How Many Calories Does CrossFit REALLY Burn?

If you’ve ever wondered how many calories you actually burn from doing CrossFit, you’re not alone. Experts recently weighed in to determine how many calories you might be burning with this high intensity workout.

The fact that CrossFit burns calories is not a surprise. The intensity of the exercise makes calorie burning a no brainer, but the varied exercise routines can make calculating caloric burn a challenge. ACE estimates men burn as many as 18 calories per rep while women typically burn up to 15.  

There are nearly 10 million CrossFit participants around the globe, and over half of them are women. While CrossFitters laud the benefits of the program, research backs this up. ACE enlisted the help of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse to investigate two workouts of the day to see how the short but high intensity workouts measure up when it comes to caloric impact.  

They tested sixteen participants using two workouts — one known as Donkey Kong and the other labeled Fran –and included a warm-up and cool-down as a part of the measure. Each WOD involves 21 reps followed by 14 and concluding with nine. Donkey Kong combines burpees, kettlebell swings, box jumps, and lunges while Fran uses only barbell thrusting and pull-ups. 

Researchers found that the calorie consumption averaged 12.3 calories per rep for women. The time to perform the tasks varied, but on average, women finished the Donkey Kong workout in around nine minutes, 8 seconds and burned 117.2 calories while Fran only took five minutes and 52 seconds and burned a total of 63.9 calories on average. 

In both rounds, the subjects demonstrated up to 90 percent of the recommended heart rate (HRmax). They further found that participants averaged 80% of VOx max, which is related to cardio health and overall fitness. 

CrossFit, like many other high intensity exercise programs, offers compelling benefits from improving oxygen intake to burning calories. While this efficient practice has many advantages, leading specialist John Pocari, PhD, cautions that CrossFit may not be for everyone. If you decide to give it a try, it’s recommended to pay special attention to posture and form in order to prevent injury. Before beginning any new exercise, it’s important to consult with your primary care physician. Practiced safely, CrossFit offers a safe and viable way to build and maintain a strong and healthy physique.