When you’re working out several times a week to get fit and lose weight, you want a routine that offers maximum results in a minimum amount of time. While many people believe that cardio is the best way to burn calories, others prefer to strength train instead.
But which type of exercise burns more calories? According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, running on a treadmill can burn more calories (25 to 39 percent) than doing kettlebell swings at the same level of exertion. However, the study also suggests that kettlebell work and other forms of strength training can help increase your metabolism, so you burn more fat and calories even during rest.
Whether you’re doing cardio or strength, working out in intervals is the best way to maximize your calorie burn in a short amount of time. Alternate between short bursts of intense effort and periods of lower intensity or rest. The intensity resets your metabolism to a higher rate during your workout, so it takes hours for your body to cool down again. This is what’s known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). That means you burn more calories long after you’ve finished your workout compared to doing a workout at a continuous moderate pace, according to a 2017 study from the European Journal of Applied Physiology.
Here are the best calorie-burning workouts for weight loss that you can break up into intervals to get the most out of your sweat sesh. Do the exercise of your choice for 30 seconds every five minutes, and as you progress and get fitter, you can increase the interval to doing a full minute of intense work every four minutes. And remember, you want to be working at your maximum—leaving you out of breath by the end of that interval.
Whether you love or hate it, running is one of the best and simplest ways to burn calories. And, you don’t need a treadmill to do it. Just lace up your shoes and hit the road. But pounding pavement doesn’t have to be a mindless workout. Running in intervals—speeding up and slowing down your pace—will help make the minutes and miles go by quickly. Run in fartleks, which means speedplay in Swedish, where you pick up the pace every other street lamp or water hydrant you hit, and then slow down after you pass the next one. Follow these running tips in the video below:
Limm All Purpose Jump Rope
If grade school was the last time you picked up a jump rope, it’s time to get back into the swing of things. This calorie-busting workout can burn up to 318 calories (for a 140-pound woman) per 30 minutes—and your heart isn’t the only muscle working hard. Jumping rope is essentially a full-body workout. Fire up your quads and glutes to help you explode from the ground, and engage your core to keep you upright and stable as you land back down to the ground. Jumping rope also involves a little arm and shoulder action, as they remain tight while the rope movement all comes from the wrists.
AmazonBasics 20-Pound Dumbbell Set
Women are quickly taking over the weight room, and you should get in on the action, too. Why? Strength training can help you build lean muscle mass and rev up your metabolism, which starts to slow down once you hit your 30s. Maintaining muscle alone burns at least 30 calories per pound. But there are more reasons to hit the squat rack than just getting swole. Resistance training also helps prevent osteoporosis. According to Wolff’s law, bone grows in response to the forces that are placed upon it. So if you lift heavier, your bone grows stronger as a response. Deadlifts, anyone?
Everlast Pro Style Training Gloves
Kickboxing is a great way to burn calories and fat, sculpt muscles—and get some serious stress relief! Nothing can knock stress better than throwing a punch. By driving power from your legs, your arms are able to throw major jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts, making it a full-body exercise. It will also test your coordination and endurance—all essential things that make you a better athlete in and out of the ring.
Tommaso Pista Spin Shoe
Spinning, whether it’s on an actual bike or a stationary one, is one of the best ways to burn calories and build endurance. If you don’t like running, spinning is a low-impact alternative that’ll crank up your heart rate. But there’s more to pushing the pedal than speed. By practicing good form and engaging your core as well as your thighs and glutes, spinning can be a full-body workout, too. Whether you’re doing a heavy climb in first position or sprinting in second, your core is the key to spinning efficiently and quickly. And as you drive your foot down with each stroke, it’s all about squeezing your inner thighs.
Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
HIIT workouts are, by far, one of the most effective ways to burn calories and hike up your metabolism. And, the best part is these workouts don’t have to go for very long. Some HIIT workouts can last for only 10 minutes, but it’s only effective if you push your body to its limits with all-out energy. Research has shown that HIIT can help burn belly fat, aka the worst kind of fat that puts you at risk for heart disease and other health conditions. Try our 10-minute, total-body workout to rev up your metabolism.
If you haven’t used your gym’s rowing machine, you’re missing out on one of the best pieces of cardio and strength equipment. Working your quads, glutes, hamstrings, core, arms, and back, you get a total-body workout that’ll have you pouring sweat. Contrary to what most people think, the power of rowing mostly comes from your legs—not your arms. Engaging your quads and glutes, you drive your legs back to pull the handle towards your chest. Follow these pro tips to perfect your rowing form.
Don’t be fooled by the elliptical! It might look an easy machine, casually spinning your legs while watching TV or reading a magazine. But if you crank up the resistance and work at a hard pace, it’ll leave you breathless. Be sure to stand up straight to lengthen your abs and engage your upper-body muscles. Making use of the handles and swinging your arms will help you blast more fat and calories. Are you guilty of making any of these common elliptical mistakes? Follow these pro tips to fix them.
No matter how fit you are, climbing up a flight of stairs is always a challenge. That’s because steps are designed to be short so that you have to engage additional muscles, like your glutes, quads, and calves, to bring your body up. Take your cardio to the next level, er, step by doing this HIIT StairMaster workout, working your way from a comfortable, moderate pace to all-out effort.
Battle ropes are an excellent no-fuss way to get a full-body strength training and cardio workout. Working at a high intensity, battle ropes will increase your heart rate in seconds. To use them properly: Hold one end of the rope with each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart. Bend your knees slightly and keep your chest up as you alternate whipping your arms to send waves down to the rope anchor.
Tiffany Ayuda, a senior editor at Prevention and certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise, has specialized in fitness, health, and general wellness topics in her previously editorial roles at Life by Daily Burn, Everyday Health, and South Beach Diet.