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Calorie expenditure from weightlifting is hard to estimate, but additionally, weightlifting imposes additional metabolic demands on the body that burn more calories.

For example: given a 300 rep per week olympic lifting program at a given average intensity of 85% at 90kg (example day shown); how many additional calories do you burn?

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In essence, I'm asking given the inputs of: intensity, weights lifted, body weight, and total reps, is there a rough formula for additional calorific expenditure?

If not, how do high level Olympic weightlifting coaches determine calorific needs?

This is not a question about the energy expenditure of specific lifts, I know that’s irrelevant here.

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  • I got a really negative response from Reddit’s fit when I asked this. Basically saying it’s not ever important and only BMR matters. Which sounds like BS to me.
    – Rol
    Jul 18, 2022 at 22:26
  • Out of curiosity, why do you want to know? The majority of calorie calculations are, at best, very rough estimates used only for guidance.
    – Dark Hippo
    Jul 19, 2022 at 8:38
  • I want to know because I'm trying to get into a weight class. Most weightloss advice is for detrained people. My calorie intake has been a little extreme <3500 a day and following the orthodoxy of eating TDEE - 500 probably isn't the best thing for me. In a typical day, I walk 10'000 steps, cycle 40mins and spend 90 minutes doing a strength routine. I've gained some weight this year, less than 4kg, but that's not that much when I eat 4000 calories regularly.
    – Rol
    Jul 19, 2022 at 9:37
  • The reason I want to know estimation formulas is because I've already disregarded the common orthodoxy on what to eat. No one on a weightloss form will suggest eating 2500 calories a day to lose weight - but in the last week, I've lost a kilo from that diet.
    – Rol
    Jul 19, 2022 at 9:40
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    @Rol I mean based on what you said, we can estimate your daily calorie expenditure to be between 3500-4000. So eating 2500 would yield about 1 KG per week for you. It's a pretty aggressive weightloss strategy but it'll work. TDEE includes your training, and if you're consistent with it then it's not special. It's just your lifestyle. TDEE = BMR + Training + NEAT + TEF. If you were to just stop training, then your TDEE would go down in relation.
    – DeeV
    Jul 19, 2022 at 12:37

1 Answer 1

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You don't calculate the increased caloric needs of weightlifters, because there's no situation in which you'd need that information.

If not, how do high level Olympic weightlifting coaches determine calorific needs?

Same as with anyone else - observe what the athlete is currently eating, and make adjustments to that based on the desired outcome. Let's say you have a lifter who you want to move up from the 73kg to 81kg class. They're currently 72kg and you want them to gain 8kg in 9 months. So you have them track their food intake for a few weeks, determining that they're currently eating about 3200 kcal/day. You get them to increase their intake to 3500 kcal/day, and observe from there how their bodyweight changes.

At no point in this process does the amount of energy they're burning during training (measured separately to their total daily energy expenditure) need to be known.

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  • Right. That’s the practical way of doing things.
    – Rol
    Jul 19, 2022 at 6:20
  • But are you seriously telling me we have no idea how much energy is expended weight training?
    – Rol
    Jul 19, 2022 at 6:21
  • If you have the data of what Olympic athletes are eating and their diets, surely there’s enough data to make a rough calculation of their energy expenditure w.r.t work, weight, intensity, and body weight.
    – Rol
    Jul 19, 2022 at 6:23

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