These Exercises Burn a Ton of Calories in a Short Amount of Time

Not all of us are built for marathon running or long bike rides. And a busy life calls for abbreviated workouts that blast calories fast. While we can’t promise a miracle, you can definitely torch some serious calories in a half hour or less. These exercises will get you fit in no time, ranked from the least to most calories burned in 30 minutes.

19. Supersets

The Rock does superset weight training.

Actor Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, is known for his insane superset workouts. | TheRock via Instagram

  • Calories burned: 7.5 calories/minute

This form of circuit training incorporates two kinds of exercise with no rest in between. Perform each move and only rest once you’ve finished a full round. Try this superset workout, courtesy of PopSugar. Do each combo three times before moving on to the next, resting for one minute between each.

Next: Snow-lovers, this one is for you.

18. Cross-country skiing

Pippa Middleton cross-country skis.

Pippa Middleton participates in a 33-mile cross-country ski race in Norway. | Geir Olsen/Birken

  • Calories burned: 8.3 calories/minute

Unlike downhill skiing where a lift takes you to the top of the mountain, cross-country skiing is performed on relatively flat ground. ThoughtCo reports you can expect to burn 400 to 500 calories per hour if you’re going at a pace of 2.5 miles per hour and you’re 150 pounds.

Next: Join the “crew” doing this water-inspired workout.

17. Rowing

A rowing picture of Jason Stathem

Actor Jason Stathem loves rowing to stay in shape. | JasonStathem via Instagram

  • Calories burned: 8.3 calories/minute

Whether you’re on the water or a machine, this full-body exercise is a serious workout. Anna Cummins, a master rowing instructor, tells Shape to do this workout by setting the rowing machine’s damper — the device on the side that controls your drag — between three and five. Then, select pace mode. Row for nine minutes, stretch, then complete nine more minutes. SFGate reports a 150-pound person can burn between 500 and 600 calories an hour at a moderate to vigorous pace.

Next: Don’t let an incline intimidate you.

16. Hill sprints

Jessica Alba

Actress Jessica Alba loves incline workouts on her treadmill. | JessicaAlba via Instagram

  • Calories burned: 8.3 calories/minute

If you don’t love long runs, try hill intervals instead. Runner’s World outlines a strong example, which calls for a 40- to 80-meter hill (if you’re on a treadmill, add an incline and aim to run for 10- to 20-second intervals).

Run up the hill at 50% of your maximum speed, then jog back down, and do this five times. Next, run up the hill at 80% of your max speed and back down two to three times. Finally, sprint up the hill as fast as you can once, and jog back down. Repeat the sequence 10 to 20 times to burn about 250 calories (if you weigh about 150 pounds).

Next: This simple exercise requires no equipment and burns nearly 500 calories.

15. Stair-climbing

woman running up stairs

Climbing up the stairs has benefits. | iStock.com/lzf

  • Calories burned: 9.2 calories/minute

Climbing stairs is “one of the best-kept secrets in preventative medicine,” Dr. Harvey Simon tells The New York Times. Even walking up a flight at a slow speed will burn two to three times as many calories as walking briskly on flat terrain. If you have access to a stair-stepper machine, you can even incorporate interval training into your climbs. This guide from Self is a good way to begin.

Next: You’ll be one with nature after this workout.

14. Rock climbing

rock climbing

Rock climbing is a killer workout. | iStock.com

  • Calories burned: 10 calories/minute

You’ll mostly work your arms, back, chest, shoulders, and core when you engage in this intense sport. Whether you climb up a 40-foot wall utilizing a harness or test your stamina on sloped bouldering surfaces, a 150-pound person can torch between 500 and 900 calories in an hour, according to Life by Daily Burn.

Next: Jumping burns more calories than you think.

13. Plyometrics

crossfit class practicing box jumps

Plyometrics will surely get your heart pumping. | iStock.com

  • Calories burned: 10 calories/minute

Plyometrics, also called jump training, includes explosive movements like jumping jacks, jumping rope, and box jumps. The Huffington Post details the box jump: Place a sturdy box in front of you. Sink into a squat, and then swing your arms forward to propel yourself onto the top of the box. Lower yourself back down, holding your hands out for balance, and repeat as many jumps as you can for 30 seconds. A 135-pound person can burn up to 10 calories in a minute.

Next: Try out something new with this exercise.

12. Martial arts

Judo and kickboxing are involved in Halle Berry's daily life.

Actress Halle Berry loves Judo and kickboxing. | HalleBerry via Instagram

  • Calories burned: 10 calories/minute

One-on-one sports like karate, kickboxing, or taekwondo require a lot of energy; competing against another person will keep you on your toes the whole time. A 150-pound participant can burn 300 calories in 30 minutes.

Next: You can do this exercise right in your living room.

11. Burpees

Fit woman doing full plank core exercise

Burpees are great for weight loss. | iStock.com/undrey

  • Calories burned: 10 calories/minute

You’re likely familiar with this effective move. You squat down to your push-up position, perform the push-up, jump your feet back in, and launch yourself up for one rep. Health says this exercise burns 10 calories per minute if you weigh 155 pounds. If you’re up for a challenge, try a variation.

Next: An added perk of this workout is the great outdoors.

10. Backpacking

The bottom of a hiking shoe on a rope bridge

Hiking with a heavier pack will get you far. | Philipp Guelland/Getty Images.

Calories burned: 10.6 calories/minute

A light hike gets you moving, but walking with a heavy pack incorporates cardio and strength training into your workout. You can start small with a mile or two of hiking and add on distance and elevation as you strengthen your legs, back, and core.

Next: Slow down to speed up your calorie burn.

9. Running intervals

woman running

This exercise is sure to get your heart pumping. | iStock.com/lzf

  • Calories burned: 10.7 calories/minute

Alternating between running and sprinting is easier to track on a treadmill, but you can do it outside, too. Created by Taylor Ryan, C.P.T., this running/sprinting plan can burn up to 500 calories in 30 minutes. Ryan says to try a “comfortable run” in place of the three-minute treadmill portion and go “uncomfortably fast/on the verge of a full out sprint” for the shorter bursts.

Next: Hop on the weight-loss train with this workout.

8. Spinning

men in a spin class

Spin class will give you a real challenge. | iStock.com

  • Calories burned: 11.1 calories/minute

Whether you hop on a stationary bike or take a spin class, a 150-pound person can burn 500 calories in 45 minutes (pedaling at a moderate intensity). If you opt for a class, however, expect that number to skyrocket; Byrdie says the average person burns between 500 and 700 calories during one 45-minute SoulCycle session. (Keep in mind a more “leisurely” spin class won’t give you the same calorie burn!)

Next: You may feel silly but you’ll burn major calories.

7. Rollerblading

Roller skating

Whether you’re rollerskating or rollerblading, your legs will get worked. | Ridofranz/ Getty Images

  • Calories burned: 11.4 calories/minute

The 1960s and ’70s may have been the heyday for rollerblading, but you can bring back this retro sport to tone your butt, legs, and core. Whether on sidewalks or at a rink, don’t count out this sport.

Next: Joint problems? This one’s for you.

6. Swimming

Michael Phelps

You don’t need to swim as intensely as Michael Phelps to get the benefits of this sport. | Clive Rose/Getty Images

  • Calories burned: 11.7 calories/minute

This summertime activity is a major calorie killer. Fortunately, many gym pools and public facilities are open year-round. To torch fat, try swimming vigorously for 13 minutes, moderately for 19 minutes, or doing water aerobics for 33 minutes. Everyday Health explains a 150-pound person can burn about 350 calories during those time spans.

Next: This move isn’t as hard as climbing a mountain.

5. Mountain climbers

man in the bottom phase of a push-up in an empty room

Mountain climbers are tough, but worth it. | iStock.com

  • Calories burned: 12 calories/minute

This full-body workout is great for your core. To start, get into a plank position with arms extended. Then, bend your left knee and bring it toward your chest, and swiftly bring it back. Do the same on the right side. Once you get the hang of the motion, move as quickly as you can with proper form, like you’re running in place.

AZCentral.com says you can expect to burn about 50 calories for every three sets of 15 to 20 reps, depending on your speed. To burn even more calories, try a few variations.

Next: Swing it like Serena to burn calories fast.

4. Tennis (singles)

Serena Williams at the 2015 Wimbledon Championships

Tennis players like Serena Williams are known for their muscular, lean physiques. | Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

  • Calories burned: 12.1 calories/minute

You don’t need to work as hard as Roger or Venus, but grabbing a racket and running around a tennis court will get you in shape fast. Singles tennis involves much more movement than doubles since it’s just you against your opponent.

Next: Toss the pigskin like an NFL player.

3. Flag football

Flag football players

This workout is surprisingly efficient. | Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

  • Calories burned: 12.1 calories/minute

No wonder those pro footballers are in such good shape; they burn a lot of calories. Get a group together to play a vigorous game of flag football and you can enjoy an intense cardio workout.

Next: When was the last time you tried this childhood activity?

2. Jumping rope

jumping rope

Jumping rope is hard work. | iStock.com

  • Calories burned: 13.5 calories/minute

You probably don’t remember just how hard it is to sustain jumping for 10 minutes at a time. Fitness suggests trying this short workout to feel the burn. You’ll do regular jumps, double hops, side-to-side jumps, and running in place. A 150-pound person can burn around 135 calories in 10 minutes.

Next: Going for 20-second bursts can benefit your body in amazing ways.

1. Tabata training

people in a pilates class

Tabata training is incredibly tough. | iStock.com

  • Calories burned: 15 calories/minute

What the heck is Tabata? This form of high-intensity interval training is a major calorie-burner. In this routine, you’ll do eight rounds of intervals, each consisting of 20 seconds on, followed by 10 seconds off, says Bodybuilding.com. You’ll pick one movement — burpees and mountain climbers can be incorporated here — and do this for 20 seconds. Take a 10-second break, then move on to another high-intensity movement. By the time four minutes is over, you should feel winded.

The American Council on Exercise even conducted a study on Tabata-style workouts. Participants in the study completed a five-minute warm-up followed by four rounds of Tabata and burned between 240 and 360 calories each. Sounds effective to us.

Taryn Brooke also contributed to this story.

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