How Many Calories Does Weight Lifting Burn: The Science, Comparison with Cardio, and Tips for Maximizing Calorie Burn


Weight lifting has been a popular form of exercise for those looking to build muscle, but how does this activity compare when it comes to calorie burn? This article aims to explore how many calories weight lifting burns and provide tips for maximizing calorie expenditure during workouts.

Exploring the Science Behind Weight Lifting and Calorie Burn

Weight lifting has been shown to boost metabolism, leading to an increased calorie burn even after the workout is complete. The act of building and repairing muscles requires energy, and this increased muscle mass leads to a higher resting metabolic rate.

Research has shown that different types of exercise burn varying amounts of calories. For example, the American Council on Exercise found that a 145-pound person can burn an estimated 223 calories during 30 minutes of weight lifting, compared to 298 calories during 30 minutes of moderate cycling or 372 calories during 30 minutes of jogging at a 10-minute mile pace.

Furthermore, muscle mass plays a significant role in overall calorie burn. According to the Mayo Clinic, every pound of muscle burns approximately six calories per day at rest, compared to two calories burned by each pound of fat. In other words, building muscle through weight lifting can lead to an increased metabolism and burn calories even when resting.

Personal Experiences with Weight Lifting and Calorie Burn

Regular lifters have reported changes in their body composition and weight as a result of consistent weight lifting. One study found that women who lifted weights for six months lost an average of 3.5 pounds of fat and gained 1.5 pounds of muscle.

Personal anecdotes also highlight the calorie-burning potential of weight lifting. Some individuals have reported that weight lifting, even for shorter durations, leaves them sweating and out of breath, leading them to believe they have burned significant amounts of calories.

Comparing Weight Lifting to Cardio in Terms of Calorie Burn

When it comes to calorie burn, cardio exercises such as running, biking, or swimming are often seen as more effective. However, weight lifting still has the potential to burn significant amounts of calories, especially when performed at high intensity or over an extended period.

A study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics found that a 30-minute weight lifting workout burned an average of 223 calories, compared to 298 calories burned during moderate cycling and 372 calories burned during running at a 10-minute mile pace. However, it’s important to note that both cycling and running can be performed at a high intensity for longer periods than weight lifting, potentially yielding greater calorie burn over time.

Being Mindful of Calorie Intake While Weight Lifting

Diet plays a significant role in weight loss and muscle gain, and it’s essential to be mindful of caloric intake while weight lifting. Tracking calories through apps or food journals can provide insight into calorie intake and help individuals maintain a calorie deficit if weight loss is the goal.

Furthermore, eating protein-rich foods such as chicken, fish, tofu, or eggs can help build and repair muscle tissue, leading to increased metabolism and calorie burn.

How to Make the Most of Your Weight Lifting Workout for Calorie Burn
How to Make the Most of Your Weight Lifting Workout for Calorie Burn

How to Make the Most of Your Weight Lifting Workout for Calorie Burn

To maximize calorie burn during weight lifting workouts, there are simple yet effective strategies individuals can implement. Increasing weight or intensity, adding reps, or incorporating circuit training can lead to greater calorie burn during the workout and help build muscle mass over time.

Circuit training, in particular, involves performing a series of exercises in a circuit, with minimal rest in between. This form of training can be effective for burning calories and building muscle simultaneously.

Brief Overview of Muscle Groups and Calories Burned

Different muscle groups are targeted during weight lifting exercises, and this can impact calorie burn. Larger muscle groups such as the legs or back require more energy to work and can lead to greater calorie burn than smaller muscle groups like biceps or triceps.

Compound exercises, which involve multiple muscle groups, can also be effective for calorie burn. For example, a squat or deadlift targets the legs, back, and core, leading to increased calorie expenditure during the exercise and an elevated resting metabolic rate over time.


Weight lifting is a valuable form of exercise for building muscle and boosting metabolism. While cardio exercises are often seen as more effective for burning calories, weight lifting can still lead to significant calorie burn when performed consistently and at a high intensity. By being mindful of caloric intake, incorporating strategies to maximize calorie burn during workouts, and targeting larger muscle groups, individuals can see results in terms of body composition and weight.

Webben Editor

Hello! I'm Webben, your guide to intriguing insights about our diverse world. I strive to share knowledge, ignite curiosity, and promote understanding across various fields. Join me on this enlightening journey as we explore and grow together.

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