Does Weightlifting Burn More Calories Than Aerobic Exercise?

Weightlifting typically won't help you burn as many calories as aerobic exercise.

Weightlifting typically won't help you burn as many calories as aerobic exercise.

The reasons to work out are nearly infinite, with common scenarios including improving your overall health, building muscle and losing weight. If you're interested in getting in shape through burning calories, consider adopting a workout regimen that helps you burn as many calories as possible in a short period of time. Weightlifting and aerobic exercise offer a load of benefits, but one is better for burning calories than the other.


Gyms are typically equipped with enough machines and free weights to help you work every major muscle group in your body. The primary goal of most weightlifters is to bulk up their muscles; if you're simply looking to lose weight, this isn't the best type of exercise to adopt. If you weigh 130 pounds and lift weights at a relaxed pace for an hour, you'll burn just 177 calories. Increase your intensity to a vigorous level, and you can expect to burn 354 calories per hour.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise takes on several forms, and each provides numerous benefits. The common factor with all aerobic workouts is that you use multiple muscle groups vigorously enough to elevate your heart rate, which helps you burn calories at a rapid pace. Virtually all aerobic exercises help you burn calories quicker than weightlifting. A 130-pound person who cycles for 60 minutes at a moderate pace will burn 472 calories, while the same person who takes an hour-long step aerobics class will burn 502 calories.

Weightlifting Benefits

Don't dismiss weightlifting as a valuable workout just because it won't help you burn calories as quickly as an aerobic workout. In addition to helping you burn fat to a certain extent, weightlifting improves the coordination of your muscles, keeps your joints flexible and increases the strength of your bones. It'll also help you tone your body and bulk up, which is useful for certain sports and can help you feel more attractive. Additionally, the muscle that you build in weightlifting provides more than just visual appeal; compared with fat, muscle is significantly more metabolically active, which means your metabolism will increase due to weightlifting. The result is an ability to burn even more calories, even when you're not actually working out.

Aerobic Exercise Benefits

Regardless of the type of aerobic exercise you adopt, the Mayo Clinic reports that doing it on a regular basis will help you live longer. Aerobic exercise's benefits include increasing the blood flow throughout your body, improving your lung capacity and boosting your heart health. Regular aerobic exercise helps flush toxins out of your body and release endorphin hormones, which help improve your mood.

About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

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