Calories are a way to measure how much energy you burn during a workout. What are some of the exercises that burn the most calories?
If you want to know about the best calorie burning exercises with the goal of losing weight keep in mind that your other lifestyle habits like nutrition matter a lot too.
This article will focus on the calorie-burning effects during the workout. Strength training can help you build muscle which is useful for long-term calorie burning. This potentially leads to more total long-term calorie burning per 30 minutes of exercise.
The numbers of calories burned below are general estimations for 125-215 pound (56-97 kg) individuals doing the workout for 30 minutes. The actual number of calories burned with an exercise depends on things like weight, body composition, intensity, hormone levels, and much more.
You may also not be able to keep up the pace from the estimations for 30 minutes. Generally, the more intense you do the exercise the more calories you burn but keep the limits of your body in mind.
The ranking is not strictly in order of maximum calorie-burning potential. If you are interested in learning more calorie-burning estimations from exercise you can check out our table with over 100 activities.
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Running 6 mph (9.7 km/h) for 30 minutes burns around 295 to 508 calories. You can find more specific estimations right here.
Running is one of the most popular exercises out there. This is partly because running is a great exercise for burning a lot of calories. Another benefit is that is so easy to get started with it. You don’t need a lot of equipment to run, once you have a good pair of running shoes you can get in a running workout.
Some of the benefits of running include: burning a lot of calories, strengthening your bones, improving your mood, and so on…
Keep in mind that running can be hard on body parts like knees and back, especially if you have a lot of pounds to lose. If you are in a situation like that some of the other exercise examples may be better to start with.
How to burn even more calories while running: build muscle, run with external weights like a weighted vest, go faster, run on a more challenging surface like uphill or on the beach, run with a headwind, run in the rain
Moderate effort cycling at about 12-13.9 mph (19.3-22.4 km/h) for 30 minutes burns around 236 to 406 calories. You can find more specific estimations right here.
Cycling is another very popular type of exercise. One of the reasons is that you can cycle as a form of transport. Just make sure you avoid traffic accidents!
Some benefits of cycling include: being a low-impact workout, can be a mode of transport, requiring a relatively simple technique, improving balance, and so on…
In some cases, cycling can lead to knee and lower-back pain. You can avoid this by cycling at a low resistance and paying attention to your posture.
How to burn even more calories while cycling: build muscle, use external weights like a weighted vest, go faster, cycle on uphill surfaces, if you are riding a stationary bike turn up the resistance, cycle in a headwind
Swimming breaststroke at a general pace for 30 minutes burns around 295 to 508 calories. You can find more specific estimations right here.
Another very popular exercise to burn calories is swimming. Especially for people who are very injury sensitive swimming can be a great workout option since the water carries a lot of your body weight. You do have to find a swimming pool or other body of water to be able to do this exercise.
Some benefits of swimming include: working out muscles over your entire body, burning a lot of calories, low injury-risk, can help you improve flexibility, and so on…
Make sure your swimming skill level is up for the workout you plan to do. Having a lifeguard near you is also recommended.
How to burn even more calories while swimming: build muscle, go faster, use more intense swimming styles
4. Jumping rope
Jumping rope at a moderate pace for 30 minutes burns around 295 to 508 calories. You can find more specific estimations right here.
Jumping rope is a great example of an exercise that helps you burn a lot of calories that many people forget. This is unfortunate because all you need to implement a rope jumping workout in your routine is a good jump rope, a generally inexpensive piece of equipment.
Some of the benefits of jumping rope include: burning a lot of calories, strengthening your bones, challenging your upper body, improving your coordination skills, and so on…
Just like running, jumping rope can be a hard exercise on your knees and back. If you are injury-sensitive other workout options may be better. Also, make sure the length of your jump rope is suited for your height.
Playing handball at a general intensity for 30 minutes burns around 354 to 610 calories (x).
Handball is a team sport where you try to get the ball in the goal of the other team with your hands. According to the MET estimations, estimations how intense an exercise is, handball is a great way to burn a lot of calories. On top of that you have the social connections involved in playing a team sport.
Some of the benefits of handball include: burning a lot of calories, improving social connections, strengthening your bones, challenging your upper body, improving your coordination skills, and so on…
One potential downside of using teamsports like handball as your way of working out is that you are dependent on other people. This can lead to more missed workouts than when you are the only one needed to exercise.
How to burn even more calories while playing handball: build muscle, play a more intense match
6. Martial arts like boxing
Doing martial arts like kickboxing at a moderate pace for 30 minutes burns around 304 to 523 calories. You can find more specific estimations for different types of boxing right here.
While martial arts like boxing competitively is done between two people, you don’t have to fight someone else to get in a martial arts workout. There are classes where you box a punching bag or spar in a more friendly manner instead.
Some of the benefits of boxing include: improving strength, improving your self-defense skills, improving coordination, and so on…
Person-to-person martial arts can cause a lot of physical injuries and potential long-term mental damage like cognitive decline. If you plan to do martial arts for its health benefits you may want to stick to training forms that do not involve getting punched.
How to burn even more calories while doing martial arts: build muscle, use external weights like a weighted vest, do it at a higher intensity
Rowing at a 100W resistance for 30 minutes burns around 207 to 356 calories. You can find more specific estimations right here.
A rowing machine is a gym machine that simulates the movement of rowing a boat. This machine is a great way to burn calories during the workout while at the same time working out muscles over your entire body which leads to more long-term calorie burning. You can also row on an actual body of water but this may require a lot more time and a higher budget.
Some benefits of rowing include: improving posture, being a low-impact workout, relatively simple technique, and so on…
To prevent lower-back injuries you want to play close attention to your posture when rowing.
How to burn even more calories while rowing: build muscle, go faster, if you are using a rowing machine increase the resistance
8. Step aerobics
Doing step aerobics at a general pace for 30 minutes burns around 251 to 432 calories. You can find more specific estimations right here.
Step aerobics is a type of workout where you do sequences of steps on and off a raised platform, usually with music in the background. Many people really enjoy doing step aerobics which helps with staying consistent and in turn burning a lot of calories.
Some benefits of step aerobics include: fun way to work out, improving your balance skills, strengthening your bones, and so on…
Step aerobics is often done in classes but if you do not like working out that way you can also find online videos and dvds that allow you to do step aerobics at home.
How to burn even more calories while doing step aerobics: build muscle, use external weights like a weighted vest, use a higher step, go at a faster pace, do more intense moves
9. Using the elliptical trainer
Using the elliptical trainer at a general pace for 30 minutes burns around 266 to 457 calories. You can find more specific estimations right here.
The elliptical trainer is a cardio gym machine that has been rising in popularity. This machine may look a bit complicated at first but if you give it a try you will find out it is a very beginner-friendly exercise to burn calories.
Some of the benefits of the elliptical trainer include: soft on your knees and back, engages your upper body muscles too, different resistance settings if you want to work your muscles more, burning a lot of calories, and so on…
While the elliptical trainer is generally easy to use, you do want to pay some attention to your posture when using it.
How to burn even more calories while using the elliptical trainer: build muscle, use external weights like a weighted vest, go faster, increase the resistance
10. Climbing stairs
Using a stairmaster, which is a gym machine that simulates an endless flight of stairs, at a general pace for 30 minutes burns around 177 to 305 calories. You can find more specific estimations right here.
While some people underestimate the potential of this activity, climbing stairs is a great way to burn extra calories. If you do not have a large flight of stairs available you can also go to the gym to use, or consider investing in a stairmaster.
Some benefits of the stairmaster include: being a low-impact workout, a very simple technique, helpful to work out certain leg muscles, and so on…
Climbing flights of stairs can be challenging for your knees. If you have a history of knee injuries other exercises may be a better choice to burn calories.
How to burn even more calories while climbing stairs: build muscle, use external weights like a weighted vest, skip one step each time, go faster, if you are using the stairmaster increase the speed
Things to keep in mind when exercising to burn calories
Knowing how many calories exercises burn can definitely be helpful information but it is not the only thing that matters.
A big part of burning a lot of calories with a workout plan is staying consistent with it. The workout that doesn’t get done doesn’t burn any calories.
How much you enjoy doing an exercise can influence how consistent you stay with your workout plan a lot. This means an exercise that burns slightly fewer calories in 30 minutes but you enjoy doing can be a good choice.
Other details of an exercise that will influence how consistent you can stay with it include how much time it takes to do, how many steps you have to take before you can start the actual workout, the injury risk of the exercise, and much more.
Most people want to know more about calorie quantities with the goal of losing weight. Keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important when trying to lose weight no matter what exercise you do. You can work out and gain weight at the same time if your other lifestyle habits are not good.