If you're like most people out there currently working hard to shed those last few stubborn pounds, you realize that your results depend on a number of factors. You have to take into account the diet program that you're using, the type of exercise that you're doing on an everyday basis, the impact that exercise will have on your metabolic rate, as well as the amount of lean muscle mass you currently possess.
All of these factors are going to be working together to help determine your net calorie balance, which is the comparison of the total number of calories that you've burned off over the course of the day with the total number of calories that you've consumed over the course of the day.
Anyone who's ever been successful with fat loss already knows that in order to see top level results, you need to get that calorie balance tilting towards the negative end of things and in your favor.
By understanding all the factors of the workout side of things that can improve your overall calorie burn not only during the workout session but in the time period after you're done, you can take a large step forward in the right direction.
Let's take a look at the factors that you should know about that either do or do not influence the calorie burn of the workout you are going to perform.
Factors That Impact Calorie Burn
1. The Exercise Selection Chosen
The very first of the factors that will largely influence how many calories you burn off during any given training session is the specific exercise selection that you choose to use. If you want to maximize how many calories you burn off during each and every workout you do, there's no question that you must be working as many muscle fibers at once as possible.
The more muscle fibers that you stimulate during a movement, the more total energy that will be needed by the body in order to get those muscles sitting up and contracting.
In addition to this, the more any given exercise causes an instability in your system, whether it's through a reduced base of support because of body position or through a very unsupportive base that you're stationed on, that too will enhance the overall calorie burn that you get out of the workout.
This is a big reason why performing free weight exercises over weight machine exercises is highly advantageous and also why exercise balls and bosu balls are becoming more and more common in many people's training routines.
2. Your Rest Period Protocol
The second factor that will influence the number of calories that you burn in a given training session is how long of a rest period you're taking between the exercises that you do.
There is always going to be a trade-off between the amount of rest you take and the weight you're able to lift. The shorter that you do take your rest periods, the less weight you're likely going to be able to utilize.
Unless you're someone who is simply not pushing themselves hard enough in their workout to begin with and can easily reduce the rest without it impacting the weight, you're going to find that as you decrease the rest, you will lower the resistance.
So what you want to do is find the happy medium where you're using a rest period that is on the shorter side of things but still lifting a weight that is heavy and fatigues you.
Aim to keep the weight level at a range where you're fatigued within 8-10 reps. Then utilize rest periods of 45-60 seconds during the workout and you'll be on your way to maximizing your calorie burn from that workout without really compromising strength gains.
3. Your Sleep Status
Finally, the third big factor that will impact how many calories you burn from your workout program is your sleep status. This has more of an indirect effect however and is due to the fact that the more you're sleeping and the better quality of sleep you do get, the more energy you're going to have to be able to put forth towards your workout sessions.
This then means you'll work harder, be able to push heavier weights, lower the amount of rest you take since you'll be better recovered, and see a greater calorie burn because of it.
Also, since there will not be as much cortisol running through your system due to the fact that you are well rested, this too can enhance the results that you get from the workout in general. When large amounts of cortisol are present in the body there will be a higher risk of burning off lean muscle mass during the training session, which would then impact your long-term calorie burn potential.
Factors That Do Not Impact Calorie Burn
While all of the above factors will influence the number of calories you burn during your workout session, it's also important for us to take a quick look at a few that will not influence your calorie burn but ones that some people think often do.
1. Eating Prior To The Activity
The first factor that won't influence your calorie burn is whether or not you eat before you exercise. In fact, if anything skipping your meal before the workout session would serve to decrease the amount of calories burned during the session because chances are you won't be able to exercise as intensely.
Many people think that not eating before a workout will cause them to lose fat faster. This isn't necessarily the case. While it may get them to turn to body fat to burn faster, it's still going to be their total calorie balance at the end of the day that determines the net calorie intake.
In one study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition researchers set out to assess what the acute effects of food intake was on energy expenditure and their results illustrated just this fact.
They had men ingest a breakfast meal consisting of either 1000 calories or 3000 kcal and found that neither breakfast produce statistically significant results in terms of the total calorie expenditure of the workout session.
This illustrates that eating more food won't make you burn off more calories through exercise and neither will forgoing the meal altogether.
2. The Time Of The Day You Perform The Activity
Finally, the last factor that some people mistakenly believe may have a large influence on the number of calories they burn during a given workout session is the time of the day they are doing their workout at.
Again, this isn't the case. What will impact calorie burn is, again, how hard you're working so the more important thing here is to ensure that you're working out when you feel at your best.
If you're not an early morning person and notice a 30% drop in the amount of weight you can lift when you exercise first thing, that factor will be what causes the difference. It won't be the fact that you are working out in the morning but more the fact that your performance is different.
So be sure that you keep all of these points in mind. Getting the best overall calorie burn from your workout sessions is important if your goal is to get lean quickly because it will boost your net calorie deficit in your favor.
- Bray, M.D. et al. (1974). The acute effects of food intake on energy expenditure during cycle ergometry. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol 27, 254-259.