A lot of modern fitness has dropped the focus on counting calories and measuring fat, in the belief that it is keeping people from undertaking a fitness program. While that is a great philosophy, there is no way to argue that calories in and out are a huge piece of the fitness puzzle. So, even if you aren’t counting the calories going in, finding some extreme calorie burning work outs is a must, so here are 20 exercises that will help you burn 600 calories or more.
All of the calculations are based on me, a 47 year old man, who is 6’1” and 192 pounds. To calculate for yourself take a look at this calorie calculator.
- Running – 1002 Calories/hour
Let’s start out with an obvious one. Running is one of the purest forms of physical activity and a great way to burn calories. When it comes to running, particularly for those who are just getting into it, is to not to focus on your distance. According to Marathoner Budd Coates, “The biggest mistake that new runners make is that they tend to think in mile increments—1 mile, 2 miles, 3 miles. Beginning runners need to think in minutes, not miles.”
It is also important when running to not let yourself tense up, “When running, let your jaw hang loose, don’t bunch up your shoulders close to your ears, and occasionally shake out your hands and arms to stay relaxed,” says Dave Martin, a Ph.D., and exercise physiologist. Don’t focus on how you’re running style looks, focus on what is comfortable and what is going to help you reach your goals.
- Jumping Rope – 876 Calories/hour
Jumping rope is a classic training technique that most of us associate with boxers. It is an aerobic form of working out that also promotes balance and rhythm. Often when people attempt jumping rope for the first time their biggest downfall is their form. To jump properly you should be on the balls of your feet and your knees should be slightly bent and while jumping your heels should never touch the ground. If you jump flat footed, it puts immense stress on your knees and it is more likely to wear you out faster. Don’t lock your knees, stay relaxed and try to create a fluid motion.
- Bikram Yoga – 611 Calories/hour
Bikram is a form of yoga done in an incredibly hot, with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat leads to the extra sweating out of toxins and helps the muscles stay loose and limber. It is an advanced and difficult form of yoga and there are things that need to be kept in mind. The heat is unavoidable and it’s the reason you are doing Bikram in the first place, but it can also be your biggest stumbling block, so show up early and allow yourself to become acclimatized to the heat. This will allow you to focus on the yoga and will help you avoid the possibility of passing out. Don’t focus solely on Bikram, according to expert Lindsay Dahl, “Adding strength training a few times a week has not only helped my overall health but has also improved my practice. It has helped me tone and strengthen the muscle groups not adequately strengthened in the beginning 26 posture series.”
- Cross Fit – Circuit Training – 737 Calories/hour
You often hear that Cross Fit is the exact opposite of Fight Club, in that everyone talks about cross fit! But if you have never tried cross fit you are missing out on an amazing calorie roasting work out. A combination of different element s from Olympic style weight lifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, girevoy sport and calisthenics to name a few, all performed in high intensity interval style circuits. If you look at that definition for Cross Fit, it’s easy to see why one of the best pieces of advice you can get is to ask questions. Make sure that you have as much information as possible so that you are doing each individual move properly. It’s also important to know that it is going to suck. No work out, when you put your all into it, is going to be easy, but when you fully commit to Cross Fit, you need to be prepared to feel it for days after. Cross Fit truly proves the phrase no pain no gain is true.
- Spinning – 611 Calories/hour
Spinning is another group exercise that has risen significantly in popularity over the last ten years and for good reason. At 611 calories an hour, a good spin can be an amazing workout, and one that gets even better when you really know what you’re doing. According to Nichelle Hines of Cycle House, engaging your core while spinning will significantly increase the effectiveness of the work out. “When you’re up and riding out of the saddle, your abdominal strength is what keeps you balanced and suspended above the bike not leaning on the handlebars. The handlebars are there for balance, not to hold you up! That is what your abdominals are for.”
- Zumba – 691 Calories/hour
There’s dancing. There’s working out, and then there’s Zumba. The dance inspired, Latin tinged work out program has swept through the fitness world, creating a buzz with newbies and professionals alike. Constant rhythmic movements designed to work every muscle group are obviously a great work out, but like everything else in the fitness work, it can always be an even more potent work out. Zumba instructor Staci Boyer encourages Zumbites to maximize their arm movements, by fully extending on every move. “It’s not that tricky and you can do a lot for your body by lengthening, raising, and extending with oomph.”
Boyer adds, “Just shake it—and shake it good” Boyer also recommends pressing through your heels whenever you can to maximize the move’s booty shaping benefits.
- Elliptical – 991 Calories/hour
Every gym out there has a row of Elliptical machines right there with all their other cardio equipment. It’s a solid workout and designed to take the pressure off of your joints as it eliminates the impact you feel when running. The key to getting the most out of the elliptical is to not do the same thing every time you climb on the machine. According to Marc Santa Maria of Crunch, “Being creative keeps you from getting bored and phoning it in. See if you can improve your distance or levels of endurance each time you get on the machine. Compete against yourself to get stronger and leaner.”
He also recommends doing 5 minute intervals, increasing and decreasing the resistance in order to increase the potency of your work out.
- Scuba Diving – 645 Calories/hour
Not everything on this list is a hard core gym based work out. There are a ton of “leisure” activities with the potential to burn calories, while also engaging your mind in a very enjoyable activity. Scuba diving is one of those activities. Theresa Kaplan, director of communications for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors points out, “The amazing thing is divers can experience the strengthening benefits of diving without feeling the strain of a typical workout, as they are not sweating profusely as they would with a more traditional fitness regime and are taught to achieve neutral buoyancy, or weightlessness, while underwater. A low-impact sport, diving also offers an exciting alternative to running, biking or other activities that could exasperate knee issues.”
Kaplan also adds that it’s good for your mind as well, “The mind can relax and focus on simple things—fully inhaling and exhaling, making minor adjustments to buoyancy, extending and elongating a kick cycle—all while enjoying amazing marine life.”
That’s not to mention the added calorie burning bonus of hauling your air tanks and regulators.
- Stair Walking/Running – 703+ Calories/hour
Not to be confused with the stair machine at the gym, this activity is real walking with real stairs, and is the perfect work out for anyone working in a large building, who’s looking for a way to torch some calories in their limited break time. In fact, according to PJ Glassey, the CEO of X-Gym in Seattle, just 10 minutes of stair running can burn the same amount of calories as an hour long jog. PJ’s tips for getting the most out of your time on the stairs include, using the railing, “Use the rail going up and down. This gives you an upper body workout as well and keeps your gait in check,” focus on your breathing, “breathe through the nose and out the mouth as long as you can. This will improve your endurance and allow you to push harder,” and double up when you’re ready, “take stairs two at a time if you can. This might seem like its harder, but single stepping actually exerts more energy.”
He also advised that you’re best served just walking up and taking the elevator down, as the downward stair walk puts more pressure on your joints.
- Weight Lifting – 600 Calories/hour
Here’s a fun one, and one that is very contentious in the fitness community. There is a belief among some that weight lifting is for adding muscle and that’s all. Truth be told, that if you lift weights properly and follow the right program, you will burn as many calories as many other forms of cardio. That’s not even taking into account the added metabolism boost you get from building more muscle. “The real key to fat loss is high-intensity exercise, especially strength training — with real weights, real sweat and real effort,” says Jason Stella, the VP of Wellness at Leisure Sports Hospitality.
Stella preaches the need to lift heavy and vigorously. Stella explains, “Muscle contraction is a primary engine of fat loss, the more muscle mass you have to contract, the more calories you can burn. In addition, strength-training workouts that take large muscle groups to a state of burn will increase the release of hormones that aid in reducing body fat.”
Therefore, the more muscle you build the more calories you burn.
There you have 10 amazing ways to burn calories. I’m sure you’re thinking of one or two activities you are sure would fit well into this category. So are we. That’s why you should check back soon for another 10 calorie roasting activities. But between now and then, lace up your shoes, get out there and give a few of these a try. You’ve got nothing to lose but calories.