How many calories can you burn lifting weights?
Weightlifting is an effective way to change your body from obese to fit. And to increase your overall body strength. If you are overweight or obese, you might overlook weightlifting as a powerful tool for weight loss.
Don’t make that mistake.
Here is why:
Free weight compound movements like squats, bench press or pushups, deadlifts, cleans, barbell rows, and the overhead press will work the major muscle groups of your entire body. Even without knowing how many calories you burn weightlifting.
But, you might be looking to lose weight without doing any exercise at all. That is another big mistake that you might make because you are so used to sitting all day. News flash – one of the three everyday habits that contribute to your overweight or obesity is because you sit all day.
All you have to do is get up and start walking for 30 minutes a day, and you will immediately see results. Is that weightlifting, well yes, you are moving your body weight by way of your skeletal muscles. The purpose of your skeletal muscles is to move your body. But once you get used to taking your body for a walk, weightlifting in an excellent way to reshape your body and improve your body composition.
If you are already fit, and still want to know how to calculate the number of calories you burn, use the following three simple steps.
Note that this article is for informational purposes only and not for medical advice.
Calculate calories burned lifting weights in three simple steps:
Step 1. Find the MET of lifting weights – MET stands for Metabolic Equivalent of a Task
The first step to calculate how many calories you burn with any physical activity is to know the METs. The Metabolic Equivalent of a Task (METs) will tell you how many calories you burn per hour of exercise per one kilogram of body weight.
According to the Compendium of Physical Activities, the MET for strength training exercises such as:
- resistance training
- free weights
- Home gyms, such as:
- Bowflex Xtreme home gym Blaze – rated best home gym for beginners
- Fitness Reality 810XLT – Men’s Health editor’s choice for best value home gym
- and the Marcy Smith Cage Workout Machine Total Body Training – rated the best overall home gym by Simplemost
- bodybuilding, and
- powerlifting, which includes the squat, bench press, and deadlift
with vigorous effort is 6.0.
The METs of lifting weights are 6.0. Remember that number.
|1993 Compendium||2000 Compendium||2011 Compendium||Conditioning Exercise|
|02050||6.0||02050||6.0||02050||6.0||resistance training (weight lifting – free weights, nautilus or universal-type), powerlifting, which includes the squat, bench press and the deadlift, bodybuilding, vigorous effort (Taylor Code 210)|
Step 2. Calculate your weight in kilograms
The second step to calculate how many calories you burn lifting weights is to step on a body composition scale and determine your body weight in kilograms. All you need to do is divide your weight in pounds by 2.2.
If you weigh 195.7 pounds, the average weight of a man in the US, divide this number by 2.2, which is 88.95 kilograms. Once you know your body weight in kilograms, now you can move to the formula in the next step.
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Step 3. Use the METs formula to measure calories burned lifting weights
The METs formula is:
- Calories burned while lifting weights = METs x weight in kg x time in hours.
Time in hours is expressed as:
- 1 hour is 1
- 30 minutes is .5
- 15 minutes is .25
If you do not work out for an hour, then express this number as .5 for 30 minutes or .25 for a 15-minute workout.
A typical weightlifting workout will take 45 minutes to an hour. Every weightlifting workout needs a warmup.
If you do not have time to warm up, you don’t have time to train with weights. Warming up raises the temperature in your body, your joints, tendons, and ligaments, which helps to prevent injury.
One of the biggest obstacles to a successful weightlifting program is lost time because of injury. A good warmup will prepare you for your weightlifting workout and lessen the risk of injury.
For example, if you do a full 3×5 workout of squats, bench press, and deadlifts you can expect to spend at least one hour. Using the example of a 195.7 pound (88.95kg) man, you can plug in the following numbers to the formula:
- Calories burned = METs of 6.0 for lifting weights x 88.95kg x time (1 hour or .5 for 30 minutes or .25 for 15 minutes)
- 6.0 x 88.95 x 1 = 533.7 calories burned lifting weights (assuming an hour-long weightlifting workout).
- If you did a weightlifting workout of 30 minutes, then your formula would be 6.0 x 88.95 x .5 = 266.85 calories burned lifting weights.
Therefore, the average calories burned lifting weights for an hour by a 195.7-pound man is 533.7 calories or 8.895 calories per minute.
In summary, for a 195.7-pound man who lifts weights:
- 1 hour of lifting weights will burn 533 calories
- number of calories burned weight lifting 45 minutes = 399 calories
- calories burned lifting weights for 30 minutes = 266 calories
- and a short 15-minute weight lifting session burns 133 calories
What is the best way to burn fat – Cardio or Weights?
Step 4. A Sample 500 calorie-burning weightlifting workout
But why stop at 15 minutes? You can burn more than 500 calories with a one-hour weightlifting workout. Of course, this depends on your body weight (see the formula above). Besides the number of calories burned lifting weights, you also have to consider the muscle-building value of free weight lifting exercises.
Anyone who has done a full 3×5 powerlifting workout knows its exercise intensity. For example, imagine that you start with squats:
Sample Squat Workout
- Walk on a treadmill or elliptical trainer at 3.0 mph for 5 to 10 minutes at a low resistance. You do not want to fatigue your legs, only warm them up.
- Grab two 30 pound kettlebells, and walk 80 yards holding the kettlebells with a firm grip, as well as squeezing your lats tight
- Bracing your upper body will help warm you up for squats which requires that you tighten your core for safety
- Then hold one kettlebell against your shoulder, the other hand out horizontally, and lift your knees high standing in place
- These knee-high steps in place will warm up your legs for better depth on your squat
- Step side to side ten times in each direction
- Then use a hip circle, such as the slingshot hip circle to add some resistance to stepping side to side
- Do one more additional farmers walk with a 40 or 45 or 50-pound pair of kettlebells. If you only have one kettlebell, then use one.
- And then another set of knee-high steps with a 30lb kettlebell.
- Now use the hip circle again, and after every step to the side, squat while pushing your knees outwards against the hip circle resistance
- This hip circle action can help you achieve better depth in your squat
- Also, it will help you keep your knees tracking above your feet, instead of falling inwards
When you consider calories burned while lifting weights, you should also include your warmup, which in itself is a high-intensity exercise
Even during your training session, you need to build up to your work set gradually.
- Use a 45-pound Olympic barbell with no weights x 5 squats x 2 sets to warm-up. (45 x 5 x 2 )
- 65 x 4 x 1 (1 set of 4 reps with 65lbs)
- 85 x 3 x 1 (1 set of 3 reps with 85lbs)
- 105 x 2 x 1 (1 set of 2 reps with 105lbs)
- 125 x 1 x 1 ( 1 set of 1 rep with 125 lbs)
Now you are ready for your work sets. Since you are training to get stronger, you need to keep a journal to record the weight you lift every training session. The goal is to increase your weight to get stronger, even by a pound or 2.5 pounds every time you workout. Fractional plates are perfect for gradually increasing the load and triggering the overload principle, the heart of progressive resistance training.
If you shorten your rest period, you are working more on muscular endurance. Rest as much as you need, typically between 3 and 5 minutes to recover from your previous set.
- 145 x 5 x 3 (3 sets of 5 reps with 145lbs)
In the above squat workout pattern, you should rest 3 to 5 minutes between sets to regain your energy. It is a good idea to move to the bench press for a rest to let your lower body recover from the squats. And then you can go to the deadlift.
Sample Bench Press Workout
- Use a 45-pound Olympic barbell with no weights x 5 presses x 2 sets to warm-up. (45 x 5 x 2 )
- 95 x 4 x 1 (1 set of 4 reps with 95lbs)
- 105 x 3 x 1 (1 set of 3 reps with 105lbs)
- 125 x 2 x 1 (1 set of 2 reps with 125lbs)
- 145 x 1 x 1 ( 1 set of 1 rep with 145 lbs)
Rest as much as you need, typically between 3 and 5 minutes to recover from your previous set.
- 155 x 5 x 3 (3 sets of 5 reps with 135lbs)
Sample Deadlift Workout
- 145 pounds x 5 deadlifts to warm up
- 175 x 3 to warm up
- 195 x 5 x 1 set for your deadlift workout
Step 5. Number of calories burned lifting weights is not critical
You need to track the progression of your weightlifting in a journal to increase strength. But, do you need to track the number of calories burned lifting weights for weight loss? The answer is no; you do not need to know how many calories you eat or burn for body transformation.
That might sound like heresy in our calorie counting culture, but it is the truth. You do not need a calorie burned calculator or even a personal trainer for that matter to get fit.
Yes, counting calories is a good start when you have no clue why you are fat, even if you think you do not eat that much. And counting calories comes into play if you are working on adding weight as muscle mass. For example, if you are preparing for powerlifting, wrestling, or athletic competition, which uses a weight class. In those cases, get yourself a body composition scale and use it daily.
But the secret to body transformation is not just about calculating calories. The key is the consistency of your meals, the quality food that you eat, learning great form, and sticking to your strength training workouts.
Use a Fitness plan to achieve your ideal weight
If you want to lose weight and get fit, then you need a plan. Every significant goal starts with a plan.
Lifting weights is a tremendous asset when you want to get leaner and stronger and even rebuild your life.
Weightlifting may not burn as many calories per hour as running, but lifting weights, as well as all intense compound strength training, have a significant long-term effect on the number of calories burned.
Because deadlifts, squats, bench press, and other resistance exercises increase your lean muscle tissue.
When you build more lean muscle tissue, you increase your metabolism, which translates to more calories burned, even when you are not in the gym.
If you only have time for cardio or weight training, which should you choose? Find out in the video below:
Calories Burned Lifting Weights – Final Thoughts
You now know how to calculate calories burned lifting weights. As well as the calories consumed in any other physical activity that has a Metabolic Equivalent Task (METs).
The number of calories burned depends on your body weight the time spent strength training, and the intensity.
While you learned that the METs of lifting weights is 6.0, the METs of circuit training are 8.0.
All you have to do is reduce your rest time between sets to up the intensity.
Use this knowledge of the calories burned lifting weights to motivate yourself to plan and stick to your weightlifting workouts, week in and week out.
Consistent progressive resistance training is how you will see results in building your overall strength and fitness.
Use this straightforward 3×5 Workout Plan: The Only Strength Training Program You Will Ever Need. This weightlifting session will enable you to burn up to 500 calories in an hour.
If you do not have time for a full 3×5 workout, use this beginner deadlift routine as part of a 12-week beginner deadlift program, because if you only have time for one exercise, let it be the deadlift.
The deadlift works more muscle groups than almost any other exercise (think biceps curls which only works your biceps), has incredible benefits, and will dramatically change your body. Also, it requires less mobility than the squat, and you can substitute pushups at home instead of the bench press.
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