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How to Burn More Calories

Want to know the best way to start burning more calories? Start focusing in on your strength training instead of your cardio workouts. In fact, a new study out of Arizona State University suggests that resistance exercise (aka strength training) may actually burn twice as many calories as we once thought. These researchers hypothesized that the energy-expenditure equation traditionally used to determine the calories burned during resistance training is misguided. The long-held method involves measuring oxygen consumption constantly during resistance training to estimate caloric expenditure, which is identical to the method used for determining those numbers for activities like running and biking. The issue is that resistance training is an anaerobic activity, involving short bursts of effort followed by recovery, rather than a constant aerobic effort.

In this new study, the researchers figured that it made more sense to measure oxygen consumption after resistance training, not during, to more accurately determine caloric expenditure. To do this, they had participants do three trials of a circuit that included push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and lunges. Lo and behold, they discovered a major discrepancy in the number of supposed calories burned depending on how oxygen consumption was measured.

When they measured oxygen consumption during the rest periods between the strength exercises, nearly twice the caloric expenditure was reported. Instead of burning 4.09 calories per minute of sit-ups, participants burned 7.29. Instead of 4.03 calories torched per minute of pull-ups, they burned 9.95 calories.

This is important because while most resistance-training exercises weren’t considered to be “vigorous” activities under the old energy-expenditure equation, the new one shows that most of these exercises should be considered just that. Keep in mind that while caloric expenditure for activities like running varies depending on things like body weight and speed, the Mayo Clinic reports that a 160-pound individual running 5 miles per hour burns around 606 calories per hour. Considering this, it makes sense to do resistance training in conjunction with aerobic exercise if you’re hoping to lose weight.