Mindset Monday – Exercise isn’t about the calories

Welcome to a new series for 2021!

Mindset Monday will go out on the first Monday of each month to give you some food for thought when it comes to how you approach training and nutrition to help you get the best out of your efforts, and get the best results possible.

This month I’m going to kick things off with how you look at your workouts and training sessions.

We often look at our sessions in the gym or at home as being successful if we burn X calories, or by how much we sweat or how sore we are after. But in reailty, these are terrible indicators fo whether or not our sessions were actually good or not.

Soreness is just an indicator that we either haven’t trained in a while or the exercises we have done are new to us.

Sweat is how we regulate temperature. I can make you sweat easily enough by turning up the temp or by making you do lots of pointless crap throughout the session to ensure you don’t stop for too long.

And if we are honest, training is pretty bad at burning calories. Regardless of what your smartwatch tells you.

Using typical values (METs – Metabolic Equivalents to estimate calories burned) a 75kg individual would likely see these calorie outputs:

Strength training for 1 hour – 75×5 = 375 kcals burned,

High intensity cardio (circuit training) for 20 mins – 75x8x0.33 = 198 kcals

Low intensity cardio (leisurely cycling)  for 1 hour – 75×4 = 300 kcals

So, it’s fairly clear that from a calorie burn standpoint, exercise is a bit meh.

So what’s the point then?

Exercise does so much for you. I could write a long and eloquent section here about the wonderful things that exercise does for you, detailing the positive physiological changes and mental/cognitive benefits you get. But I’m about as eloquent as a brick through a window and it’s easier to list stuff.

  • increased strength,
  • improved fitness
  • improved physical skill
  • more muscle mass
  • improved health,
  • better joint health
  • reduced risk of injury
  • lower body fat %
  • Improved immune system
  • increased metabolism via increased lean mass
  • better quality of life as you age,
  • improved focus
  • improved self confidence
  • increased self esteem
  • increased physical and mental resiliency
  • looking great naked

So, there you go. A long, but not exhaustive list of all the benefits that come with consistent exercise, particularly when partnered with the aim of improving your performance (either by lifting more weight for the same reps, more reps with the same load, harder exercise variations etc).

So forget about the calories, focus on the performance, and you’ll get the result you want.

Have a great day,



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