Daily Calories for Weight Lifting

Aim for at least three sets of eight to 20 repetitions.
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Food is the fuel that your body requires for successful weight-training, and the number of calories you consume each day can make or break each strength session. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggests pumping iron at least two times each week. Your fitness and weight goals determine your daily calorie needs for lifting weight.

Strength-Training Basics

    Lifting weights on a regular basis can trim and tone your problem areas, such as muffin tops or love handles. Strength-training increases muscle definition, burns body fat and reduces your chronic disease risks, according to a review published in 2009 edition of “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.” For best results, work each muscle group – including your legs, glutes, back, chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps and abdomen -- at least one time weekly.

Weight Maintenance

    If weight maintenance is the goal of lifting weights, your caloric needs are 16 to 18 calories per pound of your body weight, according to Harvard Health Publications. If you’re moderately active, shoot for 16 calories per pound; if you lift weights regularly, aim for 18 calories per pound of your body weight. For example, an avid weightlifter who weighs 125 pounds and pumps iron regularly needs about 2,250 calories daily to maintain her physique.

Weight Loss

    Combining weight lifting with cardiovascular exercises, such as walking, jogging, biking or using an elliptical machine, can help you meet your weight-loss goal. The 2009 review in “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” notes getting more than four hours of exercise, including strength training, each week is associated with weight loss. Boost your caloric expenditure by 500 to 1,000 calories a day by working out, reduce your calories by the same amount or combine these two methods to create a 500- to 1,000-calorie-per-day caloric deficit. This strategy will help you lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Build Muscle Mass

    Building muscle mass warrants an increase in calories. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency recommends boosting your intake by 500 to 1,000 calories daily to pack on pounds in the form of muscle. Weight lifting regularly is also a must. Train most days of the week, but avoid working the same muscle group two days in a row to allow time for proper muscle recovery. As you become stronger, slightly increase the amount of weight you’re lifting for maximum muscle gains.

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