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TOPIC: how many calories should you burn in one workout?

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May 13, 2012 12:56 PM
Is there an upper limit as to how many calories I should shoot to burn each time I workout? I have been shooting for 3500 calories a week (500 a day, I have a little challenge going on with my friends). I am curious if you guys think I am working out too hard or too much? I am having a hard time not getting carried away with looking at my heart rate monitor and burning as much as possible but I do not want to stall my progress by overtraining. Doing mostly cardio (running and elliptical) till my fat goes away and then I will work on the muscles. How many do you try to burn each time you work out? weekly? Thanks in advance.
  14463935
May 13, 2012 1:02 PM
I just aim in to get my planned workout, which concentrates on weight lifting and then I add 15 minutes of cardio. I burn anywhere from 150-350 calories 3 times a week working out for an hour. I do not concentrate on a number, I don't even look at my hrm until I stop it at the end.
May 13, 2012 1:09 PM
How is that working for you??
  14463935
May 13, 2012 1:10 PM
I have a Fitbit Ultra. I try to log 10,000. steps per day for a total of 70,000 a week. That burn is anywhere from 400-700...700 only when I did over 20,000 steps. Then I do others 3 x a week...like Zumba, General Dancing, weights and anything that burns, however my fitbit is on vanity when I do them.My personal preference. I don't know what works for others but I am very happy with 300-500 a day.

bump for others input.
  15277136
May 13, 2012 1:21 PM
That's fabulous nannabananna. My kids call my mother Nana. I started out with walking 10,000 steps a day. Now I am really enjoying the feeling of getting my heart rate up.
  14463935
May 13, 2012 1:24 PM
you arent going to overtrain. it takes sveral months- years to reach overtraining status and usually the people who run that risk are those who are professional athletes who are exercising for hours and hours a day several days a week. you working out an hour a day will not overtrain you. there are days when i burn as much as 1800 calories from exercise, but for the most part i'm somewhere in the 500-1000 calorie range depending on the workout. i also work out 6 days a week and the 7th is an active rest day where i probably burn like 200-300 calories from my activity

also it's more efficient to start weight training now rather than splitting it up since that way is essentially making twice the work.

also if you arent working your muscles, i can guarantee you that you are losing muscle as well as fat as you lose weight. loss of muscle will slow your metabolism down, also since muscle is very hard to build you should try to keep as much of it as you can while you're losing weight
Edited by meshashesha2012 On May 13, 2012 1:25 PM
  12840602
May 13, 2012 1:25 PM
I plan my workout ahead of time and not focus on the # of calories.
On lift days I have the particular lifts scheduled for that day and I get in and do them. If I feel like I still have a quality set left in me for a particular lift, then I add it.
On cardio days I plan a particular distance and try to get it done within a certain amount of time.

The calories take care of themselves if I am pushing my intensity.
Edited by trelm249 On May 13, 2012 1:25 PM
  1825423
May 13, 2012 2:45 PM
QUOTE:

you arent going to overtrain. it takes sveral months- years to reach overtraining status and usually the people who run that risk are those who are professional athletes who are exercising for hours and hours a day several days a week. you working out an hour a day will not overtrain you. there are days when i burn as much as 1800 calories from exercise, but for the most part i'm somewhere in the 500-1000 calorie range depending on the workout. i also work out 6 days a week and the 7th is an active rest day where i probably burn like 200-300 calories from my activity

also it's more efficient to start weight training now rather than splitting it up since that way is essentially making twice the work.

also if you arent working your muscles, i can guarantee you that you are losing muscle as well as fat as you lose weight. loss of muscle will slow your metabolism down, also since muscle is very hard to build you should try to keep as much of it as you can while you're losing weight


wow 1800 is a big calorie burn for one time!!. I have been reading a lot and read that your progress can stall if you work out too much and if you do not allow your body to rest. The weight has been so hard for me to get rid of probably due to my age as well. My legs are definitely building muscle while I am running and plenty of people lose weight successfully while running or doing other types of exercise for that matter. I have seen many very successful stories of people losing with cardio so I do not believe it to be so black and white. I was lifting for a while, but the scale was at a standstill for a looong time and I do also believe in switching things up if what you are doing isn't working. I just want to lost the weight at this point (I am close to normal weight now) and then build the muscle. Like I said, I do believe I am building muscles while working out and I do believe that different things work for different people. As long as you are not sitting on the couch all day long, you are going to have progress. I will go back to lifting soon, I only have 5 kilos to get rid of. Thanks for taking the time to respond!! :)
  14463935
May 13, 2012 5:09 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

you arent going to overtrain. it takes sveral months- years to reach overtraining status and usually the people who run that risk are those who are professional athletes who are exercising for hours and hours a day several days a week. you working out an hour a day will not overtrain you. there are days when i burn as much as 1800 calories from exercise, but for the most part i'm somewhere in the 500-1000 calorie range depending on the workout. i also work out 6 days a week and the 7th is an active rest day where i probably burn like 200-300 calories from my activity

also it's more efficient to start weight training now rather than splitting it up since that way is essentially making twice the work.

also if you arent working your muscles, i can guarantee you that you are losing muscle as well as fat as you lose weight. loss of muscle will slow your metabolism down, also since muscle is very hard to build you should try to keep as much of it as you can while you're losing weight


wow 1800 is a big calorie burn for one time!!. I have been reading a lot and read that your progress can stall if you work out too much and if you do not allow your body to rest. The weight has been so hard for me to get rid of probably due to my age as well. My legs are definitely building muscle while I am running and plenty of people lose weight successfully while running or doing other types of exercise for that matter. I have seen many very successful stories of people losing with cardio so I do not believe it to be so black and white. I was lifting for a while, but the scale was at a standstill for a looong time and I do also believe in switching things up if what you are doing isn't working. I just want to lost the weight at this point (I am close to normal weight now) and then build the muscle. Like I said, I do believe I am building muscles while working out and I do believe that different things work for different people. As long as you are not sitting on the couch all day long, you are going to have progress. I will go back to lifting soon, I only have 5 kilos to get rid of. Thanks for taking the time to respond!! :)


ok i misled a little bit laugh those 1800 calorie days are days i go twice a day

also i know you said that you believe are building muscle when you're working out, but you more than likely arent. in fact you are more than likely losing muscle since you're not giving your body much of an excuse to keep it (eating at a deficit + skipping resistance training). muscle takes a lot of energy for your body to maintain (which is why it raises your metabolism) and your body is designed to not waste energy.

muscle is extremely hard to build beyond newbie gains (which you've probably already made it past) keep in mind that male bodybuilders (who already have an easier time building muscle because of their testosterone) have to work out hours a day and eat special diets above their maintenance to create muscle.

in general it take bodybuilders 2 years of that type of dedication (specialized diets + supplements + hours of weight training) to build 6-10 pounds of muscle, so it's highly unlikely that you, a female NOT weightlifting and eating under your maintenance calories, are packing on muscle...

just saying, if muscle were that easy to build then why would people need to take steroids to help them build muscle?
  12840602
May 13, 2012 5:33 PM
I try and aim for at least 400 a day, 6 days a week in exercise. Sometimes, I go as high as 1000+ if I do a long cycle ride. Today's was over 900 burnt, but I tend to prefer to stick to something manageable on a daily basis.
May 13, 2012 5:41 PM
500 a day is completely fine. But your body will tell you if you are overtraining, listen to it.

The ""cardio now, weights later" plan is actually an awful one. You will lose a lot of muscle on the way down, which is bad:
1) Muscle is metabolically active, moreso than fat, so it is lowering your BMR to lose muscle
2) A pound of muscle occupies less space than a pound of fat, so if you lose a pound of muscle, your measurements/sizes will decrease less than if you lost a pound of fat
3) In general, people have a look that they want, which is basically a certain body fat %. I would be at the body fat % that I want to be at if I hadn't lost muscle when I was training for a half marathon :(
  9684357
May 14, 2012 2:11 AM
There is a cardio camp and a weight lifting camp I am finding. I think that if I am getting out there moving my body that it is a really great and positive thing. I used to be a couch potato 5 months ago, then started walking a ton and was weight lifting, but now back to elliptical and just started running. I cannot see how what I am doing is a terrible idea?? or negative in any way, I really wish people would stop promoting their chosen lifestyles as the only way to do things. I do not have any grand plan to be some fitness queen. My main goal at the moment is to be normal weight. If I am building muscle, I will not get there very quickly. One of my friends who is weight training a lot has not lost a pound in months. Once I get to normal weight range in a healthy way, I will work on scuplting my body. One focus at a time.
  14463935
May 14, 2012 3:24 AM
QUOTE:

If I am building muscle, I will not get there very quickly. One of my friends who is weight training a lot has not lost a pound in months.


While this may be true, she's getting smaller from the inches being lost.. while you, probably are not.

I'm with the cardio and strength training camp.. you need both in order to have a nice balance.

As far as your original question goes, there really isn't a limit on how many calories you burn.. I only spend an 30 minutes to an hour in the gym, and what I burn in that time frame, I burn.
  6370231
May 14, 2012 3:32 AM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

If I am building muscle, I will not get there very quickly. One of my friends who is weight training a lot has not lost a pound in months.


While this may be true, she's getting smaller from the inches being lost.. while you, probably are not.

I'm with the cardio and strength training camp.. you need both in order to have a nice balance.



this is right.
By doing cardio only, you will be burning muscle as well as fat, so you burn less calories and eventually the loss will slow down or stop and you will end up 'skinnyfat'. To then build muscle back up you will have to eat at a surplus and regain some of the weight.

If you add weights now, you will likely not gain much muscle, but will preserve what you have. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn so this will actually HELP you lose, and as your fat level reduces you will look leaner and more toned than if you had just done cardio.


this shows why its important to weight train and not just do cardio - would you rather be smaller and weigh more, or be bigger and weigh less??:
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/392784-skinny-fat-vs-fit-photo?hl=skinny+fat
Edited by em9371 On May 14, 2012 3:33 AM
  6110710
May 14, 2012 3:41 AM
I will not be skinny fat. I feel the muscles in my legs by all the walking and running I have been doing!! and I bet that none of you eat as healthy as I do every single day. I only have 5 kilos left. I didn't say that I wasn't going to work on my muscles either. Where is all this science that you guys are spouting off??. Actually when I first started this journey I lost a ton of inches and I wasn't weight training at all back then and I have been weight training on this journey. I just want to wake up every day knowing I am normal weight, maybe overrated to you but would mean a great deal to me!!!. Once I get there, my other goals will take over. My question wasn't which exercise I should choose!! It was can you work out too much!! This is seriously frustrating me.
  14463935
May 14, 2012 3:55 AM
I Work out every day in my lunch hour so i aim to cram in my cardio then! then when i get home my goal is to do my weights and sit ups etc. I do a daily 3 mile run at the gym so burn about 300cals then i aim to burn between 1-200 cals on the elliptical. I do think im stuck in a bit of a rut though and getting frustrated i no i need to vary what im doing to loose weight but at the moment im not in the mood to even go to the gym let alone push my boundarys!!!

Sounds like your burning about right though and good for you having a challenge on with your friends, i no when my friend tells me what shes done at the gym that inspires me!! as long as your feeling good just keep gong i say!!! :-) x
  16709992
May 14, 2012 4:08 AM
Thank you!! I do think variation is a key factor. I too am a creature of habit but I do push my body every single time I work out, and try to do different things each time too whether it be to push up the resistence on the elliptical or to run faster or longer and that is important!!. As long as you are exercising and moving your body and keep pushing it, then it is all positive in my opinion. Not to mention my lung capacity is much better than anyone just lifting weights. Like I said one goal at a time. Losing the last bit of weight is soooo important to me on many levels for many many different reasons. I do not believe my muscles will whither away and die if I temporarily do not lift weights, (that is just plain ludacrice if you believe that) and I don't want to build up big muscles that you can see either (not that it is a bad thing, just not what I want now, maybe once I get the weight off I will feel differently). I just want to feel good within my body. I will be physically fit if I continue what I am doing, I can feel many changes already.
  14463935
May 14, 2012 4:13 AM
I don't really decide on a number. I just go out there and do it. What I do strive for is a minimum of 1 hour.
  2199930
May 14, 2012 4:16 AM
that is an amazing loss lacroyx congrats to you!!!!. Whatever you are doing is working for ya!!
  14463935
May 14, 2012 4:25 AM
Anything is better than nothing it has to be!!! oo yes iv been pushing up the resistance on the elliptical thats a good thing and iv been putting inclines into my runs too so im trying!! i must say though i decided to loose weigh before toning and doing weights! i lost a stone through running and dieting and it was about the time my weigh loss slowed down i started adding weights and things. but im like you, dont want to be 'bulky' in any way shape or form so although i could probobaly lift heavier weights and things i try to keep and a 'maintainable' weight to lift as i hope this will just help me keep some definition? keep up with what your doing it sounds like your doing a great job and keep your goals and reasons why your doing it in your head! the confidence and things that come with loosing the weight is unbelievable and i know that the changes i made are for life i wont ever go back!!
  16709992
May 14, 2012 4:41 AM
yes, I agree with you completely. This is for life, moving and eating healthy is moving in the right direction. I will never go back. I spent 2 years re-teaching myself how to eat!! Now that I have that goal met, it is onto another one. I love making and accomplishing my goals. Lifting weights is good as long as you have a gym in your house, or a membership. I do plan on being active in my life but not sure if I want to pay for a gym membership every month till I die. Staying fit and healthy you can do anywhere. I do believe a modest approach is the best and something you can do for the rest of your life is the best choice. I am thinking in the looooong term because I NEVER plan on being here again EVER.
  14463935
May 14, 2012 4:46 AM
I burn about 1200 calories per day.

I am not sure there is a limit as to how much you burn in one workout, you're most likely going to be limited by time and/or fitness level.
May 14, 2012 4:47 AM
QUOTE:

I will not be skinny fat. I feel the muscles in my legs by all the walking and running I have been doing!! and I bet that none of you eat as healthy as I do every single day. I only have 5 kilos left. I didn't say that I wasn't going to work on my muscles either. Where is all this science that you guys are spouting off??. Actually when I first started this journey I lost a ton of inches and I wasn't weight training at all back then and I have been weight training on this journey. I just want to wake up every day knowing I am normal weight, maybe overrated to you but would mean a great deal to me!!!. Once I get there, my other goals will take over. My question wasn't which exercise I should choose!! It was can you work out too much!! This is seriously frustrating me.


I wasnt saying you were skinnyfat, the link was just to show that weight training is important in order to reduce bodyfat, cardio only will not get you where you want to be.

to answer your original question, you can work out too much.
You should aim for 1-2 rest days per week, and not weight train the same body part 2 days in a row.
Cardio wise, you don't really need to do more than 60 mins a day, and not every day.
If you do a lot of exercise, make sure you take in enough calories to fuel your wokrouts.

As for saying noone eats as healthy as you do every day, regularly coming in 500-1000 calories under goal is NOT healthy at all, and if thats what you eating then you ARE overtraining. The goal MFP gives you is net and therefore exercise cals are intended to be eaten back to meet your goal.

I also exercise around 3500 per week, but eat 2000 / net on average around 1500 and lose 1.5 EVERY week. If I exercise more than that, I will eat more.
  6110710
May 14, 2012 4:49 AM
I burn between 400 & 1000 most days, it works for me
May 14, 2012 4:53 AM
em you didnt answer the original question as it was how many calories should you burn in one workout.

The answer is as many as you want. Why not burn 3000 in one workout?!

But if you do, refuelling is incredibly important.

Also I believe a purely cardiovascular workout plan is perfectly fine for creating a lean build.

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