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Barbell Lifting - Calories Burned WTF

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  • Barbell Lifting - Calories Burned WTF

    I'd like to point out that the current understanding of calories burned doing heavy lifting -- doesn't make sense.

    This site is typical of others, and says 200-400 calories burned for a normal sized male doing moderate to vigorous lifting.
    Calories Burned From One Hour Of Lifting Weights | LIVESTRONG.COM

    After logging everything into Myfitnesspal for the last 9 months, I think someone got their math wrong. Here's the deal:

    * I eat 2000 calories paleo, do nothing, and am weight stable.
    * The calcs say if I cycle for 45min I burn 400 calories. I cycle for 45min, and eat +400 calories and am weight stable. That makes sense.
    * The calcs say if I lift for 45min I burn 400 calories. But when doing heavy barbell lifting for 45 min I eat +1500 calories and am weight stable. Weight doesn't increase until I goto +2000!!! On the other hand, if I only eat +1000 I cut fat like crazy, +400 would be near starvation. Something doesn't make sense.
    * In addition I need to eat about +300 the following day to be weight stable. Thus for me, I would say 45min of near-max weight barbell training requires 1800 calories of energy replenishment.

    So what's the deal? Is it only counting calories burned and not calories to replenish glycogen stores or rebuild muscle fiber or whatever? These online calculations do not seem correct by a long shot, or at least not useful. Does anyone here do heavy lifting and find this 400 calories/hr agrees with your eating experience?

  • #2
    Your right in that the sites don't take into account increased metabolic rate that occurs for sevaral hours (up to about a day it think?) after lifting heavy and/or performing HIIT. You don't get this same metabolic event from steady state cardio.

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    • #3
      It was mentioned on a different thread today the human can store 2000 calories of muscle glycogen.

      Heavy lifting exhausts a large portion of these stores true? Which they aren't counting in their calories burned figure? That would explain the ~1000 calorie delta.

      Someone needs to fix their numbers. I think if we made a proper bar chart showing calories burned /hr of various exercises there would be walking, jogging, bla bla, and then lifting as this massive mountain way above the rest.

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      • #4
        The research on a lot of common presumptions about nutrition, health, and exercise is based on studies that aren't examining people like you. Many of them are barely or not at all supported by what it turns out is bad science. It wouldn't surprise me if the actual studies took sedentary people and put them through a 2 week course of pink dumbbells.

        Even with my low volume of weight lifting, sometimes a good workout makes me roaring hungry and craving protein like mad.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by KimchiNinja View Post
          So what's the deal? Is it only counting calories burned and not calories to replenish glycogen stores or rebuild muscle fiber or whatever?
          Yes, it is only counting the calories actually burned by the activity of lifting the weight, not the calories used afterwards for muscle-protein-synthesis etc...
          The Champagne of Beards

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          • #6
            I'm still pretty cynical that 45mins of weights would burn 1500 kCal...

            If that was the case I would be losing weight like crazy

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            • #7
              Originally posted by maclrc View Post
              I'm still pretty cynical that 45mins of weights would burn 1500 kCal...

              If that was the case I would be losing weight like crazy
              You're probably not lifting with the same intensity as some of us then. Not judging, just saying.
              The Champagne of Beards

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              • #8
                I don't know about 1500 calories, but as a recent starter on barbells I definitely am far more spent after 45 mins than in the metabolic class for 45 min. Both good things, but I'm sure my calorie burn on the barbells is more.
                Primal since 4/7/2012

                Starting weight 140
                Current weigh 126

                www.jenniferglobensky.blogspot.com

                Jennifer

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                • #9
                  As a newcomer to barbell lifting (3 weeks in), I am also struck by how spent I am after a heavy lifting session, how buzzed I am for a couple of hours (presume due to a cocktail of hormones surging around in my blood), and incidentally how sore I am for a few days.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                    You're probably not lifting with the same intensity as some of us then. Not judging, just saying.
                    Maybe so. I'm following 5/3/1 using the BBB variation and a couple of further assisstance exercises each day. Whilst I agree that it isn't as intense as say starting strength, I'm still not exactly just messing around in the gym.

                    But at 75kg my BMR is apparently 1775 kCal factor in a sedentary lifestyle (Harris Benedict equation) and that gives 2130 kCal.

                    If I add a couple of activities on a weekly basis):

                    Cycle commute 800 kCal 3 or 4 times a week = 2400-3200
                    Rugby match 800 kCal once a week

                    This gives me 18,110-18910 kCal per wk or around 2650 per day

                    If I factor in 3 weights sessions at say 1000 kCal I'm at around 3100 per day without factoring in 1 or 2 crossfit sessions a week or any other lighter activity I may end up doing. If I want to gain weight (muscle mass) I'd be looking at close to 4000 kCal per day, if not more!

                    In fact, having worked quickly through that, it does help illustrate just how much an active person has to eat in order to bulk up. Also how cardio (in my case cycling and crossfit) are likely to limit bulking efforts.

                    Very interesting...

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by maclrc View Post
                      Maybe so. I'm following 5/3/1 using the BBB variation and a couple of further assisstance exercises each day. Whilst I agree that it isn't as intense as say starting strength, I'm still not exactly just messing around in the gym.

                      But at 75kg my BMR is apparently 1775 kCal factor in a sedentary lifestyle (Harris Benedict equation) and that gives 2130 kCal.

                      If I add a couple of activities on a weekly basis):

                      Cycle commute 800 kCal 3 or 4 times a week = 2400-3200
                      Rugby match 800 kCal once a week

                      This gives me 18,110-18910 kCal per wk or around 2650 per day

                      If I factor in 3 weights sessions at say 1000 kCal I'm at around 3100 per day without factoring in 1 or 2 crossfit sessions a week or any other lighter activity I may end up doing. If I want to gain weight (muscle mass) I'd be looking at close to 4000 kCal per day, if not more!

                      In fact, having worked quickly through that, it does help illustrate just how much an active person has to eat in order to bulk up. Also how cardio (in my case cycling and crossfit) are likely to limit bulking efforts.

                      Very interesting...
                      Yeah, every single one of those figures is speculative and variable, of course, but I bet you burn a lot more energy as a result of your lifting sessions than you realize.
                      The Champagne of Beards

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by KimchiNinja View Post
                        It was mentioned on a different thread today the human can store 2000 calories of muscle glycogen.

                        Heavy lifting exhausts a large portion of these stores true? Which they aren't counting in their calories burned figure? That would explain the ~1000 calorie delta.

                        Someone needs to fix their numbers. I think if we made a proper bar chart showing calories burned /hr of various exercises there would be walking, jogging, bla bla, and then lifting as this massive mountain way above the rest.
                        Well depending on your workout...if you are keeping it under an hour its highly unlikely that you burn more than 100g or 400 calories of glycogen during a session. I would attribute the extra calorie burn to muscle synthesis and repair along with increased metabolic rate over the course of the next 24 hours.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by maclrc View Post
                          But at 75kg my BMR is apparently 1775 kCal factor in a sedentary lifestyle (Harris Benedict equation) and that gives 2130 kCal.
                          We are about the same stats. I've done a lot of cardio in my past, same as you it looks like. Done the full heart-rate calcs and know how much I burn, and proved it by adding that many calories back and being weight neutral. Cardio calories make sense.

                          That's why I was really shocked at how much I ate following just 45min of NEAR MAX lifting. I'm backing into the number by using the "calories required to stay weight neutral" logic, and concluding that 1800 are spent or triggered for future use during those 45min. It seems the current methods are cardio-based measures applied to heavy lifting, and I'm not sure that captures much of anything useful.

                          As one poster mentioned it could be that some of those calories are being used to make muscle, certainly hope so! It's interesting we say 3500 calories is a pound of fat but we don't specify how many are required for a pound of muscle. Anyhow I'm gaining at most 1lb per month according to the InBody composition analysis machine.

                          So I'm eating a surplus of 21,600 calories a month, staying weight neutral, losing some body fat, and gaining about .7lb muscle. Yeah, I still say whoever made those formulas on the internet got their math wrong. Unless we are saying it takes 21,600 surplus calories to make a pound of muscle

                          Anyhow, I just think it is interesting in that it is probably a very complex formula if anyone ever actually got it right.
                          Last edited by KimchiNinja; 04-23-2013, 11:55 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ronnyyun
                            You don't get this same metabolic event from steady state cardio.
                            So the formula is actually probably something like...

                            [cardio burn (small) + increased metabolism (short term boost) + gyclogen depletion (perhaps sigificant) + calories used to generate muscle (lots)]

                            In other words manly heavy lifting burns an ass load of calories.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by KimchiNinja View Post
                              Unless we are saying it takes 21,600 surplus calories to make a pound of muscle
                              It takes a lot, but I don't know if anyone has even bothered to guess at a number. A pound of muscle is only 600-something calories, but the process of synthesizing it is apparently quite an energy-intensive event. Sounds like you're having great success with your 21,600 kCal surplus and your training. Keep it up and keep counting those calories and let us know what the number is after you've put on 20 or 30 lbs of lean meat.
                              The Champagne of Beards

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