What Exercises Burn the Most Calories?

What Exercises Burn the Most Calories?

At some point or another, everyone embarking on a fitness journey will grapple with one fundamental question: Which exercises burn the most calories? It's a really important question because, with a limited amount of time in a day, ensuring that every sweat drop counts becomes essential. 

The fitness arena is vast, with various exercises, but some stand out more than others for the best calorie burn. So, before you get started with building your exercise routine, let’s talk about the best exercises for burning the highest number of calories.

What Factors Affect Calorie Burn? 

Each time you tie your sneakers and gear up for a workout, it's essential to recognize that various elements play into how many calories you shed.


It's no surprise that the vigor you put into a workout heavily impacts the calorie burn. HIIT, which is an acronym for high-intensity interval training, epitomizes this concept. By interspersing short bouts of high-energy exercises with rest periods, you're challenging your body to work at maximum capacity. 

Not only that, but HIIT workouts enable the “afterburn effect,” which can help you burn calories after you’re done with your workout. 


While a high-intensity workout might make you feel like you've burned a week's worth of calories, the length of time you spend exercising is equally crucial. Consistency and duration can often outpace intensity when you’re looking to burn a lot of calories. 

For instance, a serene 90-minute walk in nature might burn more calories in total than a grueling 15-minute HIIT workout.


The way that your body burns calories is directly tied to the effort your body has to exert. Heavier individuals generally expend more energy for the same activity compared to their lighter counterparts simply because they're moving more weight. 

Thus, the calorie burn for a 250-pound person will differ from someone who weighs 150 pounds, even if they're both doing the same type of exercise.

Which Cardiovascular Exercises Are Best for Burning Calories?

Embarking on a journey towards better health can be both exciting and daunting, especially for beginners. Cardio exercises, also known as aerobic exercises, are often celebrated as the heart and soul of calorie burning. 

These exercises typically play a significant role in many fitness regimes. With a ton of options available, it's essential to understand which ones can be truly transformative.

Jumping rope

Revisit the childhood joy of jumping rope, which doubles as a stellar calorie-burning exercise. This full-body form of exercise emphasizes the legs and core, fusing coordination, agility, and strength. With every skip, you not only challenge your cardiovascular system but also enhance your sense of rhythm and balance. It's a delightful blend of nostalgia and fitness.

How To Do It:

  1. Stand upright, rope behind, holding the handles.
  2. Swing the rope overhead using wrist motions.
  3. As the rope nears your feet, jump just enough to let it pass.
  4. Keep knees slightly bent and posture erect.
  5. Start leisurely, speeding up as you get comfortable.


Unleash raw power with sprinting, a high-impact exercise targeting the lower body. This intense burst of speed doesn't just push your muscles; it challenges your heart rate and lung capacity. Sprinting boosts muscle development, stamina, and metabolic rate. But a word to the wise: proper warm-ups and stretching beforehand are crucial to avoid injury.

How To Do It:

  1. Start with a five-minute gentle jog.
  2. Transition to a vigorous sprint, pushing to your limits.
  3. Continue for 30 seconds or while maintaining the pace.
  4. Slow to a walk or easy jog for recovery.
  5. Repeat intervals as preferred.


Experience the dual delight of exploration and fitness with bicycling. This exercise predominantly focuses on the lower body, particularly the quads, but also engages the core and back muscles. Whether you're cycling through scenic countryside or intense mountain terrains, you're giving your cardiovascular system a solid workout while soaking in the beauty around you.

How To Do It:

  1. Adjust the seat height for almost full leg extension.
  2. Position hands on handlebars and feet on pedals.
  3. Begin with a consistent and moderate pace. 
  4. Adjust resistance or gears for an increased challenge, but retain rhythm.
  5. Breathe evenly; relish the journey.

Rowing machine

The rowing machine encapsulates the magic of compound exercises. It’s a simultaneous upper and lower body workout, activating muscles from your legs to your back and arms. As you pull and release, you're mirroring the action of rowing a boat, providing resistance that challenges both your strength and endurance, making it an all-encompassing fitness tool.

How To Do It:

  1. Start by securing your feet with the foot straps.
  2. Sit tall, arms outstretched, gripping the handles.
  3. Push back using leg strength.
  4. Pull handles towards the chest while leaning back.
  5. Return to start: arms forward, lean in, bend knees.

Elliptical training

Elliptical trainers are a wonderful blend of cardio and muscle toning, offering a potent, low-impact workout suitable for all fitness levels. They simulate the motion of running or stair climbing without the added stress on the joints, ensuring those with knee or ankle issues can work out with ease. As you glide, your arms also get a gentle workout, making it a holistic exercise option.

How To Do It:

  1. Mount the machine, feet on footplates.
  2. Grasp the handles with slightly bent arms.
  3. Begin pedaling, forward or backward as you like.
  4. Ensure heels are always pressed down.
  5. Adjust resistance to challenge yourself during the session.

Stationary bike

Pedal away indoors with stationary bikes, capturing the essence of cycling without leaving your home. Predominantly focusing on the lower body, especially the quads and hamstrings, these machines let you adjust the resistance level, tailoring your workout to your fitness prowess. The seated position also engages the core subtly, promoting proper posture and balance.

How To Do It:

  1. Set the seat height for a slight knee bend at the pedal's lowest point.
  2. Grip the handles, sit, and position your feet on the pedals.
  3. Start pedaling at a steady pace.
  4. Adjust resistance as desired during the session.
  5. Maintain an erect posture throughout.

Which Strength Training Exercises Are Best for Burning Calories?

Strength training exercises are pivotal for calorie burn and building muscle mass. When combined with cardio, they create a holistic fitness approach, enhancing weight loss and promoting overall physical well-being.


Squats are the cornerstone of many fitness regimes, perfect for sculpting the lower body. While they majorly target the quads and glutes, the ripple effect of this exercise touches the hamstrings, calves, and core. Beyond muscle-building, squats also work wonders in enhancing joint flexibility and overall functional fitness.

How To Do It:

  1. Start with feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out.
  2. Extend arms forward or clasp hands together for balance.
  3. Push hips back, bend knees, and lower into a squat, keeping your chest up and back neutral.
  4. Aim to get thighs parallel to the floor.
  5. Push through your heels, engaging the glutes and quads, to return to the starting position.


Take a step forward into the world of lunges, a versatile exercise that packs a punch in leg strength. While the quads, hamstrings, and glutes take center stage, the beauty of lunges lies in their ability to also activate the core, ensuring stability. Whether done stationary or walking, they're essential for better balance and graceful posture.

How To Do It:

  1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step forward with one leg, lowering your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  3. The back knee should hover just above the ground, and the front knee should be directly above the ankle.
  4. Push off the front foot, activating the glutes and hamstrings to return to the starting position.
  5. Alternate legs or complete all repetitions on one side before switching.


Push-ups are the classic go-to for upper body prowess. As you lower and elevate your body, you engage your muscles in the chest, shoulders, and triceps. But that's not all: your core, particularly the obliques and abs, works tirelessly to keep your body aligned, making push-ups a holistic strength-building endeavor.

How To Do It:

  1. Begin in a plank position with your hands planted slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Keeping your body in a straight line from head to heels, bend your elbows, lowering yourself until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  3. Ensure your core remains tight and your hips don’t sag.
  4. Press through the palms, extending your arms to push yourself back to the starting position.


Combine the zest of cardio with the might of strength training, and you get burpees. This high-octane and intense exercise is a full-body workout marvel. From the chest to the legs and core, every major muscle group gets activated. It's not just about muscle activation; burpees are known to shoot up the heart rate, making them a calorie-burning powerhouse.

How To Do It:

  1. Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees, place your hands on the ground, and jump your feet back to land in a plank position.
  3. Execute a push-up, lowering your chest to the ground and then pressing back up.
  4. Jump your feet back towards your hands.
  5. Explode into a jump, reaching your arms overhead, and then land softly to start the next rep.

Kettlebell Swings

Delve into the rhythmic momentum of kettlebell swings, a dynamic exercise that illuminates the posterior chain. The glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core dance in harmony, creating a potent cocktail of strength and endurance. When done in quick succession, kettlebell swings can also morph into a cardiovascular challenge, making every swing count.

How To Do It:

  1. Start with feet slightly wider than hip-width, toes pointed out. Place a kettlebell about a foot in front of you.
  2. Bend at the hips and knees, gripping the kettlebell handle with both hands.
  3. Swing the kettlebell slightly back between your legs.
  4. In a powerful motion, thrust your hips forward, straighten your legs, and swing the kettlebell up to eye level.
  5. Let the weight fall back down, swinging it back between your legs as you hinge at the hips.
  6. Maintain a straight back and tight core throughout the movement.

Tips for Creating an Effective Exercise Routine for Calorie Burn

Your journey towards a fit and healthier version of yourself can be exciting and fulfilling. However, it’s crucial to approach it with wisdom and precision for the best results.

Start with a Warm-up

Starting every workout session with a 10-minute warm-up isn’t just a recommendation — it’s a necessity. A proper warm-up increases blood flow to your muscles, getting them ready for the task ahead. It also helps in improving flexibility, which can further enhance your performance and minimize the chances of potential strain or injury.

Alternate Between Cardio and Strength

The beauty of fitness is its diversity of benefits. Cardio workouts, like brisk walking or cycling, can be fantastic for improving heart health and burning calories in the process. 

On the other hand, strength training exercises like weight lifting aren’t just about building muscle — they also assist in improving bone density and boosting metabolism. By alternating between the two and engaging in circuit training, you’ll not only make your routine more dynamic but you’ll also ensure a comprehensive workout for your entire body.

Consult a Professional

The world of fitness is vast, and while there's an abundance of information out there, nothing beats personalized guidance. A certified personal trainer can offer tailored advice, ensuring your workout aligns with your specific goals and needs. They can pinpoint areas of improvement, introduce new exercises to your routine, and keep you motivated throughout the process.

How Can Diet Help You Burn Calories?

Along with the amount of calories in your diet, the quality and type of food you consume play a pivotal role in determining your energy levels, metabolism rate, and overall health. By incorporating natural, whole foods, you’re setting the stage for optimal health. 

Here at Dr. Kellyann, we emphasize the benefits of foods like bone broths, which are rich in essential nutrients, lean proteins that support muscle health, and a colorful rainbow of vegetables that offer an array of vitamins and minerals. These foods not only nourish your body but can also assist in maintaining a vigorous caloric burn.

The Takeaway

Dedication to exercise is a commendable step towards a healthier lifestyle. With the right combination of cardiovascular and strength training, you lay a strong foundation for holistic health. 

Remember, it’s not just about the physical activities but also what you consume that complements this journey. Whether you’re looking to shed some pounds or just support your health, remember that Dr. Kellyann is here to help every step of the way.


HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Control of Energy Expenditure in Humans | European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Aerobic Exercise: What It Is, Benefits & Examples | Cleveland Clinic

Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier | Mayo Clinic

Warm Up, Cool Down | American Heart Association

Energy Metabolism and Diet | PMC