Running Flat vs Running Uphill to Burn Calories

A woman runs along a deserted country road, Chile.
Jeff Diener / Getty Images

Do you love to run to lose weight? Running is a great way to burn calories.  But jogging may burn fewer calories than you think.  Get a good estimate of how many calories you burn running and how many calories you burn running uphill before you indulge in that celebratory post-run treat or meal.

Calories Burned Running

According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), a 150-pound person burns just under 700 calories per hour while running 6 miles per hour on a flat surface. That would mean that you are jogging at a 10-minute per mile pace.

But it's important to remember that the number is a general estimate. The exact number of calories that you burn while running will depend on a few variables like your body size, your fitness level, and the running conditions. You'll get a good estimate by using the ACE Physical Activity Calculator.  Then adjust your number according to these variables:

  • Decrease the number of calories if you are running on a treadmill
  • Increase the number of calories if you are running uphill or on an unstable surface.
  • Decrease the number of calories if you are running downhill
  • Increase the number of calories if you are not a regular runner

To burn more calories while jogging, consider throwing in a few high-intensity intervals. Jog at a moderate pace for 3-4 minutes, then sprint for one minute. Repeat the sequence 4-6 times for an effective weight loss workout.

Running Uphill-Calories Burned

The number of calories you burn while running uphill will also depend on a number of factors, including speed, body weight and most importantly the level of incline. Jogging up a gradual incline will burn far fewer calories than sprinting up a steep grade. For this reason, it's hard to give an exact number of the calories burned running uphill.

But there are some ways to estimate it. If you use a treadmill that calculates energy expenditure, it's likely that the calorie count provided is fairly accurate. You might note the percent difference in running at a 0% grade and at a steep incline (10-12%) to use as a guide for the percent increase in calories that might happen when you run outside.

You might also use another intense activity as a guide. Adding an incline to your workout is similar to adding speed. So you can estimate that running uphill burns about the same calories as running faster. For example, the 150-pound runner listed about would burn 1095 calories sprinting for an hour as opposed to the 700 he would jog at a more leisurely pace.

There are a few online calculators that can calculate the number of calories burned running uphill. They may give you a better number, but you still need to take them with a grain of salt. The calculators require you to input the exact grade of the hill where you train; a number most runners aren't likely to know. 

How to Start Running Uphill

Whether you run outside or run indoors on a treadmill, you'll experience benefits from running (or walking) uphill. Michaela Raagas is a Master Trainer and  Education & Training Manager for Technogym. Technogym makes a wide range of exercise equipment, including the SKILLRUN treadmill that uses technology so that you can combine cardio training with power training during workouts.

"Incorporating hills and uphill running into a training routine is an effective tactic for runners to improve their technique and see results at an expedited rate, because they are able to burn more calories without increasing perceived effort, as it requires both cardio and strength training skills."

She says that running on a treadmill offers unique benefits such as the ability to store workout statistics, train year round, and run without road obstacles or inclement weather. She adds that gradually adding incline to your treadmill workouts is a smart way to learn how to run uphill so that you are safely able to transition your skills outdoors.

A Word From ​Verywell

Running is a great way to burn calories and fat.  But if your goal is weight loss, remember that runners still need to optimize their energy balance to lose weight and stay fit.  You'll find plenty of great running tips,​ workouts and training plans at Verywell Fit.  Use these resources to create a plan that works for you, then take steps to organize and improve your diet so that you get the energy you need without eating too much.