Moving in any way burns calories but sometimes a busy life calls for workouts that pack more of a punch. We’re rounding up the top five workouts to try that burn the most calories in the least amount of time.
We asked Jeanine Detz, fitness expert and deputy editor of SHAPE Magazine, to share her picks for the fastest ways to torch calories. “To burn the maximum number of calories in the minimum amount of time, focus on getting your heart rate up to a point where it’s challenging to talk, even if it’s just for a few seconds at a time,” she advises. “It’s also important to do movements that use the largest muscles in your body, namely those in your legs and butt.”
Tabata is all about working really hard (as in you can’t breathe and want to fall down hard) for short bursts. “To do it, sprint or perform a high-intensity exercise like burpees for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and then repeat for a total of four minutes,” explains Detz. In doing so you’ll burn 54 calories, according to a recent study at Auburn University. “The only catch is that during those 20 second intervals, you need to be working at an all-out effort, which makes it tough to do Tabata for very long.”
Bet on battle ropes
Want to sculpt your arms, shoulders, and back while you’re blasting fat? Detz suggests getting acquainted with battle ropes, those thick, heavy ropes at the gym. “A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that swinging heavy ropes for 10 minutes burns 112 calories.” If you’re not sure what to do with battle ropes, we have some tips here.
If you travel a lot, Detz recommends always bringing along a jump rope or your running shoes. “Think of either as a portable cardio machine,” she says. “Jogging at a 6 mph pace or jumping rope torches 11.5 calories a minute, so if you do either activity for 20 minutes you’ll burn 230 calories.” If you can’t keep it up that long try doing 10 minutes in the morning and another 10 in the evening for the same burn. Talk about a quick, on-the-go calorie burn — sign us up.
To increase the calorie burn of your strength workout, make it a circuit. This means simply moving from one exercise to the next without resting in-between, explains Detz. “Studies show that this type of workout burns nine calories a minute, nearly 30 percent more than you’d torch if you took a break between each strength exercise.” If you want to up the intensity even more, Detz recommends jumping rope or doing another challenging cardio move between each strength exercise.
Hot for HIIT
Maximize the calorie burn of any cardio workout by incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT). To do it, push yourself at a hard effort level (Detz recommends seven or higher on a scale of 1 to 10) for 30 seconds to two minutes. Then move at a moderate intensity (about a five on a scale of 1 to 10) for about the same time and repeat. “Research shows that this type of workout increases your aerobic fitness level, burns more calories than exercising at a steady, moderate intensity; and may help reduce abdominal fat.”