How Many Calories Are Burned During Weightlifting?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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Get the Basics...
  • It is possible to burn up to 500 calories in an hour while performing weightlifting or strength training exercises.
  • The number of calories burned during weight lifting depends on several factors.
  • The exact amount of calories burned during weight lifting will depend on how much muscle mass you have.

You may have heard the expression that, “calories count,” but do you know what a calorie is?

A calorie is a unit of measurement that applies to energy, and it refers to the amount of energy required to increase one gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.

The number of calories burned during weight lifting depends on several factors, which means there is no single answer to this question. Your age, gender, and how much muscle you have all make a difference. Additionally, the percentage of body fat that you are carrying makes a difference in how many calories you burn. Muscle does weigh more than fat, and it also burns calories at a higher rate than fat does. Each pound of muscle burns six calories per day, as opposed to two calories per day for a pound of fat.

The length and intensity of the workout also matter. However, it is possible to burn up to 500 calories in an hour while performing weightlifting or strength training exercises.

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What Are the Calorie-Burning Basics for a Weightlifting Routine?

When you look at the nutritional packaging on a food product, you will notice the number of calories per serving is listed. This number indicates how much energy is in the food.

A gram of protein contains four calories, and a gram of carbohydrates will release the same level of energy.

If your goal in lifting weights is to burn calories for weight loss, you will need to expend more calories than what you are taking in.

To lose one pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than what you are taking in from the foods you eat.

What Does Building Mass Have to Do With Burning Calories?

Once you have been lifting weights for several weeks, you should begin to notice that your body is changing. You are building up lean muscle and shedding fat.  If it doesn’t appear on the scale right away, don’t get discouraged. If you are losing fat at the same time as you are building muscle, these two values may well cancel each other out – at least at the beginning.

As you are lifting weights, you are burning calories. The benefits of this type of workout don’t end when you are finished with your set. Once you leave the gym, your muscles are busy going through Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (“EPOC”). During this process, muscles are restoring their energy supply.

The body must also bring heart and respiration rates back to a normal level. The heart works hard to pump re-oxygenated blood throughout the body and bring your body temperature back to its normal level. These processes also burn calories.

The longer and more intense your weightlifting workout was, the longer it will take your body to perform all of these functions and the more calories you will burn post-workout.

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Does Overtraining Impact Calorie Burn?

If you want to get the maximum benefit out of your weightlifting workout, it can be tempting to train every day to burn more calories. This is not the best course of action to get the results you are looking for. Your muscles need to have some time to rest and recover from the demands you have placed on them during your workout.

This process is necessary for you to build up lean muscle mass. Once your muscles have had a chance to do so, they will continue to burn calories at a higher rate than the same amount of body fat. You will continue to reap the calorie-burning benefits of regular weight training workouts after you have finished your routine.

The exact amount of calories burned during weight lifting will depend on how much muscle mass you have. Women tend to have a higher level of body fat than men, which means that they may be burning fewer calories and may find it more challenging to lose weight.

A person who is working out with weights regularly is going to build up his or her stores of lean muscle. This muscle will burn more calories than a similar amount of body fat, even when the body is at rest. All the systems in the body must use energy to keep working efficiently, and you are burning calories even when you are at rest. Getting regular exercise means that you can continue to reap the benefits of being active no matter what you are doing.

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