What's a good amount of calories to burn at the gym? If your goal is weight loss, a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, seven days per week, will allow you to lose one pound. You can easily achieve this level with a number of different gym workouts.
The number of calories burned in a one-hour gym workout varies based on the type and intensity of the exercise. Individuals who weigh more will burn more calories doing the same activity than those with lower body weight.
Calories Burned: Cardio Training
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all adults do at least 150 minutes of cardio exercise at a moderate-intensity every week. If your goal is weight loss, increase your activity to at least 300 minutes per week, or one hour per day, five days per week. The number of calories burned in a one-hour gym workout varies depending on the activity you choose and then the intensity of your exercise.
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Harvard Health Publishing estimates calorie burn for a variety of activities based on your body weight. The more you weigh, the more calories you will burn for a given activity. Some hourly calorie burn estimates for common gym cardio exercises at a moderate level of intensity include:
- Stationary bike: 420 to 622 calories
- Stair step machine: 360 to 532 calories
- Elliptical machine: 540 to 800 calories
- Rowing machine: 420 to 622 calories
Always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. Start at an easy pace and increase the intensity as your fitness level improves. Your workout should be challenging, but stop if you cannot maintain good form for all exercises as this can lead to injury.
Calories Burned: Strength Training
In addition to cardio, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends doing at least two strength-training sessions each week to target all the major muscle groups. The number of calories burned in a one-hour weight training ranges from 180 to 266 calories in a one-hour session. If you increase your workout intensity to a vigorous training level, your calorie burn jumps to between 360 and 532 calories per hour.
The great news is that calorie burn doesn't stop when you leave the gym. Although you may feel like you have returned to a normal state, your body is still recovering from the workout and burning more calories than normal, advises the American Council on Exercise. The greater the intensity of your workout, whether you are doing strength training or cardio, the greater the afterburn effect and the more calories you burn.
If your goal for going to the gym is weight loss, an hour a day will help you get there. Be sure to monitor your diet and make sure you are eating an appropriate number of calories for your weight. Eating fewer calories than you need to maintain your weight can help speed up your weight loss. Try using an estimated calorie requirements calculator to determine your daily caloric needs.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "I Want to Lose a Pound of Weight. How Many Calories Do I Need to Burn?"
- American Council on Exercise: "7 Things to Know About Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)"
- ExRx.net: "Estimated Calorie Requirements"