Can You Burn 1000 Calories in 60 Minutes?

Can You Actually Burn 1000 Calories in a 60 Minute Period of Time?

There is a scientific unit of measurement called a Metabolic Equivalent or  MET: The ratio of the work metabolic rate to the resting metabolic rate. One MET is defined as 1 kcal/kg/hour and is roughly equivalent to the energy cost of sitting quietly. The lowest MET measurement is 1 and the highest is 17. Any exercise that rates at 10+ on the MET scale will burn about 1000 calories in an hour. Sounds easy right? Not so much. First, you have to be physically fit enough to achieve the appropriate heart rate for the period of time to burn that volume of calories. 

I was not at that level of fitness when I started so I put a strategy in place to get there. I created a nutrition and training program that would allow me to peak and test my theory in about 3 weeks time.

According to my WHOOP band, my first workout burned about 718 calories in 60 minutes, my performance was poor, my percieved exertion was high and I could barely complete my workout. But I had a baseline and knew how much more distance I’d have to go in the same amount of time to get my target result.

The Fitness Paradox.

Data is hugely important in attaining this goal. There is a physiological paradox at play: the more prepared you are to do a 1000 calorie/hr workout, the harder it is to do it.  As you increase your fitness you become more efficient at exercising, reducing the number of calories you burn during your workout. For this reason you have to know when your body is optimized to push to a maximal load, otherwise you will fall short. Every time I increased the intensity and covered more distance and did more exercise in the hour, I only increased my caloric expenditure by a small amount. Never near as much as I thought I would have for the increased volume of exercise I was doing.

When you have achieved an optimal level of fitness and are completely recovered, only then can you attempt the 1000 calorie workout in 60 minutes. Not all fitness trackers are equal in achieving this goal. I prefer to use the WHOOP band because it measures how well I am recovered from my previous workouts and rest and allows me to create a training/eating schedule to peak at a 1000 calorie/hr workout. Without the WHOOP data I would have possibly put myself at a greater risk of injury making an attempt on a day when my body wasn’t ready for it or  I would have been discouraged by a poor result because I didn’t fuel right for the task.

This article outlines the exercise modalities and training roadmap to reach a 1000 calorie workout and where to do it in San Diego.

Like They Say in Fishing, If You Don’t Have Proof Then It Didn’t Happen.

Below is a screenshot of my best effort towards a 1000 calorie workout in 60 minutes. It took me about two weeks before I could make my first attempt at the workout. I had to drop weight, increase muscle mass and improve my recovery in order to find the energy to conduct myself at that intensity.

I know this is a little below the 1000 calories and the time is a little over 60 minutes. But  as you can see from the first image on the left, my heart rate didn’t go up until 3 or 4 minutes into the workout and there was a couple minutes of recovery at the end. The bulk of the workout was done in the 60 minute timeframe and, had I been able to stop and take a look at my monitor, I would have had the capacity to increase the intensity of 3 or 4 sets of the exercises to exceed the 1000 calorie goal. In other words, I had some reserve left in the tank to push harder in the hour, I just didn’t know I needed to.

My conclusion is, based on the data and my perceived exertion during the workout, that I could have trained harder and exceeded the 1000 calorie mark that day.


The Workout.

The workout consisted of a 60 pound sand bag and a mountain with 1,100 feet of elevation and a slope of  20-25%, sometimes steeper with stairs. At each of the switchbacks along the trail I performed an exercise with the sand bag ranging from squats and split squats to cleans and presses, all sets falling into the 12-15 rep range. Depending on the exercise and the section of the trail my HR spiked on the hike or the exercise. Lower intensity exercise preceded steeper, more rigorous pitches on the trail and higher intensity exercise preceded mellower pitches.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) like what I did in this workout, has shown to burn the most calories in the shortest period of time. In fact the Tabata Interval was discovered during research to achieve the most efficient interval to train both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems at the same time. HIIT can increase baseline caloric expenditures to a scorching 15+ calories a minute as recorded in J Sports Sci Med. 2013. We have a Calorie Calculator below to show you  how many calories you will burn in our outdoor boot camp, we do approach the 1000 calorie mark in certain workouts.


The Data.

The graph above is progress from sedentary behavior during the pandemic to achieving my 1000 calorie/hr goal. I had to drop body fat, improve nutrition and increase the intensity of my workouts without injuring an ankle that earns me 60% disability from the VA.

The two days where you see the workout strain above 16 are the two days I attempted the 1000cal/hr workout and was very close on both. Recovery was 85% and 92% respectively, allowing me to push myself to my limits. I was feeling great those days and ready to workout, however, my WHOOP band reinforced what I felt and gave me permission (and possibly a mental edge) to go for the target intensity. On my first attempt I actually exceeded my max heart rate at 184bpm (my max 220 – 46 [age] = 174 Max HR) and burned 972 calories in 63 minutes.

The really interesting data points that WHOOP recorded was the decrease in my Resting Heart Rate, which decreased significantly over the training schedule and my Heart Rate VariabIlity, which increased over the same time period. Physiologically I went from a semi fit 46 year old male to a very fit 25 year old. I’d have never know that without the data. 

My Conclusion.

It is possible to burn 1000 calories in a 60 minute period but I don’t recommend it for every workout. You will need to track your recovery and performance and choose to do this workout as a training peak and not as part of your regular routine. The reason being is that even as you improve your fitness level, you have to increase the intensity from your previous baseline to reach 1000 calories. In other words, it is always a peak workout no matter how fit you get.

I do like the idea of training to reach this goal then backing down, improving fitness and attempting again. I don’t think your data will change much no matter how fit you get as you will need to push you max heart rate to get the caloric expenditure, what will change is your sleep performance, recovery, HRV and RHR as these will all improve as when you are ready to peak with you 1000 calorie/hr workout.

 Where Can I Do This Workout in San Diego?

There are many great parks such as Morley Field and Mission Bay that offer perfect locations for outdoor HIIT workouts that can achieve that type of intentsity. Morley Field with its steep hills, stadium stairs and many different physical features is one of the best places for HIIT workouts in San Diego. By combining different types of exercise in one workout such as steep hill sprints, push ups and box jumps, you will achieve the intensity you are looking for more quickly than a single exercise workout such as cycling or running.

What Other Exercises Burns 1000 Calories in an Hour?

You could run 8 miles or bike 16 miles in under an hour if you have the physical capacaity to do it, or there is a more achieveable option: HIIT. You can’t start at a burn rate of 1000 calories an hour but you can build up to it. Not everyone can run or even build up to 7 minute miles for an hour straight or bike 3:30 second miles for 16 miles in a stretch but most people can work up to a 60 minute HIIT workout over time.

But I want to start burning 1000 caloreis a day today!

If you don’t want to work up to a 1000 calorie workout, you don’t have to. Working out at that intensity still requires reaching a level of cardio and physical conditioning that many people won’t ever achieve. By combining different workouts throughout the day you can easily burn 1000 calories a day in 90 minutes or more and effectively target fat burning. Here’s what you need to do.

2 x 45 Minute rounds of HIIT exercise.

If you were to do a split schedule of our 45 minute bootcamps in the morning and evening with a MET Value of 8-9 you would burn about 1260 calories in a day. Since we offer online and outdoor workouts, you could combine them to make it easier to achieve this goal. No equipment necessary, just some motivation and two short blocks of time. One home workout and one in-person workout is more than enough to burn 1000 calories in a day. But hey, let’s face it, spending 90 minutes working out isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

 1 HIIT Workout + 1 Hike.

You could do one at home HIIT workout and then head out to Torrey Pines and do the walk from the parking lot to the top of the hill and you would burn 1000+ calories in a day. Any trail with a steep hill like the trails in Mission Trails Regional Park at North or South Fortuna Mountain will offer a high MET Value for the time spent.

1 Bike Ride + 1 Hike.

If you want to cut down your training time to 60 minutes or less you’d have to be riding your bike up and over from La Jolla Shores to Torrey Pines Beach for one workout and then hit the staircase at South Fortuna for the next. I like that type of training schedule as both locations offer incredible views and you will feel very accomplished. If time is not a factor I would recommend doing a longer ride and a longer walk, just make sure both have hills and you push the intensity. You will need to do 90-120 minutes with your heart rate up to reach 1000 calories. The walk/hike is the harder of the 2 to achieve the intensity as it will require steep hills for most of the duration of the exercise period.

3 x 30 Minute Rounds of Exercise.

Try a 30 minute run around Balboa Park at the highest pace you can achieve first thing in the morning. Midday get a full body strength workout in your local gym then in the evening, hit the park for an allterra calisthenics workout with short sprints and bodyweight exercises. If you have the resources and time, this will burn bodyfat, increase lean muscle mass and greatly improve your cardiovascular fitness .

Burning 1000 Calories To Target Weight Loss.

All the exercises I have discussed in this article are for optimal health results. This means burning bodyfat, improving cardiovascular conditioning and achieving a healthy bodyweight through achievable weight loss. We do not promote quick fix programs, just good, old fashioned hard work. If you particpate in the recommended activities you will see improved sleep, better daily focus, healthier bodycompostion and lower resting heart rate and blood pressure. Our goal is to encourage everyone to get out and move. While myself and my wife to set a goal of burning 1000+ calories a day in exercise activities, we have been doing this for a long time and recommend that you build up to it. As always, be safe and please ask questions and get a physicians clearance before starting any rigorous exercise program.