T Nation

How Many Calories Are Burned Per Pound of Weight Lifted?

I know there are calculations for calories burned for a duration of time depending on the weight of the individual. But id like to know if there is a calculated amount of calories burned per pound of weight lifted.

For example, if I bench 135 ten times, approximately how many calories did that burn to lift that?


You can find estimators that will give you a number for light vs intensive effort. You’ll probably won’t have much luck with actual poundage because you need to consider multiple dimensions such strength levels, the movement type, etc and that is hard to represent.

I am interested in knowing how you would intend to use such information.

I was thinking of tracking my workouts by pounds pushed/pulled, finding benchmarks and setting daily goals from that. The calorie count would be a bonus to know.

I understand what you’re trying to do, but I really recommend not looking at your weightlifting session as a direct calorie burn opportunity - it’s pretty inefficient for that purpose.

Now, indirectly, it can burn a ton of calories through hypertrophy. Muscle is metabolically active, so building more will help you burn more calories all day.

And oxygen debt. Don’t forget that.


be great if this was true

Well, you can calculate work as force time distance. The load will be approximately the force in this case even though you are accelerating it. You can then convert units to figure out how many joules are needed to do that work, and then convert to calories, then to kilo calories (what we actually think of as a calorie).

Now this would be for a perfectly efficient machine, which none of us are, so you would have to figure out an estimate of human efficiency to lift a load. Without doing that though, you could get to a minimum amount of calories burned, and assume you burned at least that many calories. You would have a lower bounding.