The formula for weight loss is simple — burn more calories than you eat. But not all exercise is equal when it comes to calories. To reach your fitness goals, choose an activity that maximizes the number of calories burned in the amount of time you have. Fortunately, with plenty of research available, you can have more calorie-blasting activity options than you may realize. Explore eight of the best workout options below.
Image via Flickr by daverose259
Don’t be fooled into thinking yoga is too slow and gentle to burn calories. Conventional cardio is one way to get your heart rate up, but never underestimate the challenge of going slow and steady. Hatha yoga involves holding certain poses for sustained periods of time. You’ll do plenty of sweating as the heat builds up in your muscles, even though you’re staying relatively still.
Power yoga is a good choice for people who want to feel the work in their workout. This style is about flowing smoothly from one pose to another. While the pace is slow, you’re always moving, and that movement helps you burn more than 350 calories per hour.
You can find many reasons to love running. You don’t need a gym membership, expensive equipment, or much training to get started. All you need is a good pair of shoes, a few tips on proper form, and the motivation to take the first step. Best of all, running is one of the best calorie-burning workouts you can do.
At 5 mph, a 200-pound person can burn 755 calories in a 60-minute run. Keep your workout interesting and amp up the burn by including sections of stair running, hills, and sprint intervals followed by jogging segments for recovery.
Hiking and Backpacking
If running isn’t your speed, slow down your activity and get out into nature. Hiking is another calorie-zapping activity you can do close to home without much equipment. Uneven terrain and elevation changes keep your body on its toes, which translates to an impressive 546-calorie burn for a 200-pound person on a one-hour hike.
Depending on the length and location of your hike, you may need to carry supplies in a backpack. Think about bringing water, healthy snacks, gear such as a headlamp and basic first aid kit, jackets, and other layering pieces in case the weather shifts. Adding a pack to your hike means more than being prepared; the extra weight also means burning additional calories.
Associating exercise with feeling hot and sweaty makes sense, but one of the most intense calorie-shredding workouts is something you can do in the snow. If you’ve never tried cross-country skiing, the appearance of a slow-paced, cold-weather workout may fool you into underestimating its intensity.
Don’t be fooled. Moving yourself across the ice and snow will put every major muscle system to the test, and engaging your full body is a quick way to maximize the burn. A 200-pound person can expect to burn 619 calories in a one-hour cross-country skiing outing.
Does thinking about running, hiking, or skiing make your knees hurt? Swimming is one of the best ways to get an intense, full-body workout without putting stress on your joints. The water does double duty, taking the pressure off of sensitive areas by supporting some of your body weight and creating resistance as you move through it, a movement which builds muscle strength.
Vigorous swimming can burn almost 900 calories per hour, but even doing light laps will get you more than 500 calories in a one-hour session. Be sure to also check your local pool schedule for water aerobics classes, which combine traditional aerobics with the benefits of water. This activity can burn up to 500 calories per hour.
Did you know you can burn more than 500 calories per hour while sitting down? Rowing is one of the most intense workouts you can get. It involves nine large muscle groups — hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes in your legs; shoulders, lats, and back muscles; and biceps and triceps in your arms and your core.
A 200-pound person can burn up to 546 calories per hour on a rowing machine. If you have access to a body of water where you can do the real thing, you can burn more calories.
This trendy workout is all about packing a major calorie burn into a short amount of time. In a typical tabata workout, you do each of four exercises all out for 20 seconds, then recover for 10 seconds — and repeat the full cycle eight times. The moves can be as basic as squats and crunches because the activity is all about intensity. Workouts usually last 20 to 30 minutes and you can expect to burn about 15 calories per minute, which adds up to 300 to 450 calories burned in a single session.
This trendy way of packing power into a short workout stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. Like tabata, HIIT involves going all out for a short period of time, followed by an active recovery. In a HIIT workout, these periods are somewhat longer than in tabata.
If you want to know why interval training is so effective, you can dig in to terms such as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). You can leave the science to the experts and remember that this type of workout revs up your metabolism so you’ll keep burning more calories for as long as 48 hours after your cooldown.
When any form of exercise starts to feel easy, mix up your activity. You’ll burn more calories by constantly challenging yourself, rather than getting comfortable in a predictable routine. Hydration is critical. Being even slightly dehydrated has a negative effect on your performance, and many people underestimate how much water they need before and after a workout. Be sure to do a thorough warmup and cooldown, including gentle stretching before and after every workout to prevent injury and minimize downtime. Taking care of yourself not only feels good, but it also helps squeeze every calorie out of these killer workouts.