How Many Calories Does Weight Lifting Burn?

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Have you ever wondered how many calories do you burn lifting weights? Weightlifting is an effective way to challenge your muscles and improve your overall fitness.

However, when it comes to calorie consumption, the equation becomes slightly more complex.

While calories burned lifting weights can vary based on several factors, there are ways to optimize your exercise for maximum results. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of calorie burn in relation to weightlifting, helping you understand how to get the most out of your lifting sessions.

Key Takeaways

  • Weight training can lead to both immediate and long-term calorie-burning benefits.
  • Calorie consumption during weightlifting is influenced by factors such as exercise type, individual metabolic rate, workout intensity, and duration.
  • Lifting weights contributes to an increased basal metabolic rate (BMR), supporting additional calorie burn when the body is at rest.
  • Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is higher in lifting compared to cardio and plays a role in calories used post-workout.
  • Utilizing weightlifting calorie calculators can help provide accurate estimates of calories used during weightlifting sessions.
  • Increasing workout intensity and duration, as well as incorporating compound lifts, can help maximize calorie expenditure in weight training.
  • A combination of cardio and strength training is recommended for overall health, fitness, and weight loss goals.

Understanding Calorie Expenditure and Muscle Metabolism in Lifting Weights

Weightlifting is a popular form of anaerobic exercise that utilizes fuel sources within muscle tissues, contributing to muscle gain. The increase in muscle mass, in turn, can boost one’s metabolism, resulting in more calories being burned at rest. This is a significant advantage over cardiovascular exercises, which primarily rely on inhaled oxygen to burn calories more quickly but may not have as lasting an effect on muscle gain and metabolism.

When you engage in weightlifting, your body experiences a process known as muscle metabolism, which plays a crucial role in calorie consumption. Here, we explain the key components of muscle metabolism and how weight training helps in achieving better-body composition and calorie consumption at rest.

  1. Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP): ATP is an essential energy source required for muscle contraction, and its availability in muscles determines the intensity and duration of weight training exercises.
  2. Phosphocreatine (PCr): PCr is another high-energy phosphate compound stored in muscles, which quickly replenishes ATP during short, intense bouts of lifting weights.
  3. Glycogen: Stored in the muscles and liver, glycogen is a form of glucose that serves as an energy source during prolonged weight training sessions.
  4. Lactic Acid: As a byproduct of glucose metabolism, lactic acid accumulates in muscles during high-intensity anaerobic exercise, causing the familiar ‘burning’ sensation.
weightlifting burns calories

These fuel sources provide the necessary energy for lifting exercises and contribute to muscle growth. As a result, increased muscle mass can elevate metabolism, enabling the body to burn more calories while at rest. This is one of the key reasons why incorporating weight training into your fitness routine is highly beneficial for overall calorie consumption and body composition.

"Lifting weights is the most effective way to build muscle and increase metabolism, leading to more calories used at rest. In fact, for every pound of muscle you gain, you can expect to burn an additional 50 calories per day without any extra effort."

Exercise TypeCalorie Expenditure During ExerciseCalorie Expenditure at RestImpact on Muscle GainImpact on Metabolism
Weight LiftingVaries based on intensityIncreased due to muscle gainHighHigh
Cardiovascular ExercisesHigher than lifting weightsMinimalLowLow

It’s essential to understand the unique aspects of calorie expenditure and muscle metabolism in lifting weights to optimize your workout routineWeight training helps in increasing metabolism, boosting muscle gain, and ultimately leading to a higher calorie expenditure at rest, making it a vital component of any effective fitness program.

The Science Behind Lifting Weights vs. Cardio for Calorie Expenditure

When comparing the calorie-burning effects of lifting weights vs. cardio for calorie consumption , it’s essential to understand the science behind these two types of workouts. Although a cardio workout may help you burn more calories during the exercise session itself, lifting can lead to lasting calorie-burning effects even after the physical activity has ended.

Studies have shown that weightlifting can lead to a higher Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) than cardio exercises. This means that the body continues to burn calories even after a lifting workout as it recovers and returns to its pre-exercise state.

A 2018 study found that resistance training increased participants' basal metabolic rate (BMR) for up to 48 hours post-exercise, suggesting that weightlifting can have lasting calorie-burning effects after the physical activity has ended.

weight lifting and calorie burn

When deciding on the most effective workout routine for calorie expenditure, consider the following factors:

  1. EPOC – As previously mentioned, weightlifting typically induces a greater EPOC compared to cardio exercises, resulting in a more sustained calorie expenditure and increased fat loss even after the workout.
  2. Muscle Gain – Weightlifting helps build and maintain muscle mass, which in turn increases your metabolism and leads to a higher calorie expenditureat rest.
  3. Workout Intensity – High-intensity weightlifting sessions can result in a more substantial calorie expenditurecompared to moderate- or low-intensity cardio workouts.
Exercise TypeCalories Used During ExerciseEPOC EffectImpact on Metabolism and Muscle Mass
Lifting weightsLower than cardio during the sessionHigherIncreases muscle mass and metabolism, leading to increased calorie expenditureat rest
CardioHigher than weightlifting during the sessionLowerMay not provide significant long-term effects on muscle gain and metabolism

As evidenced by the research and data above, both weightlifting and cardio exercises offer specific calorie-burning benefits. However, weightlifting can have a more pronounced impact on long-term metabolism and calorie expendituredue to the increased EPOC effect and higher muscle gains. Ultimately, incorporating a combination of lifting weights and cardio exercises in your workout routine will provide the best results for overall health, fitness, and weight loss goals.

Importance of EPOC: How Lifting Weights Continues to Burn Calories Post-Workout

Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) plays a significant role in the calorie-burning effects of lifting weights. The increase in oxygen intake following a strenuous workout has a direct impact on the number of calories used post-workout.

EPOC Explained

EPOC is the increased rate of oxygen intake following an intense workout, primarily driven by the need to restore the body and replenish energy. This post-exercise period is marked by elevated oxygen uptake, leading to increased calorie consumption as the body recovers and returns to a pre-exercise state.

Weightlifting, in particular, has been shown to induce higher EPOC levels compared to cardio activities, suggesting that lifting burns more calories in the post-workout recovery phase.

Contrasting EPOC in Weight Lifting with Cardio Activities

While both lifting weights and cardio exercises contribute to EPOC, the intensity of the anaerobic exercise involved in lifting leads to a greater EPOC effect. Weightlifting creates more significant muscle breakdown, which in turn requires more energy for repair and recovery, resulting in continued calorie expenditure after the workout session. In contrast, cardio activities tend to have lower EPOC effects.

"Weightlifting results in more significant muscle breakdown which leads to higher levels of EPOC than cardio activities."

Let’s examine the differences more closely:

Activity TypeEPOC Effect
Weight training Higher EPOC due to increased muscle breakdown and need for repair and recovery
CardioLower EPOC due to less muscle breakdown and a quicker recovery process


In conclusion, weight training boasts a more robust EPOC effect compared to cardio activities, leading to continuous calorie expenditure long after the workout session is over. By incorporating weight training into your fitness routine, you can take advantage of EPOC’s calorie-burning effects to optimize your results and overall health.

higher EPOC through weightlifting

How Body Weight Influences Calories Burned During Weight Lifting

A person’s body weight plays a significant role in the amount of calories used during weight training . Heavier individuals are likely to burn more calories compared to lighter individuals, performing the same exercises for an equivalent duration and intensity. This is due to the fact that a greater amount of energy is required to move a heavier body, which in turn contributes to a higher caloric burn.

As a result, it’s essential to take your body weight into account when determining how many calories are burned during weight training sessions. To help with this, there are online calculators available that can factor in body weight, providing customized estimates for calories used during weightlifting sessions. These tools enable individuals to better understand the correlation between their weight and the caloric count burned while lifting weights.

Heavier individuals burn more calories during weight training sessions compared to lighter individuals due to the increased energy required to move their bodies. One often sees sample statements like "A person weighing 185lbs performing 30 minutes of HIIT is likely to burn around 352 calories." But just how much your bodyweight influences your calorie burn can be seen here:

Below is an example of how one’s body weight can influence the number of calories consumed during a 30-minute weight training session:

Body Weight (lbs)Calories Burned (Moderate Intensity)Calories Burned (Vigorous Intensity)


From the table, it’s clear that as body weight increases, so too does the caloric count burned during a weight lifting session. By taking your body weight into account, you can get a more accurate representation of how effective your weight training workouts are at burning calories and aiding in overall weight management.

Utilizing Weight Lifting Calorie Calculators for Accurate Estimates

Estimating the calories consumed during weightlifting can be challenging, given the multiple factors affecting the outcomes. Consequently, utilizing a weight training calorie calculator helps in producing a more accurate and customized estimation. A variety of calorie calculators are available, allowing you to quickly and easily retrieve crucial information for tracking your progress and making adjustments to your workout routines.

Some calorie calculators designed specifically for estimating calories consumed during weightlifting include the Calorie Expenditure Rate CalculatorOmni Calculator, and Cornell University’s METS to Calories Calculator. These tools take into account multiple factors, such as the type of activity, your body weight, effort level (measured in METs – Metabolic Equivalents), and exercise duration, to estimate total caloric burn.

Proper use of the weight training calorie calculator will enable you to more accurately track your calories consumed and optimize your workout routine accordingly.

The following table showcases popular weight training calorie calculators and their features:

By calculating the calories consumed during each weight training session, you can more effectively measure your progress and adjust your exercise and nutrition plans accordingly. These calculators enable you to optimize your workouts and make informed decisions about your fitness goals. So, for a comprehensive understanding of your fitness journey, start employing a calorie calculator to monitor the calories used per weight training session.

Calorie Expenditure Rate Calculator
  • Estimates calories used based on effort (in METs)
  • Considers your body weight and duration of activity
Omni Calculator
  • Calculates calories used per session
  • Takes into account the specific exercises performed
  • Factors in your age, weight, and workout duration
Cornell University’s METS to Calories Calculator
  • Converts METs to calories
  • Supports various activities, including weight training
  • Inputs body weight and exercise duration
Utilizing Weight Lifting Calorie Calculators

The Role of Workout Intensity and Duration in Maximizing Caloric Burn

Both workout intensity and duration play a critical role in determining the caloric content burned during a weightlifting session. Generally, higher intensity and longer duration weightlifting sessions result in more calories being burned, both during and after a workout. A steady increase in intensity with incremental additions to workout durations is recommended for achieving progressive caloric burn.

Higher intensity and longer duration weightlifting sessions typically result in more calories used both during and after a workout.

To maximize your caloric burn, it’s imperative to progressively challenge yourself in your weightlifting sessions. This can be achieved through various methods, such as:

  • Incorporating different exercises into your routine to engage various muscle groups
  • Increasing the weight used for each exercise with time for a more intense workout
  • Adjusting the number of sets and repetitions performed
  • Decreasing rest intervals between sets
  • Implementing advanced training techniques, such as supersets, drop sets, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT)

It’s important, however, to strike a balance between workout intensity and duration, tailoring it to your individual fitness goals and physical capabilities. Overtraining can lead to injury, so make sure to listen to your body and allow for adequate recovery time between sessions.

Workout IntensityWorkout DurationPotential Caloric Burn
LowShort (20-30 minutes)Low
LowLong (60+ minutes)Moderate
HighShort (20-30 minutes)Moderate
HighLong (60+ minutes)High


In conclusion, when seeking to maximize caloric burn during weightlifting, it’s crucial to consider both the intensity and duration of your workout sessions. By progressively increasing the challenge, you can enhance the effectiveness of each session, ultimately burning more calories per session and achieving your fitness goals more efficiently.

Maximizing Calorie Consumption Through Compound Lifts and Targeted Training

To boost the caloric count burned during resistance training, athletes should focus on compound lifts and targeted training. These approaches engage multiple muscle groups at once, resulting in increased caloric expenditure and maximized effectiveness of each workout routine.

Incorporating Compound Lifts for Enhanced Caloric Burn

Compound lifts are exercises that work several muscle groups simultaneously, increasing the caloric count burned during a session. By targeting large muscle areas, these lifts contribute significantly to overall caloric burn. Some examples of effective compound lifts include:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bench presses
  • Standing overhead presses

These exercises can be thought of as the cornerstones of any targeted training program designed to maximize calorie expenditure and overall workout efficiency.

Compound ExercisePrimary Muscle Groups TargetedAverage Calories Burned per 30 Minutes*
SquatsQuadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves200-300
DeadliftsHamstrings, glutes, erector spinae, lats, traps200-350
Bench PressesPectorals, triceps, anterior deltoids150-250
Standing Overhead PressesAnterior deltoids, triceps, upper pectorals180-280

*Note: Calorie expenditure estimates are approximate and will vary depending on factors such as body weight and workout intensity.

In addition to incorporating compound lifts into their workout routine, athletes should also consider tracking their progress, gradually increasing weight and intensity to continuously challenge their muscles and maximize calorie expenditure. By focusing on compound lifts and targeted training, individuals can make the most of their resistance training sessions, ultimately leading to improved overall fitness and performance.

squats - a compound exercise

Taking Advantage of Weight Training's Basal Metabolic Rate Boost

Weight training can significantly enhance an individual’s basal metabolic rate (BMR), allowing you to burn more calories even when your body is at rest. As a result, you can make the most out of your lifting sessions, ultimately contributing to an increase in daily caloric burn. Studies have consistently noted that participants engaging in resistance training elevate their BMR for extended periods post-workout, making weight training an essential component for those aiming to improve their metabolism and overall health.

For instance, suppose you commit to a consistent weight training schedule, such as lifting weights for 30 minutes several times a week. In that case, you can expect significant basal metabolic rate boosts and increased BMR over time. This means the amount of energy your body needs to maintain itself at rest will be higher, leading to a greater caloric content burned throughout the day.

"Weightlifting can enhance an individual's basal metabolic rate (BMR), increasing the caloric content burned when the body is at rest."

An essential aspect of weight training that aids in the elevation of BMR is the type of exercises chosen. Focusing on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups simultaneously not only helps build overall strength and muscle mass but also contributes to the increased BMR more effectively.

  1. Squats
  2. Deadlifts
  3. Bench Presses
  4. Standing Overhead Presses
  5. Barbell Rows

By incorporating this variety of exercises into your weight training routine, you can optimize your gains in muscle mass, strength, and metabolism. With a higher basal metabolic rate boost, you are on your way to achieving better physical health, greater calorie expenditure, and more effective weight management in the long run.

Factors That Affect Caloric Burn During Weight Training Sessions

Individual Variations in Metabolism and Workout Specifics

Various factors influence calorie expenditure during weightlifting. These include individual variations in metabolism, the specifics of the workout (types of exercises, load, volume), as well as the lifter’s gender and weight. Being aware of these factors is crucial in understanding and optimizing calorie expenditure during weightlifting sessions. The number of how many calories you burn when you lift weights varies greatly from athlete to athlete.

  1. Metabolism: Every individual has a unique metabolic rate, which can impact the number of calories used during weight training. Factors such as age, muscle mass, and genetics can all affect metabolism.
  2. Workout specifics: The types of exercises performed, load (amount of weight lifted), and volume (number of sets and repetitions) all contribute to the total caloric expenditure during a workout.
  3. Gender: Males typically have more muscle mass and tend to burn more calories during weight training than females.
  4. Body weight: Heavier individuals generally burn more calories during a lifting session compared to lighter individuals, given the same workout intensity and duration.

Beyond these factors, the total workload, which is the sum of all the weights lifted during a session, can also affect caloric expenditure. To help give a better understanding of how many calories you burn when you lift weights during various exercises, refer to the table below.

ExerciseAverage Caloric Burn per Hour for a 155-pound IndividualAverage Caloric Burn per Hour for a 185-pound Individual
Squats420 calories504 calories
Deadlifts448 calories536 calories
Bench Press336 calories403 calories
Barbell Row378 calories453 calories

It is important to consider all these factors when evaluating the effectiveness of a weight training session and devising a personalized workout routine to optimize calorie expenditure and achieve desired fitness goals.

use weightlifting to burn more calories


In summary, weightlifting serves as an effective means for burning calories, offering benefits that extend beyond the workout session. While cardiovascular workouts provide a higher calorie expenditure per session, the long-term effects of weightlifting, such as increased EPOC and basal metabolic rate, result in prolonged calorie-burning benefits. A well-rounded fitness regimen should include both cardio and strength training for optimal health, fitness, and weight loss results.

When planning your exercise routine, consider factors such as workout intensity, type, duration, and your individual metabolism to optimize the calorie expenditure and effectiveness of your weight training sessions. By incorporating these elements, you stand to boost your overall fitness outcomes and create a successful weight loss journey.

Ultimately, the combination of cardiovascular workouts and strength training ensures you reap the most benefits in terms of both immediate and long-term calorie expenditure. Focusing on both aspects of exercise will not only set the stage for a healthier lifestyle but also provide the results you desire in achieving your fitness goals.


How many calories do you burn lifting weights?

Estimates on calorie consumption from weightlifting vary based on intensity and individual body weight. Moderate weight training for 30 minutes can burn between 90 and 126 calories, while vigorous weight training for the same duration may burn between 180 to 252 calories, contingent on one’s body weight.


How does muscle metabolism affect calorie consumption in weight training ?

Weightlifting, an anaerobic exercise, utilizes fuel sources within muscle tissues and contributes to muscle gain. Increased muscle mass can raise one’s metabolism, resulting in more calories being burned at rest.


What’s the difference between weight training and cardio for calorie consumption?

Cardiovascular exercises burn calories more quickly, but weightlifting increases sustained calorie consumption due to EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) and increased basal metabolic rate. A combination of cardio and strength training is often recommended for optimal health, fitness, and weight loss goals.


How does weight training continue to burn calories post-workout?

Weightlifting typically induces a greater EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) compared to cardio, which means more calories are burned as the body recovers and returns to a pre-exercise state. This post-exercise period is marked by elevated oxygen uptake to restore the body and replenish energy, resulting in continued calorie burn after weight training .


How does body weight influence calories used during weight training ?

Heavier individuals are likely to burn more calories compared to lighter individuals, doing the same exercises for an equivalent duration and intensity. Online calculators can factor in body weight, providing customized estimates for the calories used during weightlifting sessions.


Which weight training calorie calculators provide accurate estimates?

Tools such as the Calorie Burn Rate Calculator, Omni Calculator, and Cornell University’s METS to Calories Calculator can provide precise estimates of calories used during weightlifting. These calculators account for activity type, body weight, effort level, and exercise duration to estimate total caloric burn.


What role do workout intensity and duration play in maximizing caloric burn?

Higher intensity and longer duration weightlifting sessions typically result in more calories consumed both during and after a workout. A steady increase in intensity with incremental additions to workout durations is recommended for progressive caloric burn.


How can compound lifts and targeted training maximize calorie consumption during weight training ?

Compound lifts that target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses, can significantly enhance caloric expenditure. Targeting large muscle groups through compound lifts is an efficient way to maximize calorie burn.


How does weight training boost basal metabolic rate?

Weightlifting can enhance an individual’s basal metabolic rate (BMR), increasing the number of calories consumed when the body is at rest. Studies have noted that participants engaging in resistance training elevated their BMR for extended periods post-workout, contributing to an overall increase in daily caloric burn.


What factors affect caloric burn during weight training sessions?

Factors influencing calorie burn during weightlifting include individual variations in metabolism, the specifics of the workout (such as types of exercises, load, volume), as well as the lifter’s gender and weight. It is important to consider all these factors to optimize calorie consumption during weightlifting.