Leg presses do not only feel hard. They also use up energy. Find out how many calories leg presses burn.
Before going into the short-term workout estimations, it is important that a lot of the calorie-burning from the leg press machine comes from the muscle mass you build.
However, these secondary effects are harder to put into rough estimations.
So for now, you will have to do with the estimation that the average burns around 89 – 152+ calories per 15 minutes of doing leg presses at a vigorous effort.
And even these short-term estimations are very rough.
They don’t even take the weight you leg press into account which will make a big difference.
In this article, you will also find the details that influence the calories burned with leg presses a lot, more detailed estimations, and whether you can lose weight with this move.
Estimations calories burned leg press
In some cases like estimating the calories burned with kettlebell swings, there are studies that measure oxygen consumption for different people and weights.
Unfortunately, I did not find any studies like this on leg presses. That means I will have to use more general intensity estimations for weight lifting.
Some cheat sheets just note you can burn between 3.5-7 calories per minute of weight training exercises like leg presses (1).
Luckily, you can also use METs to get somewhat more specific estimations too.
By using this number which indicates the intensity of a workout in the formula below, you can get a very rough idea of the calories you burn with leg presses.
Formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
By now you should get the idea that this will be far from perfect. The formula does not even include how much weight you leg press.
Two MET estimations for resistance training exercises like leg presses are 5 at “slow/explosive effort” to 6 at vigorous effort (2).
You can find the results of using the vigorous MET in the first table below and an intensity comparison table after that.
Calories burned with leg presses
While you do typically time your lifting workouts in amounts of reps, the table below uses minutes to show how many calories you burn.
|1 Minute||5 Minutes||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||6 calories||30 calories||89 calories||177 calories||354 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||7 calories||37 calories||110 calories||220 calories||439 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||9 calories||44 calories||131 calories||262 calories||524 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||10 calories||51 calories||152 calories||305 calories||610 calories|
Calories burned with slow vs vigorous effort
In the chart below, you can find rough estimations of the calories burned comparison of doing leg presses slowly or vigorously for 15 minutes.
Again, these numbers are definitely not ideal. Reality will likely look a lot different.
|Leg Press Effort|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||74 calories||89 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||92 calories||110 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||109 calories||131 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||127 calories||152 calories|
Big influences on calories burned with leg presses
At this point, it should be clear that estimating how many calories an exercise like leg presses burns is very hard to do.
There are just so many details that influence the actual result but are hard to measure.
At the same time, knowing about some of the biggest influences on the number of calories you burn can still improve your estimations.
The examples below can also help you make your leg press workouts more effective in this area:
- Weight used: Leg presses involve pushing up a weighted platform. Pushing up the heavier weights will require more energy from your body.
- Body weight: Your body needs to use a certain number of calories to stay alive. While this does not apply the most to leg presses, heavier people will still tend to burn more energy.
- Body composition: Even if you weigh the same as someone else, having more muscle mass could make it so you burn more calories.
- Repetition speed: How quickly you do each leg press will influence the number of calories you burn. Faster repetitions tend to burn more energy per minute (but there is definitely a point of overdoing this).
Hidden calorie burning from leg presses
Until now, I mostly talked about the clearer short-term calorie burning effects of leg presses.
However, there are also a few more hidden details that influence your total fat loss results.
As the first example, doing leg presses with the right weights, reps, and sets will help you build muscle.
This extra muscle mass helps you burn more calories throughout the day. Including during any other workouts you do.
At the same time, the extra muscle mass increases from doing leg presses and the calorie-burning this involves are hard to predict.
Secondly, intense workout routines like lifting weights often cause an afterburn effect where you burn more calories even after you stop working out.
This will typically not last more than 24 hours but the extra results do add up.
Lastly, exercising more and building muscle involves a variety of hormonal changes that can benefit your metabolism.
So while the estimations above may not look/be that impressive, your actual total calorie-burning results tend to be a lot better.
How to burn more calories with leg presses
Everything above also means you can burn more calories with leg presses by approaching your workouts in smarter ways.
The main thing to keep in mind is that you want to do leg presses in a way that is optimal for building muscle mass.
As a general guideline, you want to do about 6-10 leg press repetitions for 3-6 sets with a weight you can barely lift in these amounts.
After that, you want to give your leg press muscles enough time and nutrition to repair and grow.
Doing leg day every day is generally not the way to go. Even something like squatting 3 times a week is often not ideal.
Besides that, building more muscle in other areas is often the second best way to burn more calories with leg presses.
Doing leg presses faster is typically not recommended due to the injury risk and suboptimal gains involved.
Can you lose weight from leg presses?
Any exercise that burns more calories, including leg presses, can help you lose weight.
At the same time, you still want to keep in mind that your other lifestyle habits need to be good enough too.
You also want to keep in mind that fat loss from leg presses does not always mean weight loss since you gain muscle mass.
These things aside, a rough example of the short term results of leg press workouts can still be helpful.
Two 15-minute leg press sessions a week would help a 155-pound (70 kg) person burn around 220 calories or about 0.06 pounds (0.03 kg) of body weight a week.
This small amount should make it clear that leg presses mostly offer weight loss effects through the extra muscle they build.
Muscles worked with leg presses
Leg presses mainly work muscles like your quadriceps (front thighs), calves, glutes (butt), and hamstrings (back thighs).
Since these are very big muscle groups, there is also a lot of potential for muscle mass gains and extra calorie burning.
Should you do leg presses to burn calories?
Leg presses are a good exercise for burning a lot of calories in the long term due to all the extra muscle mass you can grow.
This extra muscle mass will help you burn more calories 24/7. Even during any other workouts you do.
At the same time, it is also worth noting that leg presses are not the best exercise when it comes to burning a lot of calories in the short term.
For this goal, intense cardiovascular workouts tend to be better.
For both types of workouts you also want to keep in mind that your other lifestyle habits like your diet will influence your weight loss results a lot.
Is the leg press good for fat loss?
The leg press is relatively good for long term fat loss due to all the extra muscle mass you build.
Your fat loss may not look that impressive after one leg press workout but in the long term, this extra muscle mass burns a lot of calories.