Most people will cite many of the positive physical health benefits of working out as motivating reasons to continue hitting the gym, going for a run, taking on challenging HIIT workouts, and otherwise finding a way to get a good sweat on.
Exercise can improve your cardiovascular health, build and strengthen muscle mass, and reduce the risk of numerous lifestyle diseases. Plus, exercise is a great way to burn calories and help you manage your weight.
But what exercise burns the most calories? People often seek the most calorie-burning exercises, meaning the most efficient types of exercise that torch the highest number of calories in the shortest amount of time.
In this article, we will take a look at the types of exercise that burn the most calories so that when you’re short on time, you can still make big strides toward your weight loss goals.
We will cover:
- How to Burn More Calories With Exercise
- What Exercise Burns The Most Calories?
Let’s dive in!
How to Burn More Calories With Exercise
Before delving into the most calorie-burning exercises, it’s helpful to discuss how to burn more calories during your workouts.
Any type of physical activity burns calories because the muscles need fuel to contract and do work. This fuel comes from stored carbohydrates (glycogen), blood sugar, and stored fat.
Through different metabolic pathways, such as glycolysis and the Krebs cycle, the muscles can convert these stored-fueled sources into usable cellular energy (ATP).
The number of calories you burn during a workout depends not only on the type of exercise you perform (for example, running vs. walking, cycling vs. yoga, etc.) but also on the intensity and duration of your workout, as well as your body weight.
The more vigorous and physically demanding your workout is, the more calories you will burn. This means that the higher your heart rate gets during the workout, the more intensely you are working and the higher your calorie burn will be per minute.
Intensity can be increased by either moving at a faster pace, using more resistance, or involving more muscle groups at once, as all of these factors increase the energy demand from the muscles.
For example, if you run at 8 miles per hour (7:30 minutes per mile), you will burn more calories per minute than if you run at 5 miles per hour (12 minutes per mile).
If you usually work on an elliptical machine at resistance level 10, you will burn more calories per minute than at a resistance level of 3 as long as you are striding at the same cadence.
Lastly, total-body exercises (running, burpees, jump rope, etc.) that utilize more muscle groups simultaneously will burn more calories per minute than isolated exercises (bicep curls, canoeing, etc.).
What Exercise Burns The Most Calories?
As mentioned, the number of calories you burn during a workout depends on numerous factors, but one of them is the type of exercise you do. So, what exercise burns the most calories? Let’s see!
Below, we’ve created a table that you can use to see approximately how many calories you will burn doing each of the best calorie-burning exercises for 30 minutes.
We used METs values for the exercises from the Compendium of Physical Activities and chose exercises that burn the most calories.
Then, we used the METs for the activity to determine how many calories you will burn doing 30 minutes of exercise at different body weights.
Calories Burned For Different Types of Exercise:
|Exercise Activity||METS||Calories Burned In 30 Minutes for 120 Pound (54.5 kg) Person||Calories Burned In 30 Minutes for 150 Pound (68.2 kg) Person||Calories Burned In 30 Minutes for 180 Pound (81.8 kg) Person||Calories Burned In 30 Minutes for 200 Pound (90.9 kg) Person||Calories Burned In 30 Minutes for 220 Pound (100 kg) Person||Calories Burned In 30 Minutes for 260 Pound (118.2) Person|
|Elliptical trainer, moderate effort||5||143||179||215||239||263||310|
|Boxing on a punching bag||5.5||157||197||236||262||289||341|
|Resistance training (weight lifting, free weights, nautilus or universal), powerlifting or bodybuilding, vigorous effort||6||172||215||258||286||315||372|
|Rowing (erg), moderate effort||6||172||215||258||286||315||372|
|Basketball games or vigorous play||6.5||186||233||279||310||341||403|
|Cross-country skiing, 2.5 mph, slow or light effort, ski walking||6.8||195||243||292||325||357||422|
|Walking, 4.5 mph, level, firm surface, very, very brisk||7||200||251||301||334||368||434|
|Rowing, stationary, 100 watts, moderate effort||7||200||251||301||334||368||434|
|Active video games such as Dance Dance Revolution, vigorous||7.2||206||258||309||344||378||447|
|Rollerblading, in-line skating, 14.4 km/h (9.0 mph), recreational pace||7.5||215||269||322||358||394||465|
|Step aerobics, vigorous||7.5||215||269||322||358||394||465|
|Health club/gym exercises conditioning classes (aerobics, cardio, general conditioning)||7.6||217||272||326||363||399||472|
|Circuit training, including kettlebells, some aerobic movement with minimal rest, vigorous intensity||8||229||286||344||382||420||496|
|Ultimate frisbee, competitive games||8||229||286||344||382||420||496|
|Calisthenics (e.g., push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, jumping jacks), vigorous effort||8||229||286||344||382||420||496|
|Running, 5 mph (12 min/mile)||8.3||237||297||356||396||436||515|
|Swimming, front crawl, medium speed, 50 yards/min, vigorous||8.3||237||297||356||396||436||515|
|Rowing, stationary, 150 watts, vigorous effort||8.5||243||304||365||406||446||527|
|Spin bike class workout||8.5||243||304||365||406||446||527|
|Stair climbing, fast pace||8.8||252||315||378||420||462||546|
|Jumping Rope, slow pace, < 100 skips/min, 2-foot skip, rhythm bounce||8.8||252||315||378||420||462||546|
|Stationary Cycling, 101-160 watts, vigorous effort||8.8||252||315||378||420||462||546|
|Cross country, 4.0-4.9 mph, moderate speed, and effort||9||258||322||387||430||473||558|
|Running, 5.2 mph (11.5 min/mile)||9||258||322||387||430||473||558|
|StairMaster or Stair Climber machine||9||258||322||387||430||473||558|
|Treading water, vigorous||9.8||280||351||421||468||515||608|
|Running, 6 mph (10 min/mile)||9.8||280||351||421||468||515||608|
|Rollerblading, in-line skating, 17.7 km/h (11.0 mph), moderate pace, exercise training||9.8||280||351||421||468||515||608|
|Snow shoeing, vigorous effort||10||286||358||429||477||525||621|
|Swimming, front crawl, fast 75 yards/min||10||286||358||429||477||525||621|
|Outdoor bicycling, 14-15.9 mph, fast, vigorous effort||10||286||358||429||477||525||621|
|Martial arts, vigorous effort||10.3||295||369||442||492||541||639|
|Slide board exercises||11||315||394||472||525||578||683|
|Running, 7 mph (8.5 min/mile)||11||315||394||472||525||578||683|
|Stationary Cycling, 161-200 watts, vigorous effort||11||315||394||472||525||578||683|
|Running, 8 mph (7.5 min/mile)||11.8||338||422||507||563||620||732|
|Jumping Rope, moderate pace, 100-120 skips/min, general, 2-foot skip, plain bounce||11.8||338||422||507||563||620||732|
|Rowing, stationary, 200 watts, very vigorous effort||12||343||430||515||573||630||745|
|Outdoor bicycling, 16-19 mph, very fast, vigorous effort||12||343||430||515||573||630||745|
|Rollerblading, in-line skating, 21.0 to 21.7 km/h (13.0 to 13.6 mph), fast pace, exercise training||12.3||352||440||528||587||646||763|
|Jumping rope vigorously, 120-160 skips/min||12.3||352||440||528||587||646||763|
|Cross-country skiing, 5.0-7.9 mph, brisk speed, vigorous effort||12.5||358||448||537||597||656||776|
|Running, 9 mph (6.5 min/mile)||12.8||366||458||550||611||672||794|
|Mountain biking, vigorous, uphill||14||401||501||601||668||735||869|
|Stationary Cycling, 201-270 watts, very vigorous effort||14||401||501||601||668||735||869|
|Outdoor bicycling, > 20 mph, racing, not drafting||15.8||452||566||679||754||830||980|
|Mountain biking racing||16||458||573||687||764||840||993|
Keep in mind that any type of exercise can support your weight loss goals, so pick an activity you enjoy, and be sure to push the intensity to maximize your calorie burn.
We have endless fitness guides to choose from to help guide you even more on your weight loss journey. You can check them out here.