How many calories do I burn doing specific exercises?

Do you ever wonder how many calories you’re burning in a CrossFit class or when lifting weights? Sure, it’s easy to find estimates of cardio exercises like running and biking online. It’s so much harder to find estimates for weight lifting and body weight movements. I mean, how many calories does 1 push up or 1 burpee burn?

Well, through the awesomeness that is Physics (normally we stick to biology and physiology around here, but man is physics awesome!) here are some estimates for males and females for how many calories are burned based on movement and body weight!

Note: A lot of calculation went into these numbers, and they are an average for males and females. The calculations should be accurate within about 5%.

Calories by Weight and Exercise

Here’s how you use the chart:

Let’s say you know that your weight in pounds (lbs) is 175. You just did 50 push-ups at a moderate pace. With me?

Good, now find the Push-up row for pounds. Multiple your numbers: 175 x 50 x 0.0004 to get 3.5 calories!

But your muscles are only about 20% efficient. This means you actually need about 5x that many calories – or about 17.5 calories – to actually do the work.

Whoa! Not that much, really. Based on the physics, you don’t burn that many calories from just doing the movement. For strengthening, these moves are awesome, but for fat loss they’re not the end all, be all.

Moral: Yay, physics! Boo, burpees!