These 15 Exercises Burn a Ton of Calories in a Short Amount of Time

We’ve all been there — you get home from work, grab a bag of chips, and pop a serving (or five) into your mouth while you watch TV. It’s easy to think a 30-minute walk will make up for your snack session, but one serving (yes, just one) of Lay’s potato chips is 160 calories. How many calories did your half-hour walk burn? Probably around 150.

Not all of us are built for marathon running or long bike rides. And a busy life calls for an abbreviated workout that blasts calories quickly. While we can’t promise a miracle, you can definitely torch some serious calories in half an hour or less. Here are 15 exercises that will get you fit in no time.

1. Spinning

men in a spin class

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

Calories burned: A 150-pound person can burn 500 calories in 45 minutes. 

Whether you hop on a stationary bike at the gym or take a trendy spin class, you’re in for a serious workout. At a moderate intensity, Livestrong.com reports a 180-pound person will burn about 570 calories in an hour. If you take 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 that this requires you to keep the resistance up on your bike. A more “leisurely” spin class won’t give you the same calorie burn!)

Next: You probably didn’t realize how many calories this exercise burned as a kid.

2. Jumping rope

jumping rope

Jumping rope is hard work. | iStock.com

Calories burned: A 150-pound person can burn 135 calories in 10 minutes. 

You probably don’t remember just how hard it is to sustain these small jumps 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 while turning the rope. In just 10 minutes, you can expect to burn around 135 calories.

Next: Always skip the elevator to take part in this exercise.

3. Stair-climbing

woman running up stairs

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

Calories burned: A 175-pound person can burn 417 calories in 45 minutes. 

Anywhere there’s a set of stairs, there’s potential to burn major calories. In The New York Times, Dr. Harvey Simon writes climbing stairs is “one of the best kept secrets in preventative medicine.” Even if you just walk up a flight at a slow speed, you’ll still burn two to three times as many calories as opposed to walking briskly on flat terrain. If you have access to a stair-stepper machine, you can even try incorporating some interval training into your climbing. This guide from Self is a good way to get started.

Next: Alternating two exercises can give you serious results.

4. Supersets

A woman holding a dumbbell

Doing supersets will give you serious muscle and torch calories. | iStock.com

Calories burned: A 150-pound person can burn 302 calories in 40 minutes.

Supersets are exactly how they sound — a form of circuit training that incorporates two different kinds of exercise, one right after the other, with no rest in between. To do this properly, choose two moves that pair well together and work the same or opposing muscle groups. Perform each set as instructed and only rest once you’ve completed a full round. This superset workout, courtesy of PopSugar, is one to try. Do each combo three times before moving on to the next, resting for one minute between each.

Next: Hit this machine at the gym and burn major calories.

5. Rowing

man on a rowing machine

Try rowing to torch calories. | iStock.com

Calories burned: A 155-pound person can burn 316 calories in 30 minutes. 

Whether you’re on the water or a machine, this all-over body exercise gives you a serious workout. Anna Cummins, a master rowing instructor, tells Shape to start your workout on the rowing machine by setting your damper between three and five (this is the device on the side that controls your drag). Then, select pace mode. Row for nine minutes to start, stretch, then go for an additional nine minutes. SFGate reports a 155-pound person can burn between 520 and 632 calories an hour at a moderate to vigorous pace.

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

6. Burpees

Fit woman doing full plank core exercise

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

Calories burned: A 155-pound person can burn 200 calories in 20 minutes. 

There’s a reason you’re only fitting in a minute or two of burpees into your exercise routine — they’re incredibly difficult. You’re probably familiar with the 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, so see how many you can do in that time. And if you’re really up for a challenge, there are plenty of variations to try.

Next: This move looks simple, but it’s really tough.

7. 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: A 155-pound person can burn 240 calories in 20 minutes. 

This full-body workout is particularly 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 as if you’re running in place. AZCentral.com reports you can expect to burn about 50 calories for every three sets of 15 to 20 reps. The speed at which you do these matters as well. To burn even more calories, try a few variations.

Next: Try varying up your speed throughout your workout.

8. Running intervals

woman running

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

Calories burned: A 150-pound person can burn 320 calories in 30 minutes. 

Created by Taylor Ryan, C.P.T., this running/sprinting plan promises to burn up to 500 calories in 30 minutes — that’s even more calories than the average interval workout. Alternating between running and sprinting is easier to track on the treadmill, but you can still make it work elsewhere. 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: Jumping burns more calories than you think.

9. Plyometrics

crossfit class practicing box jumps

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

Calories burned: A 135-pound person can burn 100 calories in 10 minutes. 

If you didn’t know, jumping burns some serious calories. The fancy word for this movement is plyometrics, also called jump training, which includes explosive movements like jumping jacks, jumping rope, and box jumps. They can all burn up to 10 calories in a minute.

Try the box jump, outlined by The Huffington Post. Get yourself an exercise bench or sturdy box and place it in front of you. Start by sinking into a squat, and then swing your arms forward as you propel yourself out of the squat position and on top of your box or bench. Carefully lower yourself back down, keeping your hands out in front of you for balance, and repeat as many jumps as you can for 30 seconds.

Next: Have joint problems? This one’s for you.

10. Swimming

woman pushing off the wall in a pool

Swimming will torch calories and be light on your limbs. | iStock.com

Calories burned: A 155-pound person can burn 350 calories in 30 minutes. 

That’s right — your favorite summertime activity from your childhood is a major calorie killer. But you don’t need warm weather to do this workout. Many gym pools and public facilities are open year-round. To torch fat and get in an awesome workout, try swimming at a vigorous pace for 13 minutes, at a moderate pace for 19 minutes, or doing water aerobics for 33 minutes. Everyday Health explains all three of these methods can burn 150 calories in no time.

Next: Winter lovers, this one’s for you.

11. Cross-country skiing

man skiing down hill

Cross-country skiing is a serious workout. | iStock.com

Calories burned: A 150-pound person can burn 250 calories in 30 minutes.

Cross-country skiing is one of the most effective ways to burn calories . And if you worry about this being a “winter sport” you’re in luck; locations around the globe offer skiing year-round. (Check out On The Snow for more information on cross-country skiing throughout the seasons.)

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. Keep in mind this is a slow and steady pace — any faster than this, and you can burn even more.

Next: Your upper body will thank you for this one.

12. Rock climbing

rock climbing

Rock climbing is a killer workout. | iStock.com

Calories burned: A 150-pound person can burn 300 calories in 30 minutes. 

Rock climbing is serious business. Whether you’re climbing up a 40-foot wall and utilizing a harness or testing your strength and stamina on sloped bouldering walls, you’re in for a workout that burns mega calories. You’ll primarily work your arms, back, chest, shoulders, and core when you participate in this sport. Life by Daily Burn says you can torch between 500 and 900 calories in an hour.

Next: Don’t be scared of upping that incline for even more calorie burn.

13. Hill sprints

Legs and shoes of four young adults

Hill sprints are really tough. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Calories burned: A 150-pound person can burn 250 calories in 30 minutes. 

If the thought of a long run keeps you from a workout, try your hand at hill intervals instead. This calorie-torching incline run can be done outside or on the treadmill.

Try this workout as outlined by Runner’s World, which calls for a hill that’s about 40 to 80 meters long (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 600 calories.

Next: Try out something new with this exercise.

14. Martial arts

man practicing karate

Karate burns major calories. | Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Calories burned: A 150-pound person can burn 300 calories in 30 minutes. 

If you’ve ever wanted to try out karate or taekwondo, you should know you’ll burn some serious calories. One-on-one sports such as these require a lot of energy expenditure, as competing against another person will keep you on your toes the whole time. Jillian Michaels’ site says a 190-pound person can burn almost 900 calories in one hour with martial arts-related exercises.

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

15. Tabata training

people in a pilates class

Tabata training is incredibly tough. | iStock.com

Calories burned: A 150-pound person can burn 300 calories in 20 minutes. 

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 quite winded.

The American Council on Exercise even conducted a study to find out if Tabata-style workouts are all they’re cracked up to be. 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.

Next: 16 Lies You’ve Been Told About Losing Weight 

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