Does Cardio Kickboxing Really Burn More Calories?

“500 Calories per hour…Burn off your Big Macs!” and whatever other kinds of ploys they can acquire to pull the false workout veil over our eyes…


You’ve probably guessed I’m talking about a popular group exercise class…cardio kickboxing. Tae Bo pretty much put kickboxing on the map because before that all I can remember is a bunch of Muhammad Ali clips…which involved zero women doing the sport.


Kickboxing has become a wildly obsessive craze. I’d say it rates second when it comes to zumba these days. Every month at my gym I witness a bunch of women gather around the new group ex schedule patiently waiting to see if more suitable kickboxing class times have been added to the schedule…or even worse, if some are cancelled.

On my gym schedule, I would say kickboxing is offered five days per week. Yup, exactly the same frequency that zumba is. (Although I’m sure the zumba-ites could dance their way to the exercise director’s hearts and go for a solid seven days if they really wanted to…)



I’m not being a negative nancy when it comes to kickboxing…don’t get me wrong I love a great sweat with some badass Million Dollar Baby moves, but I think it’s being sensationalized a bit too often in gyms.

The main reason most of us go to the gym is to burn calories. (Not me, I’m one of the freaks who goes for the endorphins πŸ˜‰ )

One of the benefits of kickboxing is that it claims to BURN 500 CALORIES PER HOUR. And oh yes, huge caps are ALWAYS used to illustrate that specific point.

For years, I believed in the big 500, until I actually began to start wearing a heart rate monitor and studying nutrition, exercise and how the body exactly works with it’s burn fat to cardio ratio.

A key element everyone seems to forget when reading these overhyped claims at gyms is that results are not typical…and not for everyone. This has got to be my number one pet peeve when it comes to gyms and studio advertising.

Of course they are there to fill classes, get renewed memberships and slim you down all at once, so there’s a profit involved.


Since every body is different…at the end of my kickboxing class it told me I only had burned 261 calories. Yes, 261. πŸ™

I was shocked because it sure felt like I had burned 500 calories…maybe even more than that…but nope, I had barely burned a solid 300!

So why does this happen?Β 

On average, most exercise burns you see in magazines or in workout videos are customized based on a 5’9″ person who is around 150 pounds. Generally if you’re taller, carry around a bit of fat and aren’t in as good of cardiovascular shape, your heart rate will tend to climb when you workout.

So if ya’ll know me, I’m barely five feet and 122 pounds. I don’t meet any of that criteria. I also have a higher threshold for cardio than someone who has just started a cardio program or kickboxing. (I’m not out of breath until my BPM reach around 162.)

Because I’m in better shape it means it’ll take a lot more to burn more calories and get my heart rate up than someone who isn’t in as great of shape. You can’t always go on how you feel, sometimes you have to rely on science to measure your accuracy and efficacy.

Polar is a great, more affordable option!

Polar is a great, more affordable option!

I strongly recommend those of you who can afford it and who have just begun to workout to invest in a heart rate monitor. (Specifically one that has a chest strap to measure the beats more accurately.) It’ll help you refocus your energy and you’ll actually be able to know if you’re burning what the gyms are touting.

I think this is the only area of my healthy lifestyle that I actually count calories BTW.

So what is everyone’s take on gyms and touting certain calorie burns? Pay attention to it or go by your own standards?

Peace, love and the more you know!


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16 Responses to Does Cardio Kickboxing Really Burn More Calories?

  1. Debbie says:

    Meh, I run. I don’t really count calories burned but if I do the math I know running burns about 600 calories per hour. I didn’t realize gyms were advertising this huge calorie burn. I guess people need to educate themselves.

  2. Charissa says:

    Those Polar heart-rates…I want one so bad! This post really makes me want one!

    • choc3178 says:

      they are so fabulous! I’m upset because I definitely overused mine and have to buy a new one! They are the best though!

  3. I rarely believe the number counts. I mean, it’s probably only if you are working MAX the whole time, which I could never do. However, I’m more worried about if it’s fun and if I feel like I’m getting a good sweat on!

    • choc3178 says:

      very true! I think people nowadays obsess over the numbers too much. I only use mine to keep track of my workouts in case I need some tweaking in my diet/exercise regiment down the line. Kickboxing is most definitely fun though! πŸ™‚

  4. Glenneth says:

    i have just joined a new gym with fitness classes and started wearing a heart rate monitor (polar ft60). i have been surprised on some occasions how many calories i have burned. definitely one way to monitor progress.

    • choc3178 says:

      Before I wore an HRM, I literally was convinced I burned so many calories. It’s a reality check for me! It also helps to keep my eating in check too now that I know I’m not burning as much as I thought I was.

  5. carla says:

    I just view it all as information.
    a TINY piece in the workout info-puzzle.

  6. Maureen says:

    I FINALLY bought myself a Polar HRM and love it! I am actually shocked at how many calories I burn during TRX…on a good, steady day I can hit almost 600 calories in an hour.

  7. Elle says:

    That is a cool device you have… better check that out! I am always skeptical of those advertised burn rates, too.

    • choc3178 says:

      Yeah, I feel like more people need to use their brains and question where all this information is actually coming from. Even some personal trainers are miseducated on this subject!

  8. Caitlin says:

    I definitely can’t stand it when any sort of fitness class/instructor or even just a certain workout in a magazine tries to claim that X amount of calories are “torched”. Even the “up to X calories” claims are deceiving. Like you said calories burned depend on so many things like weight, how in shape you are, body fat composition…I could go on! The only way to know for sure or at least pretty accurately is via a heart rate monitor. It’s why I never pay attention to the calories burned claims in magazines or on the machines I use. I’m glad you wrote this post because it’s a great source of education, it’s not meant to hate on kickboxing, you just used kickboxing as an example.

    • choc3178 says:

      thanks Cait! Yep, I’m so thankful for my HRM because without it I would still be thinking I burned tons of calories when in actuality I did not. Despite all the talk about misinformation, kickboxing is super fun! πŸ™‚

  9. Hannahviolin says:

    That’s really interesting to see exactly how different the calorie burn is: before I knew more I would have believed the 500 calories too, but now I know every individual is different. Lucky for me because I’m taller, a little overweight, and a little out of shape, I might actually burn those 500 calories though πŸ˜‰

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