Say I am following a workout routine with approximately 20high intensity exercises (some probably what you define as HIIT and some a bit lower intensity, but still decently high intensity), lasting for about 1 minute each. There is a video of people performing these exercises which takes 30 minutes in total, including some mini breaks here and there.

My question is: does it affect my kcal burn if I add more breaks in between exercises, so the entire series takes maybe 45-50 minutes rather than the original 30? (Will still do all the exercises in full, just add longer breaks in between).

Would doing the 30 minutes of exercises + a 15 min break in the end, equal the same amount of kcal burn as doing the entire thing in 45 min where the breaks are in between exercises?

(The 15 min break was just to get to the same amount of time so that doesn’t skew the answer because the body will be burning some kcal every single minute of the day)

My thought is that pushing your body continuously may raise your heart rate even further resulting in a better workout; but on the other hand, adding a little longer breaks will keep the heart rate up for a longer period of time (unless breaks are long enough to get the heart rate completely down?)


Strictly from a caloric expenditure point of view, you will burn roughly the same amount of calories in 30 minutes as you would in 45 minutes if the amount of work performed is equal.

In a more complex, real-world example, working out for 30 minutes straight may actually burn slightly less calories overall because you will perform less work as you get more tired. The added rest could help you recover a little which will help you perform stronger in the last half of the workout thus creating more work overall.

Having said that, the amount of calories actually burned in any 30-45 minute workout is actually really small (sorry. It is unfortunate). So it isn't something you should concern yourself over. Do the style of workout that you feel is best. Some people love just pushing themselves to the limit in a short amount of time. It is very effective and efficient for things other than calorie burn. Other people are more motivated with some rest in the middle.

  • Regarding the calories burned I have recently realized how little it actually is. How about the overall fitness form eg endurance, would that also equal out to the same, or would you gain more from one over the other? – ssn Sep 9 '19 at 4:13
  • The primary thing that determines calorie burned is the amount of work is performed. I.E, how much mass is moved and how fast. A runner moves his or herself x amount of distance in y amount of time. A weightlifter moves weight x amount of distance in y amount of time. Endurance style workouts are just the same work stretched out over a longer period of time. – DeeV Sep 9 '19 at 17:07
  • There is also the concept of "Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption" or EPOC. This is basically a slight increase in metabolism after a workout which lasts about a day or two. The increase is a result of recovery. The longer one has to recover, the higher the EPOC. Short, intense, HIIT style workouts have a higher EPOC than long, slow endurance style workouts. – DeeV Sep 9 '19 at 17:09
  • There are other benefits of HIIT style workouts besides calorie burn, so it's not bad to do them. They are also really efficient compared to other styles of workouts. That's all outside the scope of the question. – DeeV Sep 9 '19 at 17:11

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