The Guitar Hero Workout

How Many Calories Do You Burn Playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band?

Rock Band 4 vs. GH Live
Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live coming Fall 2015. Activision, Harmonix

After playing Guitar Hero: Metallica like crazy and being exhausted at the end of the day, I started wondering about how good of a workout Guitar Hero or Rock Band could really be. After finding only snarky responses to this question from years ago online from people who clearly didn’t know anything (par for the course, eh?), I did a little research on my own. Find out just how good of a workout Guitar Hero can be right here.

With Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live hitting Xbox One in Fall 2015, it's a good time to think about using the Guitar Hero Workout again.

Burning Calories

First off, you have to understand that basically everything you do burns calories. It is easy to say “Oh, it is just a video game, so it isn’t really doing anything for you,” but then, of course, you would be dead wrong. Everything you do from walking to the mailbox or doing laundry or moving your kids in/out of the car burns some amount of calories.

Just to put things in perspective, a pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories. If you eat 3500 more than you burn, you gain a pound. If you burn 3500 more than you eat, you lose a pound. Depending on your weight and body type, your body burns anywhere from 1500-2500+ just to keep you functioning through the day, and any other calorie burning activities you do is added on top of that.

So How Many Calories Can You Burn With Guitar Hero or Rock Band?

I know, I know, playing guitar or bass or drums in Guitar Hero/Rock Band isn’t realistic.

You music snobs can stop reminding everyone of that. While technically they aren’t the same, from a purely physical perspective they are pretty darn similar. You have to strum and you have to move your arms and, as long as you are playing on Hard or Expert, you are probably standing up. (I know I can’t play Hard/Expert sitting down, anyway.) And if you are playing drums on Hard or Expert, you are getting an undeniable full body workout.

So, if we look at Calorie Count again, we see that playing rock-style guitar, standing up, burns 204 calories per hour. And playing drums burns 272 calories per hour. (Check the Calorie Count Activity Browser to see how many calories all sorts of daily activities burn.)

Depending on the difficulty level you are playing on in GH/RB, these numbers can obviously go down quite a bit. But if you are playing on Hard or Expert guitar and have to hit 1500 or 3000 notes through a song, you are getting a heck of a workout and I would say they are probably fairly close to these numbers. Drums, obviously, are also going to be pretty close. And I can say from personal experience that it is easy to spend an hour or two at a time playing GH/RB so it definitely adds up.

Bottom Line

I can’t say if these numbers line up 1-to-1 with playing real instruments, but I don’t think they will be too far off. It isn’t like you could build a weight loss routine solely around it, but at least you can say you are accomplishing something playing Rock Band and Guitar Hero and that is better than sitting around doing nothing.