How many calories do you burn when doing pull ups?

Pull ups are an effective upper body exercise that work multiple muscle groups at once. They engage the lats, biceps, forearms, shoulders, and core. This makes pull ups an efficient calorie-burning exercise. The number of calories burned during pull ups depends on several factors.

Calories burned per pull up

On average, a 155 pound person will burn around 1.3 calories per pull up. Heavier individuals burn more calories and lighter individuals burn fewer calories. Here is a rough estimate for calories burned per pull up based on body weight:

Body Weight Calories Burned Per Pull Up
100 lbs 0.8 calories
125 lbs 1.0 calories
155 lbs 1.3 calories
185 lbs 1.5 calories
225 lbs 1.8 calories

As you can see, heavier individuals burn more calories per pull up performed. But other factors also impact calorie burn such as intensity.

Exercise Intensity

The intensity of your pull up exercise also affects how many calories are burned. Pull ups can either be done at a slower, more controlled tempo or a faster, more explosive tempo. Explosive pull ups where you raise your body quickly will burn more calories than slow, controlled pull ups.

One study showed that fast explosive pull ups burned 9.4 calories per minute compared to slow pull ups which burned 7.1 calories per minute. So the faster you perform your pull ups, the more calories you will burn.

Number of Reps

The number of pull up reps you perform will also impact your calorie burn. Naturally, doing more reps will lead to burning more calories. Here is an estimate of how many calories could be burned for different rep ranges based on a 155 pound person:

Pull Up Reps Calories Burned
10 reps 13 calories
20 reps 26 calories
30 reps 39 calories
40 reps 52 calories
50 reps 65 calories

So performing higher rep sets of pull ups will burn more calories during your workout. Sets of 10-20 reps are common.

Number of Sets

In addition to rep range, the number of sets you perform will influence calorie burn. If you do 5 sets of 10 pull ups, you’ll burn more calories than if you just do 1 set of 10 reps. Here is an example calculation:

1 set of 10 pull ups = 13 calories burned
3 sets of 10 pull ups = 39 calories burned

5 sets of 10 pull ups = 65 calories burned

Performing higher number of sets allows you to burn more calories during your pull up routine. 3-5 sets are commonly recommended.

Rest Periods

The length of rest periods between sets also impacts calorie burn. Shorter rest periods of 60-90 seconds will keep your heart rate elevated compared to longer rest periods of 2-3 minutes. Maintaining an elevated heart rate during your workout will enable you to burn more calories.

Workout Duration

Your total workout duration performing pull ups also affects the number of calories burned. Spending 20-30 minutes doing pull ups will burn more calories than only doing a few minutes of exercise. To maximize calorie burn, aim for pull up workouts lasting at least 20-30 minutes.

Pull Up Bars Used

The type of pull up bar used can also influence calorie burn. Pull ups done on a suspension trainer like TRX suspension straps burn more calories than standard pull ups. This is because suspension trainers engage your core and stabilize muscles more to balance your body.

One study showed that suspension trainer pull ups burned 9% more calories compared to standard pull ups. So using special bars rather than standard pull up bars can increase the metabolic requirements.

Grip and Hand Position

Changing your grip or hand position during pull ups also recruits different muscles which impacts calories burned. Here are some options:

  • Wide overhand grip – Works back muscles more
  • Shoulder width overhand grip – Balances between back and biceps
  • Narrow underhand grip – Works biceps more
  • Mixed grip – One hand overhand, one hand underhand

Varying your grip activates different muscle groups which can lead to greater calorie burn by challenging your body in new ways.

Pull Up Bars Used

Here is a summary of how many calories may be burned during a pull up workout based on different factors:

Workout Factors Calorie Burn Estimate
155 lb person doing 3 x 10 pull ups 39 calories
155 lb person doing 3 x 10 fast explosive pull ups 50 calories
155 lb person doing 5 x 10 pull ups 65 calories
185 lb person doing 4 x 10 pull ups 60 calories
125 lb person doing 3 x 10 pull ups 30 calories

As shown, the number of calories burned doing pull ups can range quite a bit based on your body weight, intensity, number of reps and sets performed. Aim for higher volume, explosive pull ups using different grips and bars to maximize calorie burn.

Benefits of Pull Ups for Fat Loss

Beyond just calories burned during exercise, pull ups also provide additional benefits for fat loss:

  • Increase metabolic rate – More muscle burns more calories all day
  • Boost afterburn – Calories burned after exercise is done
  • Improve insulin sensitivity – Helps control appetite and cravings
  • Target back and arm fat – Tone and define your upper body

So adding pull ups to your routine can help boost fat burning results beyond just the workout itself.

Sample Pull Up Workouts

Here are two sample pull up workouts to burn calories:

Beginner Workout

  • 5 minute warm up – Light cardio and dynamic stretches
  • 3 sets of 6-8 pull ups – Add negatives to reach rep target
  • 2 sets of 30-45 second deadhangs – Hold at top to build grip strength
  • 5 minute cooldown – Light cardio and static stretching

Intermediate/Advanced Workout

  • 5 minute warm up – Light cardio and dynamic stretches
  • 4 sets of max rep pull ups – Explosive tempo, use different grips
  • 3 sets of 12-15 bodyweight rows
  • 5 minute cooldown – Light cardio and static stretching

Start with easier progressions if needed and gradually build up your strength and volume over time.

Nutrition Tips

To maximize fat loss from your pull up training:

  • Eat in a calorie deficit to lose weight
  • Consume adequate protein – 0.5-1g per pound of bodyweight
  • Eat complex carbs to fuel workouts
  • Consume healthy fats for hormonal balance
  • Stay hydrated by drinking 2-3 liters of water daily

Proper nutrition provides your body with the fuel and recovery it needs to get the most out of your pull up workouts.


Pull ups are an effective calorie-burning exercise that also provide additional fat loss benefits. By training with higher reps, sets, intensity and duration, you can maximize the calories burned during your pull up workout. Combine your training with proper nutrition to enhance your body’s ability to shed unwanted fat.

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