How Many Calories Does Weightlifting Burn: Unveiling the Surprising Truth

Weightlifting is a common exercise for building muscle but also burning calories. While many people know the benefits of weightlifting for muscle development and strength, you might be wondering about the caloric burn associated with this activity.

Different factors will affect the amount of calories you burn during a weightlifting session, such as your weight, muscle mass, and workout intensity. Understanding these factors can help you maximize the calorie-burning potential of your weightlifting routine.

Remember that weightlifting contributes to an increase in muscle mass which, in turn, naturally boosts your metabolic rate. This means you’ll burn more calories even when you’re not exercising. So, as you incorporate more weightlifting into your fitness routine, you’ll begin to notice an overall enhancement in your body’s ability to burn calories efficiently.

Calories Burned in Weightlifting

Weightlifting is your go-to to build muscle and strength, but have you ever wondered how many calories it burns? In this section, we’ll discuss the factors affecting calorie burn during weightlifting and how to measure the calories burned.

Factors Affecting Calorie Burn

Several factors influence your calorie burn during weightlifting, including weight, exercise intensity, and duration. Heavier individuals tend to burn more calories during exercise as their bodies require more energy to move.

The intensity of your weightlifting workout also affects the calorie burn. Heavier weights and higher reps increase the energy used during the exercise. Your age and muscle mass also affect calorie burn since people with lean muscle mass usually burn more calories at rest and during workouts.

Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET)

The Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) is a unit used to estimate the energy expenditure of an activity, which can help you understand your calorie burn during weightlifting.

Weightlifting has a MET value of 3, meaning it burns about three times more calories per minute than resting. However, this value may vary based on your workout routine and intensity.

  • Resting: 1 MET
  • Weightlifting: 3 METs

Measuring Calories Burned

To estimate the calories burned during weightlifting, you can use a calorie burn calculator that considers your weight, exercise intensity, and duration. These calculators often use MET values as well as other personalized factors.

Another way to measure calorie burn is by using a mobile fitness tracker to track your calorie expenditure during exercise. These devices provide a more accurate estimation of your calorie burn based on your heart rate and other data.

Remember that weightlifting is a form of strength training that predominantly targets muscle gain, so the focus should not solely be on calorie burn. Increasing muscle mass contributes to a higher resting metabolic rate, which helps with calorie burn even when you’re not exercising.

Ultimately, consistent weightlifting coupled with proper nutrition will aid in achieving your fitness goals.

Comparison with Other Exercises

In this section, we’ll compare weightlifting with other common exercises to help you better understand its calorie-burning potential.

Weightlifting vs. Cardio

Weightlifting generally burns fewer calories than cardio activities like running or walking. However, it’s essential to consider factors such as muscle mass and metabolism when comparing. Lifting weights can increase lean muscle mass, which boosts your metabolism even when you’re at rest.


Weightlifting vs. Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercises

Aerobic activities like swimming, cycling, or dancing burn more calories per minute than weightlifting, but anaerobic exercises like sprints and HIIT offer a similar calorie burn.

The key difference: weightlifting builds muscle, improving your body composition and energy expenditure long-term.

Compound vs. Isolation Exercises

Compound exercises such as squats or deadlifts target multiple muscle groups, generally burning more calories than isolation exercises like bicep curls. They also offer greater overall muscle growth and improved metabolism.

To further visualize these comparisons, consider the following examples:

  • Weightlifting (moderate intensity): 180-220 calories per hour
  • Running (moderate pace): 550-680 calories per hour
  • Walking (moderate pace): 240-400 calories per hour
  • Aerobic exercises (moderate intensity): 380-480 calories per hour
  • Anaerobic exercises (HIIT): 450-650 calories per hour

Remember to prioritize proper diet, sleep, and nutrition to maximize your weightlifting and calorie-burning benefits.

Maximizing Calorie Burn in Weightlifting

When it comes to weightlifting, it’s not only about how much you lift but also how you perform your workouts to maximize calorie burn. Let’s explore some effective methods to enhance calorie burn during weightlifting sessions.

Circuit Training

Circuit training is an excellent way to combine aerobic and anaerobic exercises for increased calorie expenditure. Moving quickly between different exercises, you maintain an elevated heart rate while targeting multiple muscle groups.

Exercises like jogging or cardiovascular movements in your circuit can intensify your workout. Isolation exercises such as bicep curls can also be integrated for additional benefits. According to Harvard Medical School, circuit training can burn up to 440 calories in thirty minutes for a person weighing 155 pounds.

High-Intensity Interval Training

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is another effective method to burn more calories during weightlifting sessions. It alternates short intervals of intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods.

This type of training intensifies your workout and increases your basal metabolic rate, leading to more calories burnt even at rest. It is essential, however, to adopt a well-structured program designed by an expert to avoid overexertion and injury.

Remember, the key to maximizing calorie burn during weightlifting is incorporating methods such as circuit training and HIIT. Doing so can effectively improve your workouts and achieve more significant results.

Nutritional Intake

As a weightlifter, your nutritional choices significantly impact your performance, recovery, and muscle gain. The number of calories burned during weightlifting sessions depends on exercise intensity and duration.

Below, we’ll explore the vital nutritional aspects to help maximize your weightlifting results.

Protein Intake

Protein is crucial for muscle repair and growth. Since compound exercises like squats and deadlifts target multiple muscle groups, they require an adequate protein intake. Aim to consume about 1.6-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily.

To retain adequate protein intake, you should;

  • Choose high-quality protein sources such as chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
  • Plant-based protein options like beans, lentils, and tofu are also effective.
  • Consider supplementing with protein powder if you struggle to meet your protein needs through food.

Caloric Deficit and Weight Loss

Weightlifting can contribute to weight loss by burning calories during and after your workout. Achieving weight loss involves creating a caloric deficit, which occurs when you consume fewer calories than your body needs to maintain weight.


Compound exercises and vigorous workouts can increase calorie expenditure, boosting your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This means you’ll burn calories even after your workout, commonly known as the “afterburn” effect.

To calculate your daily calorie needs, consider an online BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculator, which factors in your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level. Subtract 500-1000 calories from your BMR to give you a target calorie intake for weight loss.


Ultimately, the calories burned during weightlifting depend on factors such as weight, workout intensity, and duration. By paying attention to these elements, you can optimize your calorie burn and reach your fitness goals more effectively.

Don’t forget to incorporate other activities, like cardio, into your workout routine for well-rounded fitness. Mixing up the type of exercises you perform can also help prevent plateaus and keep you engaged in your workouts.

Incorporate proper nutrition and a weightlifting regimen to fuel your body and promote muscle growth. Tracking your progress and setting realistic goals can further motivate your fitness journey. Always listen to the body and prioritize rest and recovery for a healthy and sustainable fitness lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many calories does weightlifting burn?

You can expect to burn around 180-266 calories per hour when performing weightlifting exercises, depending on your weight, intensity, and the specific exercises you’re doing.

Does lifting heavier weights burn more calories?

While lifting heavier weights can increase the amount of muscle you build, the difference in calories burned between lighter and heavier weights is not significant. Your total calorie expenditure will mostly depend on workout intensity and duration.

How can I maximize the calorie burn during weightlifting sessions?

Try incorporating short rest periods, supersets, and circuit-style training into your weightlifting routine to boost calorie burning. High-intensity workouts tend to burn more calories than slower, controlled lifting sessions.

Does weightlifting continue to burn calories after the workout?

Yes, weightlifting can increase your calorie burn after the workout due to a process known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This means your body will continue to burn calories even at rest.

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