The sun is out and the beach is calling. Swimsuit season is here, and it should be a time to rejoice and celebrate the warm weather. However, it also tends to be a time of stress. Why? Because while the weather can change at the drop of the hat, transforming into your beach body isn’t always so instant. And when it comes to getting bathing suit savvy, cutting calories is one of the biggest obstacles.
But fear not, warm weather wanderers! There are some killer exercises out there that burn the most calories and get the best results. In fact, there are workout staples that can burn up to 500 calories, or more, in just a couple sessions.
Of course, there are many scam workouts claiming to help you burn even more. And keep in mind different body types burn calories at different rates. (Even though one pound of fat is cumulative to 3,500 calories, weight and age play a factor in how those calories are burned.) So, we did a little research to find the best results. Using Breaking Muscle’s calorie-burning chart as our guide, we scoured the internet to find the most well-received workouts. Here are 15 that will help you burn 500 calories or more — just in time for swimsuit season.
We aren’t talking about that social spin class in the comfortable confines of your neighborhood gym (which actually doesn’t burn as many calories as you think). Going on an outdoor bike ride, however, is a great way to burn beaucoup calories. Bicycling.com reports pedaling at about 13 to 14 miles per hour — no coasting — for an hour can burn around 500 calories.
Adding on some resistance, maybe even with some varied terrain, can up the number of calories you melt off. Not to mention, cycling is great for toning your leg muscles, which coordinates well with wearing shorts and skirts in those warm temperatures.
2. Rock climbing
Rock climbing might seem like one of those fancy workout fads, but it is actually an incredible all-body workout that is great when it comes to making calories cry. In fact, Life by Daily Burn says climbers that limit their rests between routes can burn beyond 500 calories in an hour. Cosmopolitan breaks that down further, suggesting climbers can “burn about 454 calories per hour on [their] way up and 284 per hour on [their] way down.” In addition, climbing is a full-body workout, sure to tone and build muscles in every part of your body.
3. Water aerobics
Yes, you read that properly. The exercise probably most associated with the senior citizen brigade is a calorie killer. The trick here is to spend a little extra time in the water. Why? Because working out in the pool is built-in resistance training, which works various muscles groups at the same time. FitDay clocks water aerobics at burning roughly 280 calories an hour. Mixing that with some extra pool time — a 560-calorie-per-hour water jog perhaps? — will get you in tip-top beach shape in no time. (This website is worth a look if you are interested in how many calories most water-based activities burn.)
4. Interval training
From a beginners circuit to a hardcore CrossFit regimen, there is no better calorie cutter than interval training. It’s also the workout solution for those individuals out there who don’t feel they have the time for a long, intense workout on a regular basis. WebMD says, instead of a long, arduous cycling workout at the gym, “2.5 minutes should be divided into five 30-second sprint intervals, each followed by a four-minute period of light, resistance-free pedaling. All told, that is less than 25 minutes, during which you will burn more calories than if you did 30 minutes of moderate cycling.”
No, no — there’s no need to find the nearest lake and hop into a boat to get in a good rowing workout. (Although, let’s be honest, it is fantastic exercise.) The rowing machine at your go-to gym is, as you might imagine, one of the most misused machine around. But when used properly, a rowing routine works up a sweat and combats calories. The Houston Chronicle’s Living Healthy section tackles the ins and outs of rowing’s many benefits, including calorie burn. The publication says, “Rowing at a moderate pace for 30 minutes burns about 210 calories for a 125-pound individual and 311 calories for a 185-pound individual. For vigorous rowing, those numbers are 255 and 377, respectively.”
Packing a punch also means pounding calories into submission, making boxing a high-octane exercise worthy of your pre-beach body workout. AZCentral.com broke down sparring with a partner: “Sparring burns 800, 670, and 540 calories per hour in 185-, 155- and 125-pound people.” Even punching a bag is a good option. So essentially, for a full-body regimen, boxing should be mixed with a cardio-based exercise like running to achieve maximum weight-loss success. But there is no denying the calorie crunching that a couple rounds in the ring can do.
Wonder why dancers have amazing physiques that you can’t get from an at-home workout? Because taking a dance class where you don’t have the option of pausing a how-to video helps burn calories. In fact, taking a class — whether it be contemporary jazz or ballroom — is comparable to running. The Daily Mail reported scientists found “a 30-minute street, swing, or contemporary dance class could be more beneficial to your waistline than enduring that time in the gym.”
Plus, dance is excellent cardiovascular exercise, on top of being a great way to boost endorphins. So it will work your heart, improve your mindset, and help you lose weight. Not a bad deal.
8. Climbing stairs
Believe it or not, there really is something to the term “take the stairs.” Now that being said, the StairMaster at the gym can only give you an OK workout. (Besides, the calorie counters on machines are quite inaccurate.) But getting outside and upping the endurance level is a calorie’s worst nightmare. Climbing multiple flights can reportedly burn upwards of 83 calories in five minutes for a person weighing in at 140 pounds. Just think of what kind of work can be done in a half hour or more of climbing.
9. Jumping rope
It may come as a surprise, but this schoolyard-style routine is a calorie killer like no other. Sure, it can’t obliterate all of those calories on its own. However, as part of a circuit workout, jumping rope can pull its weight while also toning every part of your body. Shape observes that it is possible to “burn more than 200 calories in two 10-minute sessions each day (that’s 1,000 calories a week).” Those stats make this workout appear to be a really good bet for someone that doesn’t have time to get to the gym. All it takes is having a jump rope on hand at home so you can crank out some workout time in the garage.
Surely you already knew swimming can get you into colossal shape. Just look at how svelte those Olympic swimmers are! This headlining water sport goes beyond the aqua-aerobics further up on this list, however — it’s one of the main calorie-burning exercises that all others are compared to. The fact of the matter is, swimming is cardio mixed with resistance training. However, you will have to keep up a steady pace to burn the most calories, with Health reporting that lap swimming is what it takes to burn just shy of 500 calories per hour.
11. Go for a hike
In addition to being great for clearing your head and getting you in touch with the outdoors, hiking is a calorie-hunter. This full-body — and often full-day — workout clocks in at an average 530 calories per hour, according to Health. The same article suggests throwing in more aerobic activity into the hike, like lunges or swinging from tree trunks, for a bigger calorie burn. “When you finish the exercises and continue along the trail, walking at a good pace, you’ll burn up to 25% more calories for the next several minutes,” exercise physiologist and hike leader Franci Cohen told the site. “What’s more, throwing in spurts of extra exercise can bump up your burn to a whopping 600 calories an hour.”
12. Martial arts
Martial arts are a major threat to the calorie, with its many forms working as an all-body exercise mechanism. FitnessForWeightloss.com explains: “You can burn 360–955 calories during 30 minutes of martial arts. It depends on how much you weigh and how hard you exercise.” The site then estimates how many calories you can burn in 30 minutes of judo, jujitsu, karate, or taekwondo, based on weight. And trust us, anyone can burn more than 500 calories per hour with these regimens in their workout arsenal.
13. Racket sports
There is a good reason professional tennis players look the way they do. The sport they play for a living burns through a ton of calories. But really, any sports including a racket will do. (The Holabird workout blog claims playing a game of squash can burn up to 816 calories per hour!) Racket sports are great for your heart and exceptional at toning your leg muscles. Plus, you will be so busy focusing on your game you might forget you are exercising.
14. Running outdoors
There is a good reason that every other calorie-burning exercise out there compares itself to running — because there are few others that can burn the same amount of calories per hour. Now, like with most exercises involving a machine, running on the treadmill doesn’t burn as much as their counters claim they do. Getting a run in outside, however, is a whole different story. The resistance that comes from running on varied terrain, added to the boosted heart rate from being out of the comfort zone — i.e., indoors on the treadmill — make for the most killer workout.
Is this a niche type of workout? It most certainly is. But if you are someone who is stuck in the snow before jetting off to the beach, then you might as well indulge in this calorie-crunching activity. And this doesn’t have to be a pre-swimsuit season workout either, as the Telegraph pinpoints skiing as a good way to get a workout in while on vacation in Europe. As they reveal via health insurance site Bupa UK, “Moderate downhill skiing burns up, on average, 400 calories an hour, while uphill cross-country skiing can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour.”
A few final tips …
Surely you’ve heard that you can’t lose weight on just exercise alone. And it’s true — a workout regimen has to be followed by good eating habits in order to truly be successful. Strength and conditioning coach Tom Kelso explains via Breaking Muscle that in order to have the most successful workout, you have to burn more than you consume. “Knowing that calorie intake is paramount in the fat loss goal, what type and amount of exercise can you add to the equation? Exercise helps, but it remains significant relative to fat loss. All things considered, the old adage is true. You cannot out-exercise a poor diet.”