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Forms of Exercise That Burn The Most Calories

Updated: Apr 23, 2019



When it comes to fitness, we want the biggest bang for our buck. With our insanely busy schedules we want to make sure the minutes we're putting in are paying off, and it turns out not all exercises are created equal. While a variety of movements and dynamic workout routines are crucial to achieve our best overall level of fitness, let's cut to the chase on what's killing those cals most effectively.


In March 2017, Harvard Health Publishing released data on dozens of common activities and their calories burned within 30 minutes for people of varying weights (weight range from 125-185). Here's the break down on which common forms of exercises burn the most calories:


1. Stationary Biking: 315-466 Calories

If you've been skipping spin class, think again. Biking comes in at number 1 for the top calorie burning exercise. If you're thinking of adding this workout to your routine on a regular basis, be sure to get a pair of clip in cycling shoes to get the most out of your workout.


2. Swimming: 300-444 Calories

Not only does swimming burn some serious cals, it's great for strengthening your joints and taking all impact off your body (for anyone with injuries, back knees etc.). It's a win-win!


3. Elliptical: 270-400 Calories

Another activity that's easy on the joints while still packing a punch is the elliptical. Stream your favorite show or listen to a podcast while you work your upper and lower body.



4. Rowing: 255-377 Calories

While not as common as a treadmill or elliptical, your gym will most likely contain a few rowers. Utilize this unique cardio machine that is great for a full body workout as well as being our number 4 calorie burner!


5. Running on The Treadmill: 240-355 Calories

These calories were calculated for someone running on average 5mph (12 minute mile) for 30 minutes. The faster you run, the more calories you'll burn! E.g. 5.2mph (11.5 minute mile) rises to 270-400 calories burned.


6. Circuit Training: 240-355 Calories

This is where you'll get to add some variety to your workout routine. If the repetitiveness of 1-4 is getting old, change things up with a fat burning circuit routine and add some variety to your workouts. Here are some basic guidelines for choosing your circuit: Select 5-6 movements (upper body, lower body, core etc.), perform each movement for 1 minute for 5-6 rounds.


7. Vigorous Weight Lifting: 180-266 Calories

Coming in at number 7, it should be noted that weight lifting will continue to burn calories for several hours after your workout. While it has the lowest calorie burn during the workout itself, the additional calories burned make this form of exercise a strong contender. Not to mention weight lifting strengthens joints, increases bone density, and alters muscle composition making you appear leaner (along with burning calories). Be sure to incorporate some weight lifting into your workout regime.


For best results, aim to include a variety of these exercises into your fitness routine to keep your body guessing!