How does weight training burn calories?

Weight training is such an important influence on overall weight loss so, be quick, grab your dumbbells and get LIFTING! :D 

Weight Training has developed quickly over recent years with more and more gym-goers opting to lift weights instead of running on a treadmill and for good reason, the results can be LIFE CHANGING! Weights give you the chance to build the desired shape you've been looking for, but how can utilising weights help you to burn more calories than running? Simply with consistency and understanding.

This article has been put together to help you understand why weight training should be the way forward in your own workouts, with the outcome of helping you to enjoy fitness and see the results you have been working so hard to achieve.

How does weight training burn calories?

weight Training Benefits

  • Weight Loss
  • Muscle Gain
  • Increased Overall Fitness
  • Goal Orientated
  • More Energetic
  • Improved Mental Health
  • Strength Gains
  • Fun
  • Reduced Injury Risk

How does lifting really burn fat?

Lifting weights stimulates muscle growth, overtime this growth is key to burn calories faster, leading to body fat loss. The more muscle you have the higher and more effective the metabolism has to be. The thyroid is responsible for increasing the bodies oxygen and energy intake (Basal Metabolic Rate). BMR relates to how much energy (calories) a body needs on a daily basis to perform the necessary functions to survive! 

Weight sessions can differ in levels of intensity and for a number of reasons, this could be due to your rest periods, weights being used and even the specific exercises you choose.

How many calories do you actually burn?

The number of calories burnt is completely dependent on how hard the body works to perform an exercise. The metabolic equivalent of task (MET) can be important to understand as this can tell you how many calories you burn during your workouts.

Netflix and Chill1.0
Cycling - 24mph5.0
Running - 12 Min Mile8.5
Running - 8 Min Mile12.5

You may look at the table above and question why we are trying to tell you to lift weights, you can clearly see that running requires your body to use more energy and we would absolutely agree with you, in principle. Although, running does not build muscle mass, while it is a good way to start reducing body fat can you honestly say you could keep it up for a long period of time and if you do are you sure you will be happy with the results? After all running loses fat but without some muscle mass it is almost impossible to keep it at bay, unless your diet is incredibly controlled!

Understanding that everyone is individual can be the real difference maker while you are trying to burn some extra calories. Comparing your progress with friends or celebrities via social media is not healthy in the slightest. Somebody may burn 200 calories more than you performing the same workout and that is okay.

If you are looking for an easy way to track how many calories you are burning throughout the day then we would suggest you look into a fitness tracker or smart watch as they can take measurements from your heart rate that will help you to understand the calories you are actively burning.

Factors affecting how many calories you burn


Looking back at the thyroid, each task that we perform in our daily lives requires a metabolic rate. The harder we work our bodies the higher the metabolic rate is going to be.

using the correct weights

How heavy you lifting during your sessions will have a direct impact on how many calories are being burnt. A heavy weight is relative, what is heavy for you may not be heavy for someone else and that is okay. The heavier you can lift with good form, the harder your body has to work thus, more calories are burnt.

Using the appropriate weights to burn calories effectively

Type of workout

Choosing an appropriate type of workout is important, using High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can be an extremely useful way to utilise weights while doing some cardio at the same time. HIIT keeps the heart rate in a much more elevated state, requiring your body to work harder!

Length of rest

Utilising rest is a key part to your workouts but the idea is not to take too long as every second that passes your body edges closer and closer to homeostasis (steady state).

Length of rest affecting calories being burnt

exercises performed

Every workout MUST consist of using compound exercises to stand any chance of burning a high number of calories. A compound exercise is an exercise which requires 2 or more joints and a large number of muscles to perform the movement safely and effectively.

5 exercises that will burn the most calories

1. Squats

Squats have thousands of variations these days but one thing is still certain, a squat uses a HUGE number of muscles!

2. Lunges

Lunges are also another exercise which has a large number of variations, they are a great calorie burner due to the number of muscles that have to engage to create movement and stabilise to ensure you do not fall over.

3. Deadlifts

Every workout routine has to involve some form of deadlift, whether it is a conventional, sumo or stiff leg deadlift! Any deadlift is vital to be included as they really are the king of all exercises, using the most muscles and requiring a tonne of power, these beauty's really get those calories burning.

4. Bench Press

Bench Press is usually seen as a male dominated exercise but it is an exercise that everyone should be doing at least once per week due to the amount of muscle recruitment is needed. It would also be advisable to learn how to bench press, not necessarily to a competition standard but for the sake of not picking up an injury.

5. Clean and press

The Clean and Press is one of the most underrated exercises used throughout weight training programs. Many different muscles around the body are used to complete a Clean and Press with excellent form, large muscular contractions leads to increased calorie burning.

In summary

Utilising weight training as a means to burn calories and reduce body fat is definitely the way to go. This being said, cardio is still very important to your overall health. If you are looking to reduce your body fat and increase your muscle tone and don't know where to start then feel free to contact us about our online coaching and we will help you to achieve your goals! 


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