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MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,461
6/1/12 10:46 P

Strength training doesn't burn all that many calories directly in the way that cardio does.

Instead the main benefits of strength training are indirect, in that it boosts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day, not just when you are working out. Also, without strength training, up to 25% of your weight loss can come from muscle rather than fat - including ST in your program helps ensure that more of your weight loss comes from fat alone.

While these effects are real, they are hard to caclulate or attribute to a specific strength workout, which is why Spark doesn't calculate calories burned from strength training.


JUDSTERF Posts: 3,978
6/1/12 7:47 P

Hello. I'm new to the Strength Training Board. I just started my strength training for the upperbody. Due to physical problems I am limited on what I can do. I did 2 sets of upper body exercises with/without band plus my stretching afterwards. How do I figure out the calories with what I've done emoticon

JANLAR2 Posts: 448
5/7/12 8:20 P

I do 30 minutes of step aerobics (high impact) and after that I spend 25 minutes doing step pump, lots of squats, some lifting to tone arms and sides and an abdominal workout. It may not seem like a lot but it knocks the crap out of me. I eat a piece of 15 grain toast with pb before I exercise. I am still trying to get back into this routine, I had surgery AND quit smoking last year and it took a long time for me to start doing my former routine. Today I did the step and was so light headed I sat down for 15 minutes with some juice, so I didn't go immediately into the pump workout. I forced myself to finish off all the strength training, but today I have been eating a lot, I am always starving for the entire day after I'm done. I do 2 nights of Zumba 1 hour sessions and know I am burning a lot of calories, but I don't find that I am eating everything in sight. Maybe it is bc I am doing this from 6-7 pm. I've lost 2 lbs this past week but I'm afraid it's going right back on after today. On the other 2 days I do a hip hop 40minute video that includes some salsa moves and middle east ones. Am I not eating enough protein before I do the cardio/strength workout, 3 x a week?

Let me also add that I am sweating profusely to the point of having to wear a headband in order to absorb it so it doesn't go into my eyes. When I am finished my head is soaked and my body is sweaty also. I drank 5 bottles of water yesterday, I am on my 4th now, so I am sure I will most likely drink another one tonight.

Edited by: JANLAR2 at: 5/7/2012 (20:25)
JADOMB SparkPoints: (134,622)
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5/7/12 7:08 P

While I was trying to figure out this site and all the functions, I was trying to be really precise in my intake and exertion. The problem I found though, is when I was putting in too many exercises that had a calorie count, my nutritional intake value kept going up. Which then made me feel like I could eat more. I think that was one of the reasons that in the past couple weeks of tracking I had odd weight gains.

Now it doesn't matter how much I do of ST I just let it go. My only calorie count is for my cardio and it says I am using up to 1000 calories per week. I eat at the lower end of my nutritional range so I'm probably getting an extra 500-800 calories that I don't need to burn off. So that would make my caloric burn at around 1800. Yet I am still losing around 1.5 lbs per week on an average. Since science says I need to have a 3500 calorie deficit to lose around 1 lbs, I figure my regular activities and my ST are making up for the 1700 calories that my cardio doesn't accomplish.

So I just don't worry much about it. I worry more about NOT going over 2000 calories of intake. The rest just falls into place.

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
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5/7/12 6:38 P

If you do a substantial amount of weight training and you find you have energy issues, the solution is simply to eat more until you no longer have the problem. SParkpeople does a great job for the vast majority of people, but some find the one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work for them. And that's okay. Some people alter the program to suit their needs, either by eating more or less than SParkpeople recommends. You have the power to do that; feel free.

5/7/12 6:27 P


There is no accurate way including under laboratory conditions to evaluate the calories used in a strength training workout. There are too many variables since the only true measure of calories used is to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide doing aerobic exercise, it is not possible with anaerobic exeercise. In addition there is no way to evaluate EPOC.

GLENNPARSONS SparkPoints: (0)
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5/7/12 12:00 P

I don't think this program is designed to recognize strength training as a calorie consumer. It really should be. I know if I do strength training and don't increase my caloric intake I will be deficient and eventually be able to lift less and less. A few years ago I was on a different program and did exaclty this. After a while began to get weaker and weaker and felt light headed and generally lousy.
Hopefully, Sparkpeople will begin including calories in strength training fitness.

JADOMB SparkPoints: (134,622)
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3/18/12 8:29 P

I saw that and look forward to that process as I get better conditioned and get back into heavier weights. Thanks

3/18/12 7:44 P

Scroll down, I posted this several days ago.

"The one additional factor you need to take into consideration is that strength training has an after burn effect or excess post exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC meaning the body continues to use calories after the workout ceases."

JADOMB SparkPoints: (134,622)
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3/18/12 12:05 P

All good info. SgtMgr, great post on you blog. You said clearly what I've been trying to explain as my present workout plan. I do cardio then "conditioning"/ST. A large part of my present workout is trying to condition myself to be able to go further back into my true ST. So in that mode, I do burn calories since calisthenics is a large part of my conditioning/ST. Right now I am not recording it, but I know I could put down 100-200 calorie burn for my 1 hour workout.

CLICKMASTER1 SparkPoints: (0)
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3/18/12 11:14 A

I may as well throw another 2 cents into the mix. None of the above mentions the "afterburn" effect which can be achieved via the mitochondrial amplification chain and can double the caloric expenditure created by the mechanical work. It's a function of training intensity and only occurs in anaerobic (strength) training. Just another reason why trying to estimate the burn during strength training is guess work.

Good luck and good health!!

MPLANE37 SparkPoints: (79,230)
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3/18/12 10:24 A

In order to get a feel for the calories burned in strength training, compare it to cardio workouts, e.g. running. If you run 2 miles, your legs probably do around 6400 reps of lifting your weight up a few inches, let us say 2 inches. In none of those reps you actually exceed the maximum load bearing capacity of your legs, otherwise you could not do such a large number of reps.

In strength training, you load the machine up to a level that will exceed the capacity of your legs in say, 16 reps, and that should be larger than your weight, and you lift it by 20 inches. If you do the math, even if during the strength training your heart rate hits 150, you can't burn more than 3% of what you burn in running 2 miles. It is simply because the work done in 16 reps of strength training your legs is about 3% of work done in 6400 reps of running 2 miles.

Legs have big muscles. If you work the small muscles like your arms during strength training, you can still get your heart rate pretty elevated but the calories burned during the exercise will be very small.

An estimate of 550 kCals per hour may be reasonable for a man strength training his legs or his back, which are large muscles. But take into account the fact that the net time spent for training these muscles would not exceed 6-8 min. That puts the calories spent in less than 100kCals. Other muscles will burn much less.

The real benefit to strength training is increasing the muscle mass relative to the fat mass, and that way increasing the basal metabolic rate which will consume the fat given sufficient time.

Edited by: MPLANE37 at: 3/18/2012 (10:46)
PARISAPRIL1 SparkPoints: (0)
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3/18/12 10:02 A

It drives me crazy too! In fact I have asked this same question in the past.

When I do a leg workout day it looks like this, 4 sets of each exercise using free weights.

Wide Squats - 16 reps/60-80lbs
One Legged Deadlifts - 12 reps/40lbs - each leg
Step Ups(knee height) - 16 reps/40lbs - each leg
Bulgarian Squats - 12 reps/40lbs each leg
Deadlifts - 16reps/40lbs

I can drink 3-4 glasses of water and sweat my ass off. I'm panting and I can feel my heart beating. But I can't enter it as anything.

ILOVEJIM851991 SparkPoints: (183,539)
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3/17/12 6:46 A

I've used other sites and it always estimates callories burned in strength training at about 550 per hour. Also the Les Miles BodyPump says it burns about 550 for the hour class if you want to use those as estimates. Here I catagorize them depending on the intensity as circuit training (700+ per hour) or in the other category where you can enter it yourself.

JADOMB SparkPoints: (134,622)
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3/17/12 1:00 A

I'll check it out tomorrow, thanks

3/15/12 6:19 P


Check my blog Bodyweight training, conditioning or strength

JADOMB SparkPoints: (134,622)
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3/15/12 5:05 P

Since I am doing ST as a quasi endurance activity, I tend to reach cardio status when doing it more than when I am just lifting weights. Part of that is also due to more than half of my ST is calisthenics. So just for the fun of it I put in 60 minutes of Calisthenics and it came out as 430. While I know I was pushing it and was keeping my HR above 130 most the time, I just don't think I burned that much. Maybe half would be closer. So I'm still playing around with what I see in counters and searches to see how I really feel I am doing. I do know I am burning at a good rate since I am still losing at 1-2 lb per week. My intake is on the low end of my range so If I did nothing, I should be able to lose up to 1 lb per week. But since I ave. burning 400 per day, I pretty much guarantee 1-2 lbs per week ave.

So if one is really wanting to use something to count their ST, calisthenics may be a good one. Just look at it honestly and you may have to just count half the time actually spent to get a closer est.

3/15/12 1:32 P

For what it is worth there is no accurate way outside of a laboratory to measure calories consumed for any activity, every chart, model or electronic devise is just a guesstimate. The best thing to do is measure calories in since that will give you a more accurate assessment if you adjust for the portion size listed. You have to adjust for the portion size since that is often reduced below a normal serving to make the numbers work out.

The one additional factor you need to take into consideration is that strength training has an after burn effect or excess post exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC meaning the body continues to use calories after the workout ceases.

CLICKMASTER1 SparkPoints: (0)
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3/15/12 10:38 A

This is a test...I just want to see what happens when I reply to a reply.

Building muscle and burning fat are independent processes and can be accomplished together just as well as separately. It's an old bodybuilding myth that you must consume many calories to build muscle (bulk) and then starve yourself to lose fat (cut). You can do both at the same time simply by eating and training properly. seems if I'm not careful we can easily annoy myself with emails. Note to self - remember to uncheck the box to send emails.

Edited by: CLICKMASTER1 at: 3/15/2012 (10:45)
MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,461
3/13/12 3:55 A

How about doing something really simple, like a 10 or 20 minute walk? This is still going to give your body sufficient rest, but at least you will then not have a zero in the calories column.

CLICKMASTER1 SparkPoints: (0)
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3/13/12 3:29 A

If you want to measure your energy output, fine. However, it really makes no difference if you know it or not. For example, if you want to burn fat, all you have to do is eat your BMR daily and all activity will go toward fat loss. Beyond that, it's only the results that matter. Most people "guestimate" energy output anyway and their numbers are probably quite far from accurate.

Good luck and good health!!

Edited by: CLICKMASTER1 at: 3/15/2012 (10:33)
UNIDENT Posts: 33,498
3/13/12 1:51 A

When I used the 'Circuit training' entry, it offered far more calories than I felt was reasonable. But the "Curves circuit training" offered a value I was more comfortable with.

I feel it's neither cheating me, nor cheating the system, if I log ST as either Curves, or manually at 100 cal per hour spent. It might be more than that, it's not likely to be less, but at least I'm not "cheating" with the hugely inflated figures "circuit training" gave me.

MPLANE37 SparkPoints: (79,230)
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3/13/12 12:27 A

If you do strength training correctly, you build muscle, which elevates your basal metabolic rate. That, in turn, will make you burn more calories even when just sitting. You can estimate that increase if you must, but it will be difficult without knowing how much muscle you have built. That is also difficult to measure accurately. Still, if you must, you can get skin calipers to measure your fat percentage, and estimate the muscle mass. If you find that your fat percentage has dropped but your weight has increased, that is obviously because of added muscle mass. However, you can stay at the same weight, reduce fat and build muscle too. Building muscle and reducing the weight is somewhat difficult to achieve though, if not impossible.

Note that you must do serious strength training which challenges your muscles so that they grow, otherwise all bets are off.

Edited by: MPLANE37 at: 3/13/2012 (01:34)
SP_COACH_NANCY SparkPoints: (0)
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3/12/12 10:25 P


As you know the variables with ST make it difficult to accurately predict our calories burned. While you are burning calories, consider this a bonus to those that you do count. I would much rather underestimate my calories expended than overestimate trying to track every activity that we do.

Coach Nancy

RUNGIRL96 SparkPoints: (0)
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3/12/12 10:18 P

I know it shouldn't bug me, but I hate seeing "0 calories burned" on days when I'm not scheduled to do cardio and I do strength training instead. I feel like I'm cheating if I add it to cardio as circuit training (which is really what I do), but I also feel like I'm getting cheated by not getting any credit for burning calories. I know the amount of calories burned is minimal and hard to accurately predict.

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