which exercise burns most calories

What exercise burns the most calories?

Let’s face it – we are all time poor playing the many roles of life. Whether it is mother, father, son, daughter, friend or colleague, our lives appear busier every year with limited time left for ourselves. Getting your bang for buck has never been more important.

So, you’ve made the decision to look after yourself and have committed to training. What type of exercise should you do with your limited time, and why?

We all have varying objectives for our training. Some want to build muscle, some want to lose weight, and others are simply looking increase their health and well-being. This case, you simply want to utilize your time and get bang for your buck, so here are some options for you!


HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING – Halve your training time, double your burnt calories


That’s right, with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) you can halve the time you train whilst still getting benefits. High-intensity interval training involves repeatedly exercising at a high intensity for 30 seconds to several minutes, separated by one–five minutes of recovery (either at rest or low-intensity exercise).

The intense work periods are performed at 80 percent to 95 percent of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate. The recovery periods may last as long as the work periods and are usually performed at 40 percent to 50 percent of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate. The routine continues with the alternating work and relief periods totaling 20 to 60 minutes.

The joy of HIIT exercise is the various types of exercise you can use. HIIT workouts can include cycling, walking, swimming, aqua training, elliptical cross training and be done within functional exercise classes.

Not only is it fun, you burn more calories during and post-workout producing hormones such as growth hormone, adrenaline, nor-adrenaline and others stimulating fat oxidation. This causes increased calorie burn for up to 24 hours after your workout than you normally would within a steady-state workout (moderate intensity).

This post-exercise period is called “EPOC,” which stands for “excess post exercise oxygen consumption”. This is generally about a two-hour period after an exercise bout where the body is restoring itself to pre-exercise levels and thus using more energy. Because of the vigorous contractile nature of HIIT workouts, the EPOC generally tends to be modestly greater, adding about six to 15 percent more calories to the overall workout energy expenditure.

When compared to six weeks of steady state exercise, high intensity training has been shown to improve initial fitness with training for only for 3 hours a week for 2 weeks.  In addition it increases fat oxidation rates, along with aerobic capacity, with weight loss said to come from fat stores rather than burning muscle itself (Talanian, Galloway, Heigenhauser, Bonen, & Spriet, 2007).

Additional research supporting this concept states as little as 3 HIIT sessions per week for three weeks, involving less than 10 minutes of intense exercise within a time commitment of less than 30 minutes per session, can improve aerobic capacity, skeletal muscle oxidative capacity, and exercise tolerance.  (Gillen & Gibala, 2014)

Just a word of warning, HIIT workouts are more demanding than steady state workouts (moderate intensity), so if you are just adding them to your program start with one per week (with your other workouts being moderate intensity), and build it up as you feel fit.

What exercise type will burn the most calories?


Great, you’ve done your HIIT class for the week and want a different type of session with ultimate value. Let’s look at which exercise burns the most calories.

  • Cycling – Yes that’s right, cycling for an hour can burn up to 1000 calories (max intensity). Not to mention it’s a low impact exercise with less stress placed on your joints, good cardiovascular workout too! #Hearthealth
  • Skipping – Said to burn up to 850 calories within one hour for men and 750 for women, and something you could possibly do with the kids!
  • Surfing – If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach start hitting those waves. Being highly beneficial for strength and stability, surfing burns big calories within a short amount of time. Learn to surf lessons can be great fun and are readily available along all coastal areas.
  • Body Weight Exercises – Half an hour of body-weight exercises like pushups and pullups burn 167 calories if you weigh 155 pounds, and 200 calories if you weigh 185 pounds. Perform these at a more vigorous intensity and you can burn 298 calories at 155 pounds and 355 calories at 185 pounds.
  • Running – Last but not least burning roughly 600 calories per hour for a female (pending weight and height), this is also said to be good for reducing stress and depression.


So there you have it, no excuses now – some of the biggest calorie burners are enjoyable, some you don’t have to do for that long! Vary your exercise to keep things fresh, and most of all remember success within you generates success around you.

Note: Energy expended or calories burned during exercise are influenced by body weight, workout intensity, conditioning level and metabolism. Thus the above levels will vary from person to person.

To find out how to get more out of your body, contact your local accredited exercise professional.


Blog contributor bottom banner_Kelly Ashton



American College Sports Medicine –  http://www.acsm.org/public-information/brochures-fact-sheets/fact-sheets

Gillen, J. B., & Gibala, M. J. (2014). Is high-intensity interval training a time-efficient exercise strategy to improve health and fitness? Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 39(3), 409-412. doi:10.1139/apnm-2013-0187

Talanian, J. L., Galloway, S. D., Heigenhauser, G. J., Bonen, A., & Spriet, L. L. (2007). Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women. J Appl Physiol (1985), 102(4), 1439-1447. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01098.2006