscles tight, so they provide similar benefits to your abs, lower back, and obliques. However, push-ups provide benefits to a large number of upper body muscles that planks neglect.

Planks vs Push-Ups: Which is Better for Increasing Endurance?

The isotonic movement of push-ups makes them much better for increasing endurance and cardiovascular health than planks. Performing 3–5 sets of push-ups with 60–90 seconds of rest between sets will get your heart rate up, which is great for your cardio health. Planks, on the other hand, will make your muscles burn but they won’t make you breathe heavily or raise your heart rate considerably.

  • Push-ups build muscular endurance much better than planks.
  • The isotonic movement of push-ups will raise your heart rate, resulting in more cardiovascular endurance.
  • Planks will increase core strength but won’t build overall endurance.

By performing push-ups you’ll increase your endurance for all types of fitness. You’ll also get a decent cardio workout from push-ups. Planks will build core strength and you will get better at holding planks for a long time, but you won’t build overall endurance.

Planks vs Push-Ups: Which Burns More Calories?

Push-ups burn 7 calories per minute while planks only burn 2–5 calories per minute. So, if you want to choose the exercise that will help burn calories for weight loss, push-ups are the clear winner. We even have a plan for how to use push-ups to lose weight. Because they require isotonic movement, push-ups have much higher calorie-burning potential than planks.

  • Calories Burned Per-Minute – Planks: 2–5
  • Calories Burned Per-Minute – Push-Ups: 7
  • Planks are not a good calorie burning exercise.
  • Push-ups are an okay calorie burning exercise—they are a better choice than planks.
  • Both planks and push-ups burn far fewer calories than aerobic exercise like running, cycling, rowing, or swimming.

It’s important to note that neither push-ups nor planks are ideal calorie-burning exercises. For comparison, 1 minute of running burns 11–17 calories each minute. This makes running about twice as effective at burning calories as push-ups. Running is 3–8 times better at burning calories than planks. Planks are one of the least effective exercises if you want to burn calories, so they should not be the centerpiece of a weight loss exercise program.

Planks vs Push-Ups: Which is Better for Beginners?

Planks are a much easier exercise for beginners to start with than push-ups. Although push-ups are a common exercise, they are not easy. Maintaining good form during push-ups requires a medium fitness level. If you are struggling with push-ups, planks can help build your core so you can take the leap to push-ups in the future.

  • Planks are a great beginner exercise.
  • Push-ups are more challenging for beginners—you may need to work your way up to standard push-ups.
  • Train your core muscles to maintain proper push-up form by doing planks.
  • Start with knee push-ups to build strength for regular push-ups.

If you want to start doing push-ups instead of planks because of their increased muscle building, endurance training, and calorie-burning potential, start with knee push-ups. Try out our beginner deck of cards push-up workout. By combining planks and knee-push-ups, you’ll build the strength to move from planks to push-ups in no time.

Are Push-Ups and Planks Enough?

Push-ups and planks are not sufficient for a workout routine. Both focus on the upper body and core muscles. To build a well-rounded workout program it’s essential to include exercises for your lower body. Consider adding exercises such as squats, lunges, and pull-ups to create a full-body training routine.

  • Push-ups and planks alone will not provide a full training program.
  • Make sure to include exercises that train your legs, biceps, and back to build the muscles push-ups and planks don’t work.
  • Consider adding cardio training to your plan to hit weight loss goals.

Both push-ups and planks are good exercises, but those two exercises alone are not enough to build your fitness. If weight loss is your goal, pair push-ups, and planks with a cardio routine, such as running or cycling.

Should You Do Planks or Push-Ups?

If you have a choice between push-ups and planks, push-ups will win every time. Here’s why:

  • Planks only work the core muscles.
  • Push-ups work the core muscles as well as arms, shoulders, and chest muscles.
  • You’ll burn more calories with push-ups than planks.
  • Push-ups are better for building endurance and muscle than planks.
  • If you’re not ready for standard push-ups, use planks and knee push-ups to build your fitness level.

None of this is meant to say that planks are a bad exercise. They are a useful core-training tool for beginners, but they simply don’t have as many benefits as push-ups. It’s best to use planks as a training tool so you can take on push-ups and other advanced exercises as you grow stronger.

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