How Many Calories Do You Burn Lifting Weights?

Lifting weights is one of the best, if not the best calorie burning exercise around.  Unfortunately many people shy away from it since it can be pretty overwhelming.

If you are someone that is just starting out with lifting weights, trying to learn which exercises that will help you in your fitness goals can be difficult.

But if you are able to understand how to add strength training to your workouts, the benefits can be enormous.  

Once you are able to build experience and confidence, burning calories will be a breeze.

Benefits of Lifting Weights

There are many benefits when it comes to lifting weights.  You are able to build stronger bones, burn fat, and develop confidence as you try to sculpt your body the way you like.  But one of the most important benefits is the ability to burn a lot of calories.

Some would argue that you can burn more calories during a 30 min jog compared to a 30 min strength training workout.  On its surface this may be true, but what makes lifting weights so amazing is the ability to not only burn calories during a workout, but after the workout as well.

This phenomenon is called EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption).  Epoc is the body burning calories after an intense workout and that is where the true benefit of lifting weight comes in.

Someone who is 135 pounds completing a 30 minute jog can burn up to 300 calories during that time.  That same person may only burn 250 calories during 30 minutes of lifting weights.

But because of the after effect lifting weights can produce, the body continues to burn calories after the workout is over.  

So making sure you focus on the right muscles is key to burning the most amount of calories during a strength training workout.

Focus on Large Muscle Groups

If you want to maximize the amount of calories burned during a strength training workout, you want to make sure you focus on the larger muscles groups of the body.  The three muscles to focus on are:

  • Chest
  • Back
  • Legs

By focusing your workouts around these muscles, you will allow the body to use up the most amount of energy to help build up these muscles.  Understanding that the process of burning calories is the body using up as much energy it can to perform a certain movement.

So by focusing on larger muscle groups you will be exerting more energy to perform movements that involves these muscle groups.  Not only that, as you tear down the muscle fibers within the body, the body uses energy to help repair them, thus burning more calories.

Focus on Compound Movements

In order to focus on larger muscle groups, you have to perform exercises that focus on compound movements. Compound movements are exercises that stress more than one muscle group at a time.

For example, if you were to perform a bicep curl, you would be just targeting the bicep only.

But if you were doing a seated row, not only would you be working out the biceps, but also the back as well.

So you want to make sure you focus on compound movements that work more than one muscle.

Factors That Affect How Many Calories Are Burned

As with any workout you perform, the amount of calories you burn will depend on the certain factors.  You will burn more calories jogging up a hill as opposed to jogging on an even ground.  If you are a fast jogger, you will burn more calories than someone that is a slow jogger.


Intensity is key when determining how many calories you will burn during any given workout.  The more intense your workout is, the more calories you will burn.  Two factors that affect how many calories you burn during a workout are:

  • Weight
  • Resting Time

Weight – The more weight that is applied to any exercise you perform, the more energy that will be used. When it comes to building muscle, I like to use this general rule of thumb.

If you are able to perform 12 reps on any given weighted exercise, then increase the weight until you can perform only 8-10 reps.  Then continue to build back up to 12 reps.  Lifting weights requires a lot of energy which is great if you want to burn calories.

Resting Time – The amount of time you rest can also be a factor in how many calories you burn during any given workout.  The less rest in between exercises you have, the more the heart works to pump oxygen to your lungs.

That is why you hear many professionals stress the importance of getting the heart rate up and down when trying to burn fat.  So a recommended amount of time to rest between sets is about 60-90 seconds.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, you can burn a lot of calories lifting weights.  Keep in mind that there are many factors that can affect how many calories are actually burned.

Age and weight are other factors not mentioned in the article, but are factors to consider.  So don’t be afraid to lift some iron and burn off those unwanted calories.

So thanks for reading this article and please don’t be afraid to share your thoughts or ask any questions.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 12 comments
Sondra Meyer - December 8, 2016

As a runner, I have always struggled incorporating weight lifting exercises into my work out plan. I have never really cared for them all that much. However, the additional calories being burned sounds like a great bonus.

Your discussion of compound movements is very interesting. In addition to a seated rowing, what other types of machines or workout should I be looking for to maximize the number of muscles being worked at one time?

Thanks in advance,

    Ralph - December 9, 2016

    Hi Sondra! Yea when it comes to fitness, finding something you like to do is important. But any exercise that involves either a pulling or pushing motion, will work multiple muscles at a time.

sofia - December 8, 2016

Thanks for sharing. In the past I did shy away from lifting weights in fear of becoming to manly. I realize now from looking at my body that there’s more definition and tone when I life weights in addition to cardio instead of cardio alone.

That’s a good tip about increasing weight it can do more than 10 reps. I will definitely utilize that tip. Been under the weather for few weeks so haven’t gone to gym regularly. Will have to build up progress again.


    Ralph - December 9, 2016

    Thanks Sofia! Glad you enjoyed the read!

John - December 8, 2016

This is a very well written article. I definitely plan on incorporating a lot more weight lifting into my routine now. I had never heard of EPOC before today! It’s awesome to know that after a weight lifting workout my body will continue to burn calories. Can I use weight lifting to completely replace cardio though?


    Ralph - December 9, 2016

    Hey John! You can definitely use weight lifting instead of cardio. I was doing it for many years, but adding cardio can definitely bring you to another level. Every person is different, so finding out what works for you is key.

Karlo - December 8, 2016

Thanks for sharing this informative article about weight lifting. I agree with you that weight lifting is the best solution for burning calories fast, especially if we focus in larger muscle groups like chest, back and legs. Obviously one of the factors are with how much intensity we exercise. Great info

    Ralph - December 13, 2016

    Thanks Karlo!

joshua collins - December 8, 2016

Hi RD40, thanks for writing this post on how many calories you can burn just by lifting weights. Especially with christmas around the corner i found thsi post to be quite relatable to the current time as after christmas i will be looking at ways to lose calories after eating all that food over the festive period

    Ralph - December 13, 2016

    Hey Joshua! You and me both! Enjoy yourself and Happy Holidays to you!

Jim - December 8, 2016

is strength training using other methods of resistance just as good as using weight? I use a Bowflex machine, and have always liked it. I do have some other dumbbell weights also. I did just read a story about a woman who switched from running to lifting weights, and she had great weight loss success. I guess that proves your point. What do you think about the resistance training?

    Ralph - December 13, 2016

    Anything that puts stress on the muscles should work. Even bodyweight training is a form of resistance. Weights just allow you to control how much stress you put on your muscles.


Leave a Reply: