Stronglifts Workout Calories & Apple Health

Stronglifts estimates how many calories your workout burns, and sends this data to Apple Health.

You can see how many calories you burned in Apple Health. Other apps that sync with Apple Health can pull our calorie data. For example: if you enable Apple Health in Stronglifts and MyfitnessPal, the calories burned with your Stronglifts workouts will automatically be sent to MyfitnessPal. This saves you from having to enter it manually.

To enable this feature please follow these steps...

  1. Open Stronglifts
  2. Go to Settings > Apple Health
  3. Tap Enable
  4. Grant all the permissions

Workout calories estimated by Stronglifts

Stronglifts sends two types of calorie estimations to Apple Health:

  • Active Calories
  • Total Calories

Your active calories are the estimated calories you burn during your workout.

Your total calories are the sum of your active and resting calories. Your resting calories are the calories you burn at rest. This is your basal metabolic rate or BMR - the calories burned for bodily functions like breathing, digestion, heart function, etc. Your total calories include both the calories you burn during your workout and at rest. This value is thus higher than for active calories alone.

Stronglifts Calorie FAQ

How does Stronglifts estimate calories burned?

Our formula for estimating calories burned is based on this study.

In short, lifting weights burns about 5-6kcal/min or ~300kcal/hour (the equivalent of brisk walking).

Doesn't lifting weights burn more calories?

Lifting weights doesn't burn as many calories per minute as activities like running or cycling. This is because you spend most of your time resting between sets. If you want to burn a lot of calories quickly, doing cardio exercises like running or swimming is more effective.

However, the primary goal of lifting weights is not to burn calories but to get stronger and build muscle. Having more muscle increases how many calories you burn when not exercising. This extra muscle mass requires more energy to maintain. Repairing them post-workout burns calories. Studies found that regular resistance training can increase your daily energy expenditure by 100 calories or more (source). So, even though you might not burn that many calories while lifting weights, it helps you burn more calories overall.

Lifting weights also strengthens your muscles, bones, and joints in ways that cardio doesn't. Just looking at how many calories you burn during a workout doesn't show all the benefits of lifting weights. The main metrics we recommend looking at are 1) consistency (getting 2-3 workouts done each week) 2) increasing your strength (which you can track in the progress graphs inside Stronglifts). Consistently doing your workouts and trying to add weight over time will increase your strength, muscle mass, and bone density. This will improve your overall health.

Also if your goal is to lose a lot of weight, lifting weights and/or cardio alone isn't effective unless you can do hours of it. See:

This study found that if you want to lose a lot of weight, you need a calorie restriction - eating less using some type of restraint. Lifting and cardio is great. But unless you can do hours of it to burn a ton of calories, it won't be enough. Most of us can't do hours of exercise because we're busy with work, family, etc. And so we need to improve our diet if we want to lose a lot of weight.

Why does Apple Watch report higher calories than Stronglifts?

The Apple Watch uses a different method to estimate the calories burned during your workout. Currently, Apple doesn't let us control how the watch estimates calories for Stronglifts workouts. If you alternate between logging workouts with your watch and phone, you'll get different calorie estimations for similar workouts.

Please note that the Apple Watch tends to overestimate how many calories your workout burns. Here's a quote from a study by Hajj-Boutros et al...

"The Apple Watch 6, Polar Vantage V and Fitbit Sense showed poor accuracy for energy expenditure during 5 different physical activities.... proceed with caution on the clinical utility of energy expenditure of these devices during the implementation of an exercise training or nutritional programme."

When you log your Stronglifts workouts using just your iPhone, without an Apple Watch connected, the estimated calories burned are calculated using our algorithm. These estimates will be slightly lower than those provided by the Apple Watch.

Why does Apple Health show 0 calories for Stronglifts workouts?

Stronglifts needs your body weight to estimate how many calories you burn. If you didn't enter your body weight in the app then we can't calculate your calories.

Stronglifts edit bodyweight issue screen

You can enter your body weight in Apple Health like this...

  1. Open the Health app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on your profile picture in the top right corner.
  3. Scroll down and select "Body Measurements."
  4. Tap "Weight."
  5. Tap "Add Data Point" at the bottom.
  6. Enter your weight and the date you want to track.
  7. Tap "Add" in the top right corner.

After this log your workout with Stronglifts, and the calories will be correctly estimated.