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Calories Burned Through Strength Training

author image Bonnie Singleton
Bonnie Singleton has been writing professionally since 1996. She has written for various newspapers and magazines including "The Washington Times" and "Woman's World." She also wrote for the BBC-TV news magazine "From Washington" and worked for Discovery Channel online for more than a decade. Singleton holds a master's degree in musicology from Florida State University and is a member of the American Independent Writers.
Calories Burned Through Strength Training
Strength training can help burn calories and boost your metabolism. Photo Credit dumbbell image by Evgeny Rodionov from Fotolia.com

If you want to lose weight and change your body’s appearance, it may be beneficial for you to lift weights. Not only does it burn calories and boost your metabolism, but it can potentially help make you stronger and increase your self-esteem. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen.


It takes 3,500 calories to equal one pound of fat, meaning you’ll need to burn an extra 3,500 calories per week for each pound you wish to lose. If you burn 500 calories more per day with exercise one day a week, you can reach that goal. For overall health, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends you get at least two hours and 30 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise, as well as to strength train with weights at least twice a week. (This is assuming a healthy adult, and varies based on individual.)

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Strength training uses resistance to muscular contraction to tone muscles and burn calories. You can use your own body via push-ups, squats or abdominal crunches, or use free weights such as dumbbells or resistance bands. You also can perform strength training on exercise machines. Circuit training is a combination of high-intensity aerobics and resistance training and involves eight to 10 exercises or machines in rapid succession with no rest between.

Caloric Burn

The exact number of calories burned during strength training workouts depends on intensity, time and your body composition. According to the Harvard Medical School, on average, caloric burn ranges from 90 calories per hour of moderate training by a 125-pound person to up to 266 calories per hour of vigorous effort by a 185-pound person. Circuit training burns even more. Christopher Scott, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at the University of Southern Maine, began using a modified method to estimate energy expenditure and found that weight training burns up to 71 percent more calories than originally thought. By his calculations, just one circuit of eight exercises taking about eight minutes can expend 159 to 231 calories, or about the same as running at a 6-minute-mile pace.


Strength training has an added benefit for weight loss in addition to just burning calories. It will raise your muscle metabolism during the exercise session and continue for a long time afterward, even days following high-intensity workouts. More muscle mass can also help create a leaner, more toned look, even if you weigh the same as you did when you were a lot flabbier. Adam Campbell, author of “The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises,” reports on research showing that between the ages of 30 and 50, you're likely to lose 10 percent of the total muscle on your body, which can double to 20 percent by the time you reach 60. Again, always consult your doctor before starting this or any exercise or strength-training regimen.

Expert Insight

A study by W. W. Campbell et al and published in the “American Society for Clinical Nutrition” in 1994 reported that subjects in the study aged 56 to 80 years old produced four pounds of fat loss after three months of strength training, even though the subjects were eating 15 percent more calories in a day. In other words, they gained three pounds of muscle and lost four pounds of fat, but they were able to do so while consuming more calories.

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