How many calories does weight lifting burn?

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  • I used to run 2-5 miles a day topping out at 10-20 miles per week. Because of a broken ankle I had to stop. I picked up weight lifting because it's pretty stationary. I have to tell you after a hard workout lifting not more than 25 pound on an upper body exercise (arm curls, rowing machine etc.) and doing not more than 40 -60 pounds on a lower body exercise (squats etc.) my body has never looked better. AND while I'm weightlifting, I sweat like I did when I was running and breathe just as heavily and often times not able to have a decent conversation. I by far think weightlifting is a bona fide cardio exercise. When I do circuit training, my heart beat increases, my chest heaves, can't catch my breath and sweat like it's raining outside. I used to have to run every day to keep in shape, I weight lift about three to four times a week for 30 to 45 minutes and I'm two dress sizes smaller and I eat more food. I'm sure this is because of the afterburn of weightlifting. I used to have to run just about everyday to stay in decent shape. The cardio left me looking like a small flabby person. The weights make me look Pah-DOW! You gotta do it. Trust me, weightlifting is cardio. Is it possible to burn 500 in 20 - 30 minutes, probably if you're a professional body builder. I think I can easily burn 250 in a 30 minute session. The fatigue I feel surely confirms it for me. The recovery is longer than if I'd done the running.
  • fitmom4lifemfp
    fitmom4lifemfp Posts: 1,572 Member
    Oh good LORD that is ridiculous!
  • JoRocka
    JoRocka Posts: 17,553 Member
    I used to run 2-5 miles a day topping out at 10-20 miles per week. Because of a broken ankle I had to stop. I picked up weight lifting because it's pretty stationary. I have to tell you after a hard workout lifting not more than 25 pound on an upper body exercise (arm curls, rowing machine etc.) and doing not more than 40 -60 pounds on a lower body exercise (squats etc.) my body has never looked better. AND while I'm weightlifting, I sweat like I did when I was running and breathe just as heavily and often times not able to have a decent conversation. I by far think weightlifting is a bona fide cardio exercise. When I do circuit training, my heart beat increases, my chest heaves, can't catch my breath and sweat like it's raining outside. I used to have to run every day to keep in shape, I weight lift about three to four times a week for 30 to 45 minutes and I'm two dress sizes smaller and I eat more food. I'm sure this is because of the afterburn of weightlifting. I used to have to run just about everyday to stay in decent shape. The cardio left me looking like a small flabby person. The weights make me look Pah-DOW! You gotta do it. Trust me, weightlifting is cardio. Is it possible to burn 500 in 20 - 30 minutes, probably if you're a professional body builder. I think I can easily burn 250 in a 30 minute session. The fatigue I feel surely confirms it for me. The recovery is longer than if I'd done the running.

    You do realize that sweating isn't an indication of anything other than your body's attempt to cool itself right? not an indication of your workout
  • omma_to_3
    omma_to_3 Posts: 3,265 Member
    My personal trainer estimates 400 to 500 for an hour long session of a mix of cardio and weights. Based on the effort involved, I think that's about right (probably closer to 400 and sometimes, I record 300 to 350 depending on my perceived effort for the session). Straight lifting would depend on a lot of things but 500 for 20 minutes is way too high.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,196 Member
    So I was at the gym today and my personal trainer off handly said that you burn 500 calories in 20 minutes weight lifting. Is that even close to being true? :huh:
    Lol, I'd tell you the truth and say it's burns about 350-450 for an hour of good intensity.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness industry for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,196 Member
    I used to run 2-5 miles a day topping out at 10-20 miles per week. Because of a broken ankle I had to stop. I picked up weight lifting because it's pretty stationary. I have to tell you after a hard workout lifting not more than 25 pound on an upper body exercise (arm curls, rowing machine etc.) and doing not more than 40 -60 pounds on a lower body exercise (squats etc.) my body has never looked better. AND while I'm weightlifting, I sweat like I did when I was running and breathe just as heavily and often times not able to have a decent conversation. I by far think weightlifting is a bona fide cardio exercise. When I do circuit training, my heart beat increases, my chest heaves, can't catch my breath and sweat like it's raining outside. I used to have to run every day to keep in shape, I weight lift about three to four times a week for 30 to 45 minutes and I'm two dress sizes smaller and I eat more food. I'm sure this is because of the afterburn of weightlifting. I used to have to run just about everyday to stay in decent shape. The cardio left me looking like a small flabby person. The weights make me look Pah-DOW! You gotta do it. Trust me, weightlifting is cardio. Is it possible to burn 500 in 20 - 30 minutes, probably if you're a professional body builder. I think I can easily burn 250 in a 30 minute session. The fatigue I feel surely confirms it for me. The recovery is longer than if I'd done the running.
    Weight lifting ISN'T cardio. There's a reason why they are catagorized as aerobic and anaerobic. Pathways of metabolism are different.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness industry for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition
  • AllanMisner
    AllanMisner Posts: 4,152 Member
    Nope. But he was probably trying to convince you to lift heavy, which is a good idea for building lean muscle mass. If you were to add muscle mass (and keep it) you'll likely burn well over 500 additional calories over your lifetime. But you won't burn 500 calories during the session. Diet for fat loss, lift for strength gain and lean muscle mass.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,081 Member
    I usually go conservative and go 3 cal per minute when I'm on 60-90 sec breaks in between sets...
  • ChancyW
    ChancyW Posts: 439 Member
    I would say that is not true. I often up my burn by doing active rests, where I use my 1 minute recovery period to jump rope (or something of the sort) in between sets. I'm covered in sweat by the end. Even with doing that the burn would be nowhere near what your trainer believes.
  • Beautifulbridgittlee7
    Beautifulbridgittlee7 Posts: 352 Member
    I could see circuit training with weights or doing body weight exercise at a cardio pace burning a lot, maybe up to 500 in an hour. But for 30 minutes of circuit training with weights for someone at 145, maybe the most would be 300?
  • There are tons of online calculators for this:
    http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc
  • Well physics will tell you exacty how many calories are burnt lifting weights (well the absolute minimum at least). ossibly more precisely than cardio, which is quite complex, and HRM are very rough guesses (difficult to directly measure how much work your actually doing from your heart rate, it depends on - how fit you are, your weight, running up or down hill, stride, temperature etc...).

    But for weights James Joule (19th Cen English Physicist) gave us precise way of defining amount of energy used lifting weights -

    joule = (weight in kg x distance in meters lifted) / time in seconds squared

    i.e. 1 joule = lifting 1 kg one meter off the ground in 1 second

    1 joule = 0.239005736 calories

    therefore lifting 1kg, 1 meter in 1 second burns 0.239005736 calories

    So to burn 239 cal you'd need to lift 10 sets of 10 reps (i.e. 100 lifts) of 10kg one meter with each lift taking 1sec to complete. Note you don't need to do it all in one go - you can rest as long as you like between each rep (it makes no difference to the minimum energy used).

    This is the very minimum amount needed, obviously the body is nowhere near 100% efficient. Critically, you wont just be dropping the weights once you reach the top, so you will also be using some energy holding up the weight at the top and energy slowing the decent of the weights on the way down too.

    So I dont think it's entirely unreasonable to imagine a scenario where you did ~3 sets on 10 reps within 5-10 minutes x 3-4 sets in totall within 30-40 minutes and burn 500 calories.
  • clwydjpnrs
    clwydjpnrs Posts: 4
    edited November 2014
    Opps.. accounting for gravity its actuallt 10 joules or 2.3 cal. and the other thing to note is that its cal rather than Kcal!
  • clwydjpnrs
    clwydjpnrs Posts: 4
    edited November 2014
    So physics will show the bare minimum energy required, but total energy used by the body to actually lift the weights is going to be much higher.
  • mustgetmuscles1
    mustgetmuscles1 Posts: 3,348 Member
    edited November 2014
    I lost 50lbs and have been doing bulk and cut cycles for a couple years now using the estimate that MFP gives. It estimates a little over 200 cals per hour for weightlifting. I have found that using that estimate, and eating back my calories, weight gains and losses are near what they were expected to be. If it was off by 300 calories Im sure I would have noticed by now.

    This is heavy weightlifting though. If you are doing some sort of circuit training then you need to use that as your input.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,081 Member
    edited November 2014
    *double post
  • just to reiterate - cal in physics is not Kcal. i.e. the word cal we normally use everyday is actually Kcal. so the energy used, in terms of the physics, to move weights is very low. so maybe the 500 cal figure that's been quoted comes from that kind of confusion.

    Obviously the actual amount of fuel burnt will vary from person to person, but the figure quoted by mustgetmuscles1 who speaks from experience is likely to be the most accurate kind of estimate.
  • Cerdwin wrote: »
    So I was at the gym today and my personal trainer off handly said that you burn 500 calories in 20 minutes weight lifting. Is that even close to being true? :huh:

    Your trainer sounds like an idiot. There is no chance you can burn 500 calories weight lifting in 20 minutes.

    If I were you I would look for a new trainer