Adding resistance training by volume

edited February 2018 in Feature Requests

Time is an extremely vague measure to quantify resistance training: most of the time is spent in resting between sets and the type and weight of those sets are completely ignored.
Using volume is a much better way to normalize the intensity of any kind of exercise to an objective value .


  • How would you quantify volume. I suppose you could figure out how much mass was moved over a distance (length of arms for bench, depth of squat etc.) multiplied by an efficiency factor. That would be very hard to calculate accurately though. The calorie estimates you see in this app are based on studies where subjects lifted weights while wearing a respirator to capture their exhaled CO2. It's probably a fair ballpark to start from. If you lift heavy with little rest, then you probably burn more.

  • Easy: sets x reps x weight. It only takes your phone calculator.

    In 15 minutes someone can do 3 sets of 12 reps of biceps curls with 8 kg dumbbells and someone else can do 3 sets of 100 kg squats. Someone can rest for 10 minutes between sets and someone else can wait 3.

    By normalizing all workouts to sets x reps x weight we can get a much better estimation of the total effort than just considering the time spent and ignoring the weight and how much of that time is spent resting.

  • edited March 2018

    Completely agree. Honestly, for this very reason, I find the way crono notes exercises at present not useful...

    I would add that I would want to note the constituents of that volume. So I would want to have an entry consist of 3 things:
    15reps + 20kg + exercise name
    I have two uses for that:
    1. crono calculates some very approximate calories
    2. More importantly, I can review my training schedules how they developed over time... what results I had from what type of series, etc

  • imagine one Crono user has 1 min of pause between series and another user has 5 min of pause. in the present system, both may have an entry of 1 hour of training. But the first user has burnt a MULTIPLE OF CALORIES. Making the same entry in Crono is so wrong as it gets! And it is useless also because these users cannot look back to find out what they did when they achieved that weight loss/gain etc...

  • Hi Hilary, what do you think about this suggestion by IAmAgainst? I feel it would be a wonderful improvement, moving the exercise logging in crono from grossly wrong to really useful!

  • Hi @Lolinda, We are hoping to work on improving our exercise library this year.
    As we are primarily a nutrition tracking software, we do focus mostly on curating an accurate and complete database of foods, and expanding our usability and charting.
    The best way I can recommend to get an accurate Caloric reading from exercise is to monitor your heart rate with an activity tracker. We integrate with these trackers so you can be sure you are getting the best dedicated nutrition tacking software (Us, of course! ;)) and also the best activity reading by a dedicated activity tracking software!
    You can sync your wearable activity tracker with Cronometer by going to the Profile page and selecting the device you wish to connect.

    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Hi Hilary, I see your point in focussing software development resources on your core business, nutrition tracking. So here my modified, low-cost wish, hoping that it makes it into your exercise library overhaul: Just replace "minutes" by "repetitions".

    Why this change would be so powerful:

    • Works without digitalising and gadgetifying myself even more :):o:)
    • would provide absolutely satisfying caloric accuracy without doing rocket engineering :)
    • the biggest advantage, however, would be: it documents what I did! So I can look back in time that when I achieved this or that, I trained like this or that.
    • In sum: this simple change would serve a double purpose: document the training AND count calories reasonably accurately
  • Btw there is a bug in the current way of using exercises in Crono:
    if you add a predefined exercise to a day, say "climbing hills", the popup tat opens sometimes shows "custom exercise" with 100kcal. I ad this so many times!! It can struck with any predefined exercise. Today I had it with two different predefined exercises.

  • I experience this bug in the web version.

  • Hi Lolinda,

    Thanks for reporting this issue. Would you be able to send us a screen shot to [email protected] if this happens again?

    Make sure the exercise is selected from the list and this should update the kcal burned per unit time below. Clicking the item a second time will de-select the item in the list and return the option to enter in a custom exercise.


    Karen Stark
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Hi Karen,

    it is very easy to reproduce this bug: it happens frequently.
    I tried around a bit. Your hint with the selected item was instrumental!
    So what happens is this:
    Many times when I tap an item, that "add exercise" button pops up, however, the item tapped will not be highlighted and accordingly, the calories stay at 100kcal. Tapping the item now a second time highlights the item and corrects the kcal.

    ➞ for me the problem is solved now. Thank you. I have a workaround!

    (I use the web version of Crono in Chrome on Android. I hope this helps in debugging)

  • edited May 2018

    But now back to the previous topic: would it be possible to have "repetitions" instead of "minutes" as the units in exercises that are some kind of resistance training? It is really so pointless that if I stretch 20 reps over an hour, Crono counts it equal to 2000 reps done over an hour... And reps in Crono would also document what I did.

    I fully understand and agree to Hilary's point that Crono is about nutrition and not exercise. But a change as simple as changing a text item (and a few calories data) in a few exercises (only those representing resistance tranining) shouldn't be a big deal... Or am I wrong and this is big effort?

  • Great Lolinda! I am glad to hear it is working for your now :)

    Have you tried using the Cronometer mobile app? You may find it easier to use the features in the app on smaller screens. You can download the app for free on your Android device from Google Play.


    Karen Stark
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Hi Karen,

    thanks... but I do not know how I could make use of the app. it lacks the function "copy day".

    And what do you think about the other topic, replacing minutes by reps (see above)?


  • Hi Lolinda,

    You can tap the gear icon in the app diary page and choose either "Copy Previous Day" to enter in today's diary everything you had yesterday, or;
    "Copy Current Day" and then select the date where you would like to paste the data. Tap the gear icon in the new date, and then select "Paste".

    But if the app is not for you, that is understandable!

    Exercise is not my area of expertise, so I can't offer you any technical advice - just what I do in my own Cronometer diary. When I am tracking my resistance training, I enter in the amount active time that I am doing the exercise.

    For example:

    3 minutes of shoulder press then 1 minute rest,
    5 minutes dumbbell curls, 1 minute rest
    2 minutes tricep dips then 3 minutes rest.

    If I do three sets of these exercises, then I enter in 30 minutes of resistance training, even though I was at the weight set for 45 minutes. I'm not one to count reps, so this might not be for everyone.


    Karen Stark
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Okay then - if you guys are proposing sets * reps * weight, please go dig up some studies to support the assignment of a calorie value to a single kg rep. For energy used in moving the weight, you're going to need an additional factor - distance moved. Given the same weight, an olympic snatch is going to burn more calories than a power lifting style squat. An ass to ground squat is going to burn more than a "break parallel" squat or a bench press. Wide grip bench will burn fewer calories than narrow and fewer than an A to G squat of the same weight.

    But in the end, weight lifting doesn't burn a heck of a lot of calories regardless of how you cut it. Certainly far less than an equivalent amount of time running. You guys are arguing over variance of maybe 100 calories per hour.

  • edited May 2018

    Indeed, @John_Vance . I think the more important point in having reps in the diary is to document what you did. Certainly, thats not perfect either and won't document all the details you mention. But a total of x reps says more than y minutes spent. Minutes really say nothing. I think the total number of reps done is a good compromise between effort of logging things into crono and the utilities of:

    • having a rough documentation what I did
    • having a somewhat improved means of counting calories
    • additional bonus: for logging minutes, I need to watch the time. for logging reps, I do not need to do anything extra, I count them anywise

    @Karen_Cronometer thanks for the hint that the Crono app meanwhile has the copy day function!! Very good! I abandoned the app a long time ago because of lack of this function at that time... If I may ask one more thing: I find it very very useful that the calendary in the web version displays which days are completed / have data / are empty. Can one get such an overview anywhere in the app? Before asking, I tried to find it myself but failed...

  • Hi @Lolinda, for logging purposes I'd recommend using google docs, that's what I did at first and, although tedious, it does the job. After getting tired of copy/pasting and editing the same stuff over and over again, I ended up making myself an android app that does exactly why I need.
    I really don't understand why so much reluctance against such an intuitive way of measuring that activity. If a food entry can allow multiple units like grams or cups, why can't an exercise be entered in any unit that pleases the user, like minutes, reps, distance run, etc..?
    It doesn't have to make sence in a physical sense, the food log already includes lots of units that don't make sense at all and it's left to the user to decide whether to use them or not, like using cups for measuring solids (does every single person in USA fit exactly the same number of leafs inside a cup when measuring spinach?).

  • @Lolinda You are right, in the mobile app the calendar does not show which days you have logged items or completed days. That's a great idea, thanks!

    You can check to see which days you have entered foods in the Trends tab on the app.
    There will be gaps in the Calories Consumed graph on the dates where no foods were entered.
    You can also edit the graph to view then select the gear icon in the top right corner. Tap 'Days Displayed' to choose all, non-empty or completed days.


    Karen Stark
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • My training focus has been on bike racing and I haven't been doing any lifting for the past 3 months. When I do lift, I use the Stronglifts 5x5 app, which connects to Cronometer via Apple Health and passes in time and guesstimated calories under "traditional weight lifting". I realize that Stronglifts is a beginner program and it's stone simple, but there must be other apps out there that can track your exercises, sets and reps along with workout time and communicate workout time and type to Cronometer. I would think that using a separate app for that would be a better way to go, much like I use TrainingPeaks and Strava to track the details of my training but pump in time and calories to Cronometer.

  • Thanks for recommending Stronglifts!

  • edited June 2021

    I read through this thread because I have the questions about weight lifting and calories. Just to be clear, am I correct in understanding that the current way Cronometer counts calories for weight lifting is for the actual exercise, and it does not count rest times? If that's the case, then I'll just know to add up the time I'm lifting.
    Thank you.

  • Yes Andromedus! The time entered for weight lifting does not take into account time spent at rest.

    Karen Stark
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • edited July 2021

    So just the actual lift part? This is even more reason to change how that’s calculated.

    For an approximation, it takes less than a minute to deadlift or squat several hundred pounds for 3-8 reps. Rest time is 3-5 minutes per set. So on a day with a total of ten sets, that’s 8 minutes work out of a total 45-60 minutes. Cronometer shows that to be about 60 calories. 60 calories for a heavy day of lifting?

    It’s true that weight lifting isn’t about calories, but 60 calories per hour can’t be right. A light stroll is more than that.

    We know that after heavy weight lifting the body continues to burn calories for hours at a much higher rate than normal as it tries to mend and build muscle; after a heavy day of lifting my body is wrecked.

    I don’t have the background to know how to search research publications, but surely there’s a better way to calculate this. The way it’s done now assumes that aerobic exercise is the same as anaerobic exercise. That just isn’t so.

    Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

  • Sorry for my previously incorrect post! I checked with our exercise expert and here's what she had to say:

    When researchers are finding MET values they are monitoring the athlete/participant for the duration of the activity. So for weightlifting that would be while performing the activity and during the rests between sets. In others words, if you are taking an average amount of rest between sets, the MET values apply. If you're taking a really long rest between sets/reps you may want to just include your "working time" in the calculations. For example, one study I found used 60 seconds between series of the same exercise, and 3 minutes between sets/exercises, so anything around there should be good!

    Karen Stark
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Thanks for this! Sounds like it's up to us to guesstimate how much of our rest is counting towards calorie-burn. Obviously the rest time would vary according to the intensity of the set, between 1-3 minutes, yeah?
    Additionally, as p0wer_lifter pointed out, weight lifting boosts your metabolism in general, so that would imply a more long-lasting effect on calorie burn that might be impossible to quantify.

  • edited July 2021

    Thanks for clarifying, Karen. This makes more sense and though not perfect, it probably gives a good enough approximation - or at least as good as we’ll be able to get. I appreciate your quick response and clarification.

    Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

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