Depressing calorie burn


I just did STS disc 1 and loved it! I felt like I lifted the right weight for all but 4 exercises; one too light and the other 3 were just a bit too heavy. I use a polar HRM for calorie burn and I know I burn way more calories for cardio and lower body work, but c'mon...only 180 cals burned for this 56 min workout!? :mad: I know my HRM bases calorie burn on my age (38) and weight (122-123 lbs) and my HR. (This is the only time I wish I weighed more!)

Well my HR doesn't get up high at all on upper body work, except for push ups. Even when I'm cranking out the few last reps that are hard for me, my HR will only be in the 80's. My resting HR is 48-50 and I am exercising in my
COLD basement. :D

So my questions:

1. Do you think HR monitors accurately measure calorie burn for strength training, or are they just good for cardio or anything that gets the HR up, say over 100 bpm?

2. What other methods do you use to estimate calorie burn for strength training?

Any other suggestions/thoughts?



Hi Sandra,

My understanding is with strength training a lot of the calorie burn occurs afterwards as the muscles are recovering, so I wouldn't worry about the HRM readings.

P.S. I am still amazed with your results and visit your blog whenever I need some motivation/inspiration.
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I was considering purchasing a hrm, and did some research about how they track calories. Everything I read said that they aren't terribly accurate for tracking non-cardio activity calories, since they get their info. from your heart rate. Therefore, if your heart rate isn't elevated on upper body work, it's not going to be a totally accurate calorie burn number.

It is true that a lot of the calorie burn from strength training comes after you're done (EPOC), so keep that in mind. It is frustrating, however, to see such a low number when you've just worked your butt off! I wouldn't worry about the hrm calorie numbers for weights - you can always use one of the online calorie burn calculators to figure approximately what you're burning. Just keep in mind that all of the numbers are approximate, even the hrm during cardio. :)



Thanks for the replies ladies! I don't think I'll wear my HRM for upper body weight training anymore, just cardio stuff. Too depressing to work that hard and look down and see low numbers.

I looked up several other sites and they put me at 300-350 cal for vigorous weight training for 56 min, so I'm going with the lower number to be conservative. 300 is way better than 180!! Yes, HRM's don't seem to be accurate for non-cardio activity and I know they are just estimates...I just want the most accurate estimate. :D Ok, feeling better, thanks!


Get this..

I wore mine too and I only cranked out 98 calories on my HR monitor. I felt like I was working hard too.

I'm 5'1" and 125.

Depressing isn't it? Glad you did the research now I can feel better.


You'll probably see a lot more calorie burn on your lower body workouts. Upper body muscles just aren't that big, and (for me anyway) they fatigue earlier than butt and leg muscles. Don't get hung up on calories for upper body workouts - you might want to concentrate more on how much stronger you're getting instead! Try wearing your HRM for leg day and see if that gives you more of a burn.


Kathy G

What brand/model of heart rate monitor are you using? Some brands or models don't count calorie burn for anything under 100 bpm.

I have a Polar F11 that counts everything and I burned about 300-400 calories per workout for the STS upper body workouts I've done so far (I'm in week 3 of Meso 1).



I don't wear my hrm

for strength training or for flexibility training (yoga) either. I only use it for cardio so I don't get too complacent and not work hard enough. I wouldn't worry about the calorie burn. Just aim for plenty of protein, good fats and lots of vegies to keep you on track. Also, if you do a workout with a weighted vest don't forget to adjust the weight on your HRM before you start, otherwise you aren't getting an accurate reading. Add the weight of the vest to your body weight.

I don't burn much calories with my yoga practice but I always lose weight if I do it and I don't lose weight as easily without it.


I burn about 200 calories an hour for upper body workouts. And that's based on a HRM that uses my personal profile, not on a generic HRM. My HR just doesn't get up that high during these STS UB workouts, either. I would suspect your HRM is accurate enough. You're just not going to burn that much.

Mine tends to give me different readings depending on how tight the band is and where on my wrist its placed. For strength and yoga I wear it higher up on my wrist, so I can bend my hand back, but for cardio I wear it right on my wrist.

STS CSB 1 was 1365cal but Legs 3 was 80cal. I had a new battery put in it and its still giving these erratic readings. I try just to think of it as a guideline, and try to top the cal burned the next workout. So the next legs workout I'll try and top 80. {not exactly hard!}


Yes, but Penguin, dear, Penguins have different physiology than humans. ;)

Seriously, I think your HRM is toast. Definitely not giving anything close to helpful.


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