12 Exercises That Burn the Most Calories

Best ways to burn Calories

If you want to get the most calorie bang for your buck, you might want to take up running. Running burns the most calories per hour.

But if running isn’t your thing, there are other calorie-burning exercises like HIIT workouts, jumping rope, and swimming. You can do any combination of these exercises according to your preferences and fitness level.

How many calories you burn depends on several factors, including:

  • duration of exercise
  • pace
  • intensity
  • your weight and height

Generally, the more you weigh, the more calories you will burn during physical activity.

If you’d like to know the exact number, work with a personal trainer. They can determine your individual calorie burn during a workout.

Best exercises for calorie burn

The following table includes the top 12 calorie-burning exercises. These exercises burn the most calories per hour. Remember, the calories listed are an estimate. Your exact calorie burn depends on factors like intensity, duration, and your weight.

Exercise/body weight125 lbs155 lbs185 lbs
Water polo566703839
Circuit training480596710
Jump rope453562671
Stationary bicycling420520622
Rowing machine420520622
Aerobic dance396492587
Swimming (casual)396492587

On a time crunch

You can do exercises that burn lots of calories even if you don’t have much time. The key is to focus on high-intensity workouts that quickly increase your heart rate.

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a popular way to do this. It involves short bursts of exercise at more than 70 percent of your aerobic capacity.

One HIIT method involves alternating between 30-second speed and 1-minute rest intervals. By doing high-intensity workouts, you can burn a lot of calories in 30 minutes or less.

Try these exercises for burning a lot of calories when you’re on a time crunch.

High-knee running

Calories burned in 30 minutes:

240 to 355.5

High-knee running is a vigorous cardio workout. It raises your heart rate while strengthening your lower body. As a high-intensity exercise, high-knee running is useful for burning calories in a short amount of time.

To do this exercise:

  1. Run in place while lifting your knees as high as possible.
  2. Quickly pump your arms up and down.

Butt kicks

Calories burned in 30 minutes:

240 to 355.5

Butt kicks are a cardio workout, just like high-knee running. You can quickly burn calories within 30 minutes by doing butt kicks at a high intensity.

To do this exercise:

  1. Lift one heel toward your butt.
  2. Repeat with the other heel.
  3. Rapidly alternate your heels while pumping your arms.

Mountain climbers

Calories burned in 30 minutes:

240 to 355.5

The mountain climber is a cardio exercise that doubles as a full-body workout. Since you need to use your entire body, you’ll burn a lot of calories in a short period of time.

To do this exercise:

  1. Start in plank position. Place your shoulders over your hands.
  2. Engage your core. Lift your right knee toward your chest.
  3. Return to plank. Repeat with your left knee.
  4. Repeat quickly.


Calories burned in 30 minutes:

198 to 294

Swimming is a low-impact workout that burns energy while improving muscle strength, blood flow, and lung and heart capacity. Thirty minutes of casual swimming burns about the same number of calories as 30 minutes of jogging.

However, swimming is less stressful on the body. It may be an appropriate exercise if you have joint problems or limited mobility.

To increase your caloric burn during swimming, do laps or water aerobics.

Stationary bicycling

Calories burned in 30 minutes:

210 to 311

If you have access to a stationary bike, try intervals of high-intensity cycling. As a vigorous cardio workout, stationary bicycling can burn a significant number of calories in 30 minutes.

Start with a five-minute warmup and alternate between one-minute speed and two-minute recovery intervals. On a scale from 0 to 10, your speed intervals should be 7 to 9. Your recovery intervals should be at 5 to 6.


Calories burned in 30 minutes:

240 to 355.5

Generally, running is the best calorie-burning exercise. But if you don’t have enough time to go on a run, you can shorten your workout into high-intensity sprints. Your body will rapidly burn calories to fuel your workout.

Before sprinting, warm up by doing jumping jacks or high-knee running.

At home

If you’re at home and don’t have gym equipment, you can still do high-calorie-burning exercises.

The HIIT bodyweight workouts listed above can be done at home. Exercises like high-knee running, butt kicks, and mountain climbers require limited space.

In addition to HIIT, the following workouts are excellent for burning calories.


Calories burned per minute:

3.1 to 4.6

Walking is the simplest way to burn calories at home. It’s also ideal if you’re recovering from an injury. You can do it around your house or in your backyard, so it’s extremely convenient.

If you do housework while walking around your home, you’ll burn even more calories per minute.


Calories burned per minute:

10.8 to 16

Running is the best workout for burning calories, improving flexibility, and increasing endurance. Since running doesn’t require any equipment, it’s convenient enough to do anywhere.

The faster you run, the more calories you’ll burn per minute.

Aerobic dance

Calories burned per minute:

6.6 to 9.8

Calorie-burning exercises aren’t limited to running and high-intensity training. If you like to dance, you can burn calories by doing a high-energy dance workout at home.

Dancing is cardio exercise disguised as a recreational activity. It’s a fun way to raise your heart rate and burn calories.

Try a popular dance workout like Zumba or Bokwa.

Jumping jacks

Calories burned per minute:

8 to 11.8

Jumping jacks are a basic cardio exercise that raises your heart rate. It also offers an awesome full-body workout. You don’t need much space to do jumping jacks, so it’s easy to do at home.

To do this exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet together. Place your arms at your sides.
  2. Jump with your legs shoulder-width apart. Lift your arms over your head.
  3. Repeat as necessary.

Depending on the intensity, jumping jacks can be part of your warmup, HIIT workout, or general routine.

Jumping rope

Calories burned per minute:

7.6 to 9.8

Jumping rope increases your heart rate and burns calories while building lower leg strength. Additionally, jump ropes are compact and easy to store. They’re great for people who don’t have much space at home.

Other considerations

If you’d like to do exercises that burn lots of calories, there are a few things to consider.

Cardio vs. weight training

Cardio is just one way to effectively burn calories. Weight training, or strength training, is also important. Compared to a session of weight training, cardio typically burns more calories in a single session. However, weight training increases muscle mass, which burns more calories than fat.

The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest. This means your body will burn more calories over time, even when you’re sleeping or sitting at your desk.

A fitness regimen that includes both cardio and weight training will maximize your individual calorie burn.

Warm up

Always warm up before doing cardio. This will increase your body temperature and blood flow, which prepares your body for exercise. It also reduces your risk of injury.

Consider doing modified exercises if you have:

  • an injury
  • limited mobility
  • certain health conditions (like arthritis)

Talk to a doctor, personal trainer, or physical therapist. These specialists can demonstrate how to safely do calorie-burning exercises. They can also recommend other modifications and moves for your goals.

How to get started

Before starting a new exercise plan, talk to your doctor first. Your doctor can suggest the best type of exercise for your current health and fitness level. They will also explain any safety measures you should take.

For example, if you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll need to monitor your blood glucose levels during and after exercise.

When you’re ready to start a workout regimen, begin with:

  • simple, basic moves
  • low reps
  • low weights

This will minimize your risk of pain and injury. If weight loss is your goal, consider working with a certified personal trainer. A personal trainer can plan an appropriate exercise routine for your specific goals and overall health.

The bottom line

Running is the winner for most calories burned per hour. Stationary bicycling, jogging, and swimming are excellent options as well.

HIIT exercises are also great for burning calories. After a HIIT workout, your body will continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours.

If you’d like to start an exercise routine, see your doctor. You can also consult a personal trainer or physical therapist for individualized guidance. These specialists can help you exercise safely and effectively.


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