These Exercises Burn a Ton of Calories in a Short Amount of Time
Not all of us are built for marathons and other extreme forms of exercise. After all, a busy life calls for workouts that blast calories fast. No exercise promises a miracle, but the following super-efficient workouts can torch serious calories in 30 minutes. One exercise even burns 500 calories in no time (page 10).
1. Jumping jacks
- Calories burned: 153 (in 30 minutes)
You don’t need a fancy gym to burn calories. Incorporating jumping jacks into your workout will get your cardiovascular system in tip-top shape. If you weigh 150 pounds, you can burn about 153 calories by doing jumping jacks at a moderate pace, reports HealthStatus.com.
Next: You can do this exercise right in your living room.
- Calories burned: 300 calories
You’re likely familiar with this move. For one rep, squat down, launch your feet back, and land in push-up position. Perform a push-up, then hop your feet back in toward your hands, and jump up for one rep. Health says burpees burn 300 calories in 30 minutes. If you want a challenge, try a variation.
Next: Take this efficient workout one step at a time.
- Calories burned: 276
Burning almost 300 calories in a half hour, stair-climbing is “one of the best-kept secrets in preventative medicine,” reports the New York Times. Even walking up a flight slowly will burn two to three times the calories as walking briskly on flat ground. If you have a stair-stepper, you can even include interval training into climbs. This guide from Self is a good start.
Next: Swing it like Serena to burn calories fast.
4. Tennis (singles)
- Calories burned: 363
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. In 30 minutes, you can torch over 350 calories.
Next: An added perk of this workout is the great outdoors.
Calories burned: 318 calories
A light hike gets you moving, but walking with a 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.
6. Running intervals
- Calories burned: 321 calories
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 interval plan can burn up to 500 calories in 30 minutes. 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: This move isn’t as hard as climbing a mountain.
7. Mountain climbers
- Calories burned: 360 calories
This full-body workout is great for your core. Get into a plank position. Bring your left knee toward your chest, and then swiftly bring it back. Do the same with your right leg. Try to move as quickly as you can with proper form, like you’re running in place. You can burn about 50 calories for three sets of 15 to 20 reps, depending on your speed. To challenge yourself, try a variation.
Next: Don’t let an incline intimidate you.
8. Hill sprints
- Calories burned: 249 calories
If you don’t love long runs, try hill intervals. Runner’s World has a great example, which calls for a 40- to 80-meter hill (on a treadmill, add an incline and aim to run for 10- to 20-second intervals). Run up the hill at 50% of your max speed, then jog back down, and do this five times. Next, run up the hill at 80% of your max speed and jog 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 250 calories in 30 minutes.
Next: When was the last time you tried this childhood activity?
9. Jumping rope
- Calories burned: 405 calories
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: This workout will burn nearly 500 calories in 30 minutes.
10. Tabata training
- Calories burned: 450-500
A form of high-intensity interval training, Tabata involves rounds of intervals; each round is 20 seconds of movement and 10 seconds of rest, explains Bodybuilding.com. Do one exercise, like burpees or mountain climbers, for 20 seconds. Take a 10-second break, then do another high-intensity exercise. After four minutes, you should feel winded.
The American Council on Exercise studied Tabata-style workouts. Participants warmed up for five minutes, then did four rounds of Tabata and burned between 240 and 360 calories each. Sounds effective to us.
Next: Get weighty to lose weight.
- Calories burned: 225 (in 30 minutes)
This form of circuit training involves two exercises with no rest between. Perform each move and only rest once you finish a full round. Try this superset workout, courtesy of PopSugar. Do each combo three times before moving on to the next; rest for one minute between each.
Next: You may feel silly but you’ll burn major calories.
- Calories burned: 342 calories
The ’60s and ’70s were the heydays of rollerblading, but you can bring back this retro sport to tone your butt, legs, and core. Whether on sidewalks or a rink, don’t count out rollerblading; it’ll burn over 300 calories in 30 minutes.
Next: Join the “crew” doing this water-inspired workout.
- Calories burned: 250-300
To maximize this full-body workout, Anna Cummins, a master rowing instructor, tells Shape to set the rowing machine’s damper — the device that controls your drag — between three and five. Row for nine minutes, stretch, then complete nine more minutes. SFGate reports that a 150-pound person can burn between 250 and 300 calories in 30 minutes.
Next: Joint problems? This one’s for you.
- Calories burned: 351
This activity is a major calorie killer. Luckily, many gym pools and public facilities are open year-round. To torch fat, swim vigorously for 13 minutes or moderately for 19 minutes. Or do water aerobics for 33 minutes. Everyday Health explains a 150-pound person burns about 350 calories in a half hour.
Next: Jump around!
- Calories burned: 300 calories
Plyometrics, also called jump training, includes explosive movements like jumping jacks, jumping rope, and box jumps. The Huffington Post explains 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.
Next: One-on-one time that rapidly burns calories
16. Martial arts
- Calories burned: 300 calories
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: Hop on the weight-loss train with this workout.
- Calories burned: 333
On a stationary bike, a 150-pound person can burn 333 calories in 30 minutes (pedaling at a moderate intensity). If you opt for a class, however, that number will skyrocket; the average person burns between 500 and 700 calories during a 45-minute SoulCycle session!
Next: Snow-lovers, this one is for you.
18. Cross-country skiing
- Calories burned: 200-250
Unlike downhill skiing where a lift takes you to the mountaintop, cross-country skiing takes place on
Next: Toss the pigskin like an NFL player.
19. Flag football
- Calories burned: 363 calories
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: You’ll be one with nature after this workout.
20. Rock climbing
- Calories burned: 250-450 calories
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.