The Best Calorie-Burning Workouts

Road cyclists in action, front view
Bicycling on an open road. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

How many calories you burn during a given workout will vary depending on your weight, your body fat percentage and metabolic rate, and the intensity at which you work. For example, if an average calorie burn is given based on a 130-lb. individual, you will need to estimate fewer calories burned if you are under 130 lb., and more calories burned if you weigh more than 130 lb. You will also burn more calories if you are muscular and lean and have developed a high metabolism through consistent strength training. The important thing to note, however, is the more effort you put into a workout, the more calories you will burn during that time.

High-Intensity Calorie Burners

Some of the best calorie burners are going to be high intensity in nature, requiring some degree of aerobic or cardiovascular conditioning. Bicycling at a racing speed of greater than 20 miles per hour burns approximately 944 calories per hour for a 130-lb. person. Take that speed down slightly to a moderate 12 to 14 miles per hour and you can still burn 472 calories in an hour. An indoor group cycling class burns an estimated 600 to 800 calories per hour, which is one of the best burns for an indoor studio class. The advantage of bicycling is it is a low-impact exercise, which is easier on the joints compared to high-impact activities such as running.

Although running is a high-impact exercise, that is partly the reason for its high caloric burn rate: The body uses more energy (burns calories) when it has to distribute the shock of landing time after time. Running at an eight-minute mile pace for one hour burns 738 calories per hour if you are 130 lb., and up to 1,078 calories if you are closer to 190 lb. Running slightly slower at a nine-minute mile pace still burns 649 and 949 calories per hour, respectively.

Another of the best calorie-burning activities is running up stairs. Estimated to burn 885 calories per hour for a 130-lb. individual, this is a serious contender. Considering this activity does give a slight rest period each time you run down the stairs, it may not seem as intense as trying to run or bike at a consistent pace; however, it will definitely get you sweating and burning the calories.

Fitness Center Workouts

Some of the best calorie-burning workouts in fitness centers are group fitness classes. Partially due to the motivation of the instructor pushing you to work harder than you might on your own, and partially due to the actual format, the following classes are high-calorie burners.

Kickboxing: This class mixes boxing-style punches with quick-moving footwork, martial arts style kicking and sports conditioning drills for an athletic-style workout. Estimated to burn 590 to 865 calories per one-hour class, you can increase your calorie burn by adding higher-impact moves or decrease your calorie burn by doing lower-impact versions. An example would be performing traditional jumping jacks for high impact or alternating foot taps to the side in place of jumping for lower impact.

Boot Camp: Boot camp style classes mix a large variety of movements within a class and can vary from one instructor to another. However, most boot camp classes combine more intense moves such as jumping, running, calisthenics, pushups, squats and lunges for a high-calorie burn of approximately 600 to 900 calories per one-hour class.

Burning Calories At Home

Some of the best calorie-burning activities can happen in your home as well. Jumping rope, for example, burns 590 calories in one hour based on a 130-lb.person, and jogging in place can burn 400 to 500 calories per hour. If you were to combine running up and down stairs, jumping rope and jogging in place for 30 minutes, you would have an at-home workout that burns approximately 300 calories per half hour, or 600 calories per hour.

If you find that organized exercise does not appeal to you, housecleaning and gardening also burn calories and can certainly be a workout. Although they generally burn calories at a lower rate than purposeful fitness activities, they do still burn calories through movement. General housecleaning and gardening movements burn 200 to 300 calories per hour; you can increase that rate by adding in tougher jobs or working at a quicker pace. For example, hauling bags of mulch will add to your calorie burn, as will climbing up and down a ladder to clean cobwebs from the ceiling.

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