Step-ups are not just good for working your muscles. Find out how many calories step-ups burn and how to get more results in this area.
Something to note first is that this article is about the step-up exercise where you step on something relatively high like a plyo box.
The number of calories burned with step aerobics where you step on a smaller stepper in a more cardiovascular-focused way will be different.
With that in mind, the average person can expect to burn around 89 – 152+ calories per 15 minutes of doing weighted step-ups.
These are of course very rough estimations and do not even take the weight you are using into account. For this and other reasons, your actual results will likely vary a lot.
Additionally, a lot of the calorie-burning potential from weighted step-ups happens after the actual workout because of things like increased muscle mass.
This makes the exact quantities of calories burned even harder to estimate.
Big influences on calories burned with step-ups
An unfortunate fact is that perfectly estimating how many calories you burn with step-ups is hard to do. This is another reason why methods like calories in calories out are not great for losing weight.
That being said, making your estimations even somewhat more accurate can still give you a better idea of what to expect from step-ups in this area.
You can do this by learning what factors influence the number of calories burned with step-ups a lot. These factors can also help you get more out of your workouts.
With that in mind, a few of these details that play a role in how many calories you burn while doing step-ups are:
- Body weight: Throughout the day your body burns calories to stay alive and move. Heavier people tend to burn more calories during these things and step-ups.
- Weight used in step-ups: It is somewhat typical to do step-ups with weights. Whether you do this and with how much weight will influence your results.
- Body composition: Two people can weigh the same but have different amounts of muscle mass. This matters in step-ups because an amount of muscle mass generally burns more calories than the same weight in body fat.
- Step-up repetition speed: You can do your step-ups at different speeds. While it may not be optimal in the bigger picture, faster step-ups do tend to burn more calories per minute during the workout.
Hidden calorie burning from step-ups
Another detail that makes the calories you burn thanks to your step-up workouts more confusing is that your results do not only happen during the exercise session.
One of the benefits of step-ups is that they can help you build a lot of muscle mass. Especially considering your legs have some of the biggest muscle groups.
This extra muscle mass adds healthy weight which increases how many calories you burn in each minute of the day.
Doing intense step-up workouts can also cause something called afterburn.
The effects of this are shorter (typically not more than 72 hours) but this is another reason why you can burn more calories after your step-up sessions.
These things are worth mentioning because the calorie-burning estimations only apply to during the workout.
In the case of step-ups, this leaves out a lot of the calorie-burning results you can get from this exercise.
Estimations calories burned with step-ups
There is a cheat sheet from the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention that notes you can burn between 3.5 to 7 calories with weight training (1).
It is also possible to get more precise estimations for different body weights and time intervals by using MET values. These are numbers that estimate how intense certain activities are.
You can use the MET for step-ups (or other workouts) in the formula below to get rough calorie-burning estimations.
Formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
Unfortunately, there are no MET estimations for the step-up exercise specifically. That being said, there are MET estimations for vigorous resistance training and vigorous effort calisthenics (2).
These METs are far from perfect and the formula is definitely not complete but these things do help you get some idea of the number of calories burned with step-ups.
In the first table below, you can find the results of using the MET for vigorous resistance training aka what weighted step-ups can look like.
After that, you can find a comparison between the METs and calories burned for bodyweight and weighted step-ups. Lastly, there are calorie-burning estimations for different amounts of step-ups.
Calories burned with step-ups
While you typically do step-ups for certain amounts of repetitions, you can also look at how many minutes you do them to get an idea of the number of calories you burn.
Since the estimations below are for vigorous weight lifting you can assume that you are doing weighted step-ups.
In reality, your results will depend a lot on your exact weight and how fast you do your repetitions.
|1 Minute||5 Minutes||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|6 calories||30 calories||89 calories||177 calories||354 calories|
|7 calories||37 calories||110 calories||220 calories||439 calories|
|9 calories||44 calories||131 calories||262 calories||524 calories|
|10 calories||51 calories||152 calories||305 calories||610 calories|
Calories burned with different step-up types
You can also keep doing bodyweight step-ups and pick up the pace. In the table below you can find how a vigorous calisthenics exercise like this compared to controlled weighted step-ups in terms of calorie burning.
The numbers below will be for doing each of the step-up types for 15 minutes. Keep in mind that you will likely be able to do the bodyweight step-ups for more minutes at a time.
|Weighted Step-ups||Bodyweight Step-ups|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||89 calories||118 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||110 calories||146 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||131 calories||175 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||152 calories||203 calories|
Calories burned with different box step-up amounts
Some people also like to know how many calories they burn per amount of box step-ups.
Most people who care about this information mean the bodyweight box step-ups so the estimations below again use the vigorous calisthenics MET.
Additionally, the table assumes you do about 20 box step-ups per minute.
|# Box Step-ups|
|4 calories||20 calories||39 calories||197 calories||394 calories|
|5 calories||24 calories||49 calories||244 calories||488 calories|
|6 calories||29 calories||58 calories||291 calories||583 calories|
|7 calories||34 calories||68 calories||339 calories||677 calories|
How to burn more calories with step-ups
By now you likely understand that you can influence how many calories you burn with step-ups to nice extents.
Most of the calorie-burning effects of weighted step-ups come from the amount of muscle mass you are able to build.
That means to burn more calories with weighted step-ups you want to use weights and repetitions for this goal.
As a general guideline, you want to do about 6-15 step-ups for 3-6 sets with a weight that is barely light enough to complete these amounts.
Make sure you give the muscles worked during step-ups enough time to repair and grow. Doing more step-ups is not always beneficial for muscle growth and in turn, burning calories.
Additionally, you can do other exercises besides step-ups 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.
How long does it take to see results from step-ups?
You likely also want to know what fat loss results you can expect from all these calories you burn with step-ups.
Something important to mind is that while step-ups can help weight loss, there are still other conditions before you get this result.
More specifically, your habits in areas like your diet still need to be good enough too.
That aside, let’s assume you hit a weight loss plateau and the only change you make is doing more step-ups.
In that case, a 155-pound (70 kg) person would burn an extra 330 calories or about 0.09 pounds (0.04 kg) of body fat during three 15-minute sessions of weighted step-ups a week.
After four weeks of this step-up routine, the same person would have burned an extra 1320 calories or about 0.38 pounds (0.17 kg) of body fat during the workouts.
Something important to note is that these amounts do not include the results from building muscle mass or afterburn. In reality, this person will likely lose more weight.
Are step-ups good for burning calories?
At first sight, step-ups may not look that good for burning calories because the estimations are for during the workouts.
However, because step-ups can help you build nice amounts of muscle mass and can cause a lot of afterburn, they can actually be good for burning calories.
Adding this exercise or step-up alternatives to your workout plan together with resistance training exercises for other muscles and cardiovascular workouts can offer a lot of calorie-burning results.