Leg raises are a well-known exercise that requires a bit more effort than sitting still. In turn, this helps you burn more calories.
There are different exercises with the name leg raises. This article is about hanging and lying leg raises. These are mainly ab and hip flexor exercises.
For some exercises, there are studies that look at the number of calories burned for that specific movement. In the case of leg raises, it is required to rely on more general bodyweight exercise estimations.
The average person can expect to burn around 41 – 71+ calories per 15 minutes of doing light calisthenics exercises like leg raises. This number will vary from individual to individual due to a variety of factors.
For example, a 125-pound (56 kg) individual will burn around 41 calories while doing leg raises for 15 minutes. On the other hand, a 215-pound (97 kg) individual will burn around 71 calories while doing leg raises for 15 minutes at the same intensity.
This is a nice addition but to burn a lot of calories leg raises are not the best option.
This article will also show you a more detailed chart that takes multiple factors into account, how many calories certain amounts of leg raises burn, how to burn more calories with leg raises, and more.
Biggest influences on calories burned
A fact that many people find annoying is that the number of calories you burn while doing something like leg raises is hard to predict and measure correctly.
This fact can make things like weight loss feel like a guessing game when you are trying to balance these numbers with the calories in food.
Even so, good estimations for the number of calories burned with leg raises can be a helpful starting point. By taking a few important factors into account you can make your estimations more accurate.
Some of the biggest factors that influence how many calories you burn while doing leg raises include:
- Weight: To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more you weigh, the more energy your body needs to fuel its movements.
- Body composition: Body composition is how much of your body weight is made up of different tissue. Two people can weigh the same but for one individual most of the weight can come from fat while the second individual has a lot of muscle. The reason that is important is that the same weight of muscle requires more energy than that weight in fat.
- Intensity: If you’re looking at calories burned per minute of leg raises this can vary a lot by moving your body at a fast vs slow speed. That being said, if you are trying to work your ab muscles make sure you give priority to using the right technique instead of speed.
- Extra weights: You can wear ankle weights or clamp a weight between your legs when doing leg raises. To move these extra weights your body will have to use more energy.
Hidden calorie burning from leg raises
There are many other aspects that make it even harder to put how many calories you burn with leg raises into an exact number. This includes the fact that the calorie-burning effects of leg raises are not limited to during the workout.
As mentioned, how much you weigh plays a relatively big role in how many calories you burn. This doesn’t just apply to your workout, this is also the case during everyday activities.
One of the benefits of leg raises is that they can help you build a bit of muscle mass. This amount of muscle mass helps you burn more calories day in, day out.
It is however extremely hard to put this amount into a number since this muscle mass will be so different from person to person, what weight you use, your exact workout program, what you eat, etc.
Something to keep in mind is that your ab and hip flexor muscles are not that big. That means the extra number of calories they burn will not even come close compared to for example your glute muscles.
Estimations calories burned leg raises
For some popular exercises, there are sometimes studies that investigate exactly how many calories they burn. Unfortunately, this is not the case for leg raises. That means to estimate this number for leg raises, more general bodyweight exercise estimations will be used.
The centers for disease control and prevention simplifies the number of calories burned with light calisthenics exercise into between 3.5 – 7 calories per minute and vigorous effort calisthenics exercises more than 7 calories per minute (1).
In reality, there are tools to make more precise estimations. To calculate calories burned during certain exercises more specifically you can use a formula with MET values.
A MET value is an exercise-specific value to indicate how intense a specific type of workout is. This number represents how many times more intense the activity is compared to sitting still.
You can use this in the following formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
Estimations for METs while doing bodyweight exercises like leg raises depend on the intensity and vary from 2.8 at light effort to 8 at vigorous effort (2). Leg raises are definitely on the lighter side even if you use extra weights.
The first table below will show the calories burned with leg raises for different weights and time intervals. After that, you can find a table showing how many calories different amounts of leg raises burn.
Additionally, to put these estimations into perspective, 100 grams of boiled potatoes contains about 87 calories (3).
Calories burned with leg raises
One of the most convenient ways to see how many calories you burned while doing leg raises is by looking at how much time you spent doing it.
|1 Minute||5 Minutes||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||3 calories||14 calories||41 calories||83 calories||165 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||3 calories||17 calories||51 calories||103 calories||205 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||4 calories||20 calories||61 calories||122 calories||245 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||5 calories||24 calories||71 calories||142 calories||284 calories|
Calories burned with amounts of leg raises
It is also possible that you have a specific amount of leg raises you want to do. Below you can find estimations for how many calories these burn.
These estimations are for a speed of about 14 lying leg raises with a focus on ab muscles per minute.
|# Of Leg Raises |
|1 Leg Raise||10 Leg Raises||20 Leg Raises||50 Leg Raises||100 Leg Raises|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||0.20 calories||2.0 calories||3.9 calories||10 calories||19.7 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||0.24 calories||2.4 calories||4.9 calories||12.2 calories||24.4 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||0.29 calories||2.9 calories||5.8 calories||14.6 calories||29.1 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||0.34 calories||3.4 calories||6.8 calories||16.9 calories||33.9 calories|
How to burn more calories with leg raises
How many calories you burn with leg raises is certainly not something set in stone. There are a few ways you can increase this amount per time interval.
The challenge for most people is fitting in activities in their busy schedules. They want to burn as many calories in the least amount of time, which means burning more calories per minute of leg raises.
Leg raises are mainly done to grow and strengthen ab and hip flexor muscles. In theory, you could do leg raises faster to burn more calories. In practice, this will likely interfere with technique and in turn muscle growth.
Besides that, to burn more calories in the long term, you want to do the right extra weights and repetitions for building muscle.
As a general guideline, you want to do about 7-10 repetitions for 3-6 sets with a weight that is barely light enough to complete these amounts.
You can do weighted leg raises by wearing ankle weights or clamping a weight between your legs.
Make sure you give your ab and hip flexor muscles enough time to repair and grow. Doing more leg raises is not always beneficial for muscle growth and in turn, burning calories.
Additionally, you can do other exercises besides leg raises to build extra muscle mass in other areas.
All of this extra muscle mass will increase your body weight in a healthy way and in turn, help you burn more calories.
Can you lose weight from leg raises?
Leg raises are an exercise that can help you burn a few extra calories. In combination with good habits in other lifestyle areas, this can then lead to weight loss.
One pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg +-8000 calories). How long it takes to see weight loss results from leg raises will also depend on the number of calories in your diet.
One person might eat more than the other. This might make it so they need to exercise longer or more intensely to see the same weight loss results. You can even lose weight without exercising so there are many factors that influence it.
10 sessions of 15 minutes of leg raises can help you burn an extra 510 calories which are about 0.15 pounds of body fat. 30 sessions, 1530 calories (= +- 0.44 pounds of body fat), and so on…
Leg raises are not that good for weight loss but they do help a small amount.
Muscles worked with leg raises
Leg raises mainly work muscles like your abs and hip flexors. This exercise is great to grow and strengthen these muscles. Especially if you choose the right weights, number of sets, and number of repetitions.
One thing that is unfortunate about leg raises when it comes to burning calories is that your abs and hip flexors are relatively small muscles. In turn, this limits the amount of calorie-burning potential.
Even so, make sure you give your body enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow your muscles after an intense leg raise session.
Should you do leg raises to burn calories?
As you can see, leg raises can be described as a light calisthenics exercise that can burn a few extra calories. That being said, there are plenty of other activities that can help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.
You should likely see the number of calories burned with leg raises as a nice bonus of your ab workout. Once you are done with this exercise you can turn to other options to really start seeing results.
If calorie burning is your main goal and you regularly do leg raises, implementing some exercises in your schedule specifically for building muscle can be helpful.
The extra muscle mass will help you burn more calories day in, day out, including during your leg raise sessions.
Also keep in mind that the things you eat stay important no matter what movement routine you’re following. It’s hard to out-exercise a bad diet.