How Many Calories Do Pull Ups Burn

Many people are not sure about the number of calories that are expended in simple bodyweight exercises such as pull ups, squats, push-ups, sit-ups, calf raises, dips, lunges, planks and many more. If a person is looking for a bodyweight exercise that would work on the lats, biceps, traps, delts, pecs, and expend calories then pull ups are something that could be added to one’s workout plan. People who are doing pull ups to burn calories must know that it is a strength training activity rather than a cardiovascular activity. The rate at which a person expends calories during pull ups is determined by the factors listed below. 

Factors affecting caloric expenditure

Whether one wants to burn fat or build muscle through pull ups, one must know about the different parameters that determine the rate at which calories are expended during pull ups. Understanding these factors properly would help a person maximize the benefits out of pull ups. It would also help in making a better workout plan that would focus on the specific goals of the individual.


The metabolic rate of individuals slows down with age. The muscle percentage of a person drops with age due to natural age-related conditions such as sarcopenia. As one gets older, the fat percentage increases as a result of decreased muscle percentage, which means that they burn lesser calories.


The number of calories expended when 100 pull ups are done in five minutes will not be the same when compared with 100 pull ups done in an hour. Doing more repetitions in a shorter duration of time would burn more calories. Furthermore, slow pull ups also increase intensity.


Men in general burn more calories when compared with women due to higher levels of testosterone hormone and additional lean muscle tissue, even while not working out. However, women may have to train harder than men to burn the same amount of calories during pull ups.  


The bigger the person the higher is the caloric expenditure during the workout. The height and weight of a person determine the number of calories that would be expended during a workout session. This is because heavier people have to lift greater bodyweight leading to the consumption of more calories.

Calories expended during pull ups

Be it pull ups or any other exercise, the energy spent in doing one pull up or one repetition of any other exercise burns very few calories. When we consider the average energy expenditure of people who are not training, it lies in the range of 1500 to 3000 calories. This would mean that 1 to 2 calories are burned in one minute. The average calorific expenditure for moderate cardio is 10 calories per minute.

Whereas, for high intensity interval training workout also known as HIIT workout, 20 calories are burned in one minute and sometimes 30 calories can also be burned in one minute. Now in case of pull ups, consider it to be of high intensity such that the calorie-burning rate is 30 per minute. The time taken for one pull up could range between 3 to 5 seconds, which means that the energy spent for one pull up range between 1.5 to 2.5 calories. However, for the majority of the people it would be much lesser than this range.

Different types of pull ups

Although beginners might feel that pull ups are strenuous, training for about six to eight weeks could make them better at it. One can benefit from the different types of pull ups, which would work on muscle groups such as biceps, lats, rhomboids, abdominals and many other smaller groups. The various types of pull ups are good for burning fat, building lean muscle and increasing strength in a short duration.

Standard pull up

The basic type of pull up is done by pulling oneself up with a pronated grip till the chin comes up to the level of the bar and then the body is lowered by extending the shoulders and stretching the arms.

Chin up

Chin ups are somewhat similar to standard pull ups. However, chin ups are done with a supinated grip. They are done at shoulder width or narrow grip, unlike standard pull ups that are done at wide or shoulder width.

Weighted pull up

This is an advanced variation that is performed by increasing the resistance through additional weights in the form a dumbbell held between the legs, weights added to a dip belt or weighted vest.

One arm pull up

In this type of pull up, only one arm is used for holding the bar and the other arm can suspend freely or hold on to the wrist of the pulling arm. The one arm pull up is a great calorie burner variation.

Extended leg pull up

This variation also known as calisthenics leg raises are good for burning fat and developing abdominal muscles. The extended legs form an L shape with the rest of the upper body.


Although pull ups are great for fat burning and muscle building, they aren’t the best way to expend calories. Pull ups can either be done continuously without any rest or be done with a break in between sets. Pull ups can be supplemented with other exercises like push ups. However, the body should not be overworked with a combination of several exercises. An impact aspect that is overlooked by many people is the number of calories consumed through meals. If calorie consumption is controlled then the problem of burning calories would not arise. Healthy individuals could try intermittent fasting, which is good for fat burning.

Apart from weight loss, pull ups also contribute to cardio health and are great for strengthening arms, back and core. In the end, it is the individual who has to make the workout plan based on personal goals. The workout plan must be made in such a way that one enjoys the work out without worrying about the amount or rate of burning calories.