Calories Burned in a 30-Minute Strength Exercise Session

High angle view of a group of people exercising in a step aerobics class
Men and women in a strength training class at the gym. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Strength training, or resistance training, includes lifting free weights, using weight machines, working with resistance bands and performing body-weight exercises. Although this type of exercise doesn't burn many calories, it keeps your muscles and bones strong and can increase your metabolism, which means you burn more calories throughout the day. A total-body strength-training workout at least twice a week is vital for maintaining overall health.

Calories Burned

Most strength-training workouts burn only a modest amount of calories compared to aerobic activities. Half an hour of moderate weightlifting burns 112 calories if you weigh 155 pounds and 133 calories if you're 185 pounds, according to the Harvard Medical School. Vigorous weightlifting burns 223 calories for a 155-pound person and 266 calories for a 185-pound person. Half an hour of body-weight exercises like pushups and pullups burn 167 calories if you weigh 155 pounds and 200 calories if you weigh 185 pounds. Perform these at a more vigorous intensity and you can burn 298 calories at 155 pounds and 355 calories at 185 pounds.

Heavier Weights

Lifting weights just 5 to 10 percent heavier than the ones you currently use may help you burn 500 to 600 more calories per strength training session. Heavier weights with which you can perform only 6 to 8 repetitions are a better option than light weights with which you can perform 12 to 15 repetitions. Using heavier weights boosts your metabolism more post-workout than using light weights.

Compound Exercises

Compound exercises, which involve multiple joints, burn more calories than isolation exercises involving just one joint, such as biceps curls. Compound exercise options include pushups, pullups, barbell squats, lunges, bench presses, military presses and deadlifts. Ideally, aim to involve as many muscles as you can in each exercise. For example, you might perform a body-weight squat with a bicep curl.

Circuit Training

A circuit-training routine that combines strength training and cardiovascular exercise can increase your calorie-burning rate. This type of circuit training involves alternating between strength training and cardiovascular exercise with no rest between each exercise. You might do strengthening for one minute then cardio for one minute. Or complete a circuit of five or six strength-training exercises, do high-intensity cardio for one to five minutes, then repeat the strength-training circuit. Always start your workout with a cardiovascular warm-up of at least five minutes.

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