Is Calorie Burning a Fraud?

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Every treadmill, elliptical and cardio machine that people get on seems to emphasize one thing…. Calories Burned.

Several times I am asked how many calories are burned during a boot camp, strength training session, etc during one of our training sessions.   The easy answer is – I have no idea!

Yes, you read that correctly, we have no idea how many calories you burn during a typical workout.  The amount of calories you burn is dependent on dozens, if not hundreds, of factors including intensity, muscle mass, body weight, duration, stimulant intake, heart rate, metabolic rate, efficiency, and the list goes on and on.  Even those little gadgets that claim to measure your caloric burn are probably inaccurate.  I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t put money on their accuracy.

With the type of training we do at Force their are many other factors to consider besides the number of calories that we burn during the workout.  That is a very short sighted way to approach your fitness or fat loss goals.  And I want to explain the reasoning behind it….

During our high intensity workouts both personal training and group metabolic work (boot camp) you are putting a great deal of stress on the body.  You are using creating a very high metabolic demand on your muscles and energy systems.  Because of the the damage that you are doing to your muscles and the way the the program is designed you will continue to burn calories at an elevated level for up to 24-48 hours after your workouts.  Unlike typical cardio you will burn and elevated number of calories during the work period, but as soon as you stop you will return to normal very quickly.  With metabolic training you will continue to have an increased metabolic effect for long after you are finished.  Have you ever noticed that you feel hot and energized after your work for a few hours?  Something just feels different?  That is the increase in your metabolism from the EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption).  This EPOC will cause you to burn more calories to help the body recover and return to its normal state.

For this reason we have to look much more indepth at our caloric expenditure than during the workout alone.  If you eat right, train hard and monitor your progress you will quickly notice that counting calories, trying to figure out your energy balance and being obsessive about how many calories you burn during a workout.

If you want to look like this you can monitor your calories and only worry about burning more than you consume:


If you want to look like this you can eat the right foods (protein, veggies and healthy fats), train hard and make sure you recover well:

It doesn’t have to be complicated to get in great shape, you just have to be willing to consistently do the right things!

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  • Nick

    I always tell clients to underestimate their calories burned by 30% b/c the machines are so innaccurate! By the way,I really liked your post on Cressey’s site about the 7 most common mistakes power cleaning!!

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