How Many Calories Does Weightlifting Burn?

How Many Calories Does Weightlifting Burn?

If it’s calories you want to torch, you should jump on that treadmill, right? Not so fast. According to the brainy exercise experts, those deadlifts and power cleans might be your best option. How many calories does weightlifting burn? You might be surprised to learn the answer.

Why Ladies Should Lift

Weightlifting—and all exercise, for that matter—should be about more than burning calories. Some women want to lose weight, some want to gain weight, and some are perfectly happy with the bodies they are in. No matter where you are in your health and fitness journey, weightlifting is for you.

Weight training is great for your muscles. But it’s also beneficial for so much more: your heart, lungs, and even your mental and emotional health. Plus, lifting promotes increased bone density, which is vital as women age to protect against osteoporosis

And despite what you might have heard in the past, weightlifting does not necessarily lead to a bulky frame (read more about that here). 

Build Your Biceps, Trim Your Tummy

Women who are trying to slim down may want to get off that spin bike and pick up a barbell instead. 

Cardio is an excellent way to strengthen your heart and lungs, but it doesn’t always promote weight loss. Weightlifting, on the other hand, causes muscle growth. Muscles burn more calories at rest than fat does. As you build more and more muscle, your metabolism revs up to keep those muscles in shape, therefore burning more calories—and more fat.

Weightlifting, when paired with a healthy diet, can get you to your health and fitness goals faster than cardio alone. 

How Many Calories Does Weightlifting Burn?

So, how many calories does weightlifting burn, anyway? 

Like all things health and fitness, the answer is different for every person. How many calories you burn lifting depends on your height, weight, age, body composition, workout intensity, and how many pounds you lift. 

In general, you put out about 3-6 metabolic equivalents (METs) during an average lifting session, meaning 3-6 calories per kilogram of body weight per hour. For a 150-pound person, that works out to about 200-400 calories per hour. But if you don’t want to do the math yourself (because, really, who has time for that?), you can plug in your numbers on this handy online MET calculator

We get it: 200-400 calories doesn’t sound like much, especially when compared to your caloric burn during Saturday’s 5K. But weightlifting plays the long game. Lifting weights is so intense that your body needs more oxygen to recover. Your body burns calories as it delivers oxygen to your recovering muscles, which leads to long-term burn. In short, lifting leads to continuous caloric burn, sometimes for as many as 24 hours after your workout. 

Increase That Burn

You can increase how many calories you burn—and how long you burn them—by ramping up your lifting routine:

  • Lift heavier, so you can only complete about 10 reps of each exercise before needing a rest. Only lift what you can while maintaining proper form.
  • Shorten your rest intervals. It’s not rocket science: the more time you spend lifting, the more calories you’ll burn. 
  • Do full-body movements that activate multiple muscle groups, like deadlifts, front squats, or many other fundamental lifts mentioned in this post. More muscles worked mean more calories burned. 
  • Add in some balance. Movements using free weights burn more calories than machines. And adding in a balance element like a Bosu ball or balance board, can increase that burn even more. 

Ready to torch those calories? Throw on your favorite shorties and work those guns, girl!

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