Does Strength Training Burn Calories?

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If you are trying to get a bit healthier, then you may be considering some good old exercise. This is especially the case if you want to shed some pounds. Of course, if you want to shed pounds, you have to burn calories. You need to burn more calories than you consume. If you can do this, then you will lose weight.

Now, one thing that many people wonder is what the best type of exercise is for calorie burning and fat loss. Of course, we all know that running on a treadmill for an hour is going to burn a lot of calories. That said, cardio exercise just isn’t all that fun. Most of us prefer some kind of strength training, such as lifting weights, CrossFit, or even powerlifting.

Sure, all of those forms of strength training are well known for building muscle, but what about those calories? Does strength training burn calories? If so, then how many calories can you expect to burn strength training?

Moreover, what is the calorie burn difference like between cardio exercise and strength training? These are all great questions that we are about to answer for you.

Does Strength Training Burn Calories?

To answer this question, let’s first look at the basics of calories and energy. So, your body needs some kind of fuel to function. The fuel that your body uses are calories. Calories are consumed when we eat. They are then converted into the energy that our bodies use to function.

When you engage in strength training, you are putting your body through a huge challenge. Each lift has you straining more than the last, and as you go on, you feel your energy depleting. The more you lift and the more you exercise, the more fuel your body burns.

This fuel that your body burns are those calories. Therefore, yes, strength training does burn calories. It really is common sense. Depending on the type and intensity of the strength training in question, you may actually burn a whole lot of calories.

How Many Calories Do You Burn When Strength Training?

Ok, so we have now established that strength training does indeed burn calories. What you probably want to know now is how many calories you can burn lifting weights.

Let’s give you some perspective here. An average 150-pound person is going to burn somewhere around 68 to 72 calories per hour while they are resting.

When you are strength training, you will of course burn more calories than when resting. After all, even small amounts of effort require your body to consume fuel. If we are talking about light to moderate strength training, expect to burn between 150 and 250 calories per hour.

However, if you are lifting heavy and you are really pushing the pace, you may burn up to 400 calories per hour, or more.

Burning 400 calories per hour is way more than burning 70 calories per hour (resting calorie burn). Therefore, as you can see, not only does strength training burn calories, but quite the sizeable amount too.

Factors That Affect Calorie Burn When Strength Training

What is important to know is that not all people are going to burn the same amount of calories when strength training. There are many factors that determine how many calories are burned during strength training. Let’s take a look.

1. The Muscles Being Used

One difference maker here is which muscles you are using when exercising. Generally speaking, the bigger the muscles and the muscle groups, the more calories you will burn.

For instance, squatting is going to burn far more calories than doing some bicep curls. In fact, if you are looking to burn calories, intense leg exercises are awesome. For calorie burn, compound exercises work really well too.

Does Strength Training Burn Calories

2. The Amount of Weight

A lot of people think that lifting moderate weight for many reps is the best way to burn calories. This may be true in terms of your own endurance.

If you can lift moderate weight for an hour, but can only manage heavy weight for five minutes, then the moderate weight will burn more calories.

However, strictly speaking, the heavier the weight you lift, the more calories will be burned. It’s simple math really. The heavier the weight, the more effort you must exert and the more calories are burned.

3. The Amount of Rest

Another thing that will affect overall calorie burn when strength training is how much you rest in between sets. If you take many rests between sets, your body gets time to recover. This means that you won’t burn quite as many calories once you do start training again.

The best way to burn the most calories when strength training is to take short breaks or no breaks at all. The less rest you get, the more calories your body needs to burn to keep going. This is not only true during the workout, but afterwards as well. Less rest now means more calories burned later.

4. The Type of Exercise

Something else that will make a difference is the type of exercise that you engage in. This is the case on two fronts. First of all, it does have to do with weight.

For instance, deadlifting a 500-pound bar is going to burn more calories than doing some pushups with your own bodyweight. The type of strength training you do makes a difference.

It also has to do with the intensity. If you get your heart pumping hard, such as CrossFit does, then you are going to burn more calories.

5. Your Current Fitness Level

The other thing to consider here is your own fitness level. The fitter you are, the less calories you will burn. The less in shape you are, and the more weight you have on your body, the more calories you will burn.

The heavier you are and the worse shape you are in, the more effort you have to exert to lift the same amount of weight. More effort exerted means more calories burned.

Strength Training vs Cardio: The Calorie Burn Difference  

Since we are talking about burning calories, you probably want to know how many you can burn through cardio exercise. Specifically, we want to look at the calorie burn differential between strength training and cardiovascular exercise.

As mentioned above, intense strength training can lead you to burn around 400 calories per hour. If we are talking about moderate low impact cardio, expect to burn between 450 and 500 calories per hour. However, things look a lot different if we are talking about high intensity workouts.

With an hour long high intensity cardio workout, depending on your current shape, you can burn anywhere from 600 to 1,000 calories. As you can see, while strength training does burn calories, cardio exercise does of course burn substantially more.

Does Strength Training Burn Calories – Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that strength training will burn calories. If you engage in a heavy workout, you may burn up to 400 per calories per hour. When all is said and done, that’s not too bad at all.

Plus, you get to build muscle size, strength, and endurance too. That said, if your number one goal is calorie burn and fat loss, then high intensity cardio is the way to go.

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