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Here are the Highest Calorie Burning Exercises to Choose

The following article takes a look at the best movements to choose when you want to use the highest calorie burning exercises. There are many exercises that are available to you when working out from home or the gym. But what are the best options from a high caloric expenditure stand point? We have looked through the research and various articles to bring you that list.

These types of exercises are great individually or when mixed into a circuit or high-intensity training session. Obviously, the heavier the person, the higher the caloric expenditure per minute of exercise. Just a reminder when you look over this and other types of data like this.

Factors Affecting Calorie Burn

There are many factors that go into determining the number of calories someone expends during exercise. Here is a great article on that topic by Robert Robergs, PhD and Len Kravitz, PhD. Here are eight factors, many of which you can manipulate, that will influence your calorie burn.

Bodyweight

Basically, the more you weigh, the greater amount of calories you’ll expend during each minute of exercise. Pretty simple.

Type of Exercise

Cardio-based workouts typically involve higher calorie burning exercises. They usually burn more calories than other types of workouts like strength training or doing yoga. The key word here is intensity. Finally, there can be a different outcome with a well-designed exercise program. See the study, found below, by Falcone and colleagues reporting a HIIT session out performing a cardio workout that involved men as test subjects.

Exercise Intensity

The higher the intensity, the more calories you end up burning per minute. If I can get all exercise physiology on you for a moment…for every liter of oxygen you consume during exercise you expend about 5 calories. Keep in mind, the harder you breathe during activity, the greater the oxygen intake resulting in a higher caloric expenditure. Not to mention an elevated EPOC hours after your exercise is done.

EPOC

Stands for excess post oxygen consumption. The higher the exercise intensity, the higher the “after burn.” Meaning, your body continues to expend calories long after the workout is finished. For this to happen, though, it has to be a very heavy lifting day or a HIT type workout. The intensity needs to be very high during the workout. As in, you couldn’t carry on a conversation because you’re breathing so hard.

Compound Movements

When you perform a total body movement like a deadlift or push press exercise, you’ll burn more calories than say a concentrated biceps curl.

Men Typically Burn More Calories than Women

This is simply a result of most men having a higher percentage of muscle mass than most women. This is not always the case however. Over the years I have run stadium stairs with female Olympic and college athletes. I can attest, some female athletes can out do any guy… it can be a truly humbling experience!

Current Fitness Level

There are many benefits to living a healthy lifestyle. Staying in great shape allows an individual to work harder in their workouts and in turn, elicit a greater calorie burn during exercise.

Your Age

The older the person, the less calories they burn in a given period of time. This is due largely to muscle mass. As we age we lose muscle and this affects metabolic rate and calorie burn.

Highest Calorie Burning Exercises for Short Duration

A Men’s Journal article compared four different activities, using a 5-minute testing period, to rank the highest caloric expenditure.  The four different exercises included: body-weight exercises, jogging, swinging a kettlebell, and jumping rope.  All are great forms of exercises and you need minimal equipment to perform each exercise. They determined jumping rope was number one, when it came to a 5-minute workout, burning 79 calories while the body weight exercises, consisting of push-ups and pull-ups, came in fifth using 51 total calories.

Jumping rope is a great training tool and should be used more prior to a workout. To continue on the topic of jumping rope, it has been reported that 10-minutes of jumping rope is equivalent to jogging for 30-minutes. Interesting numbers, though, especially the kettlebell swings being higher than pushing and pulling your body weight for 5-minutes. This was probably due to the subject getting more total swings with a kettlebell during the 5-minute period.

1st – Jumping Rope (79 calories/5-minutes)

2nd – Swinging a Kettlebell (63 calories/5-minutes)

3rd – Jogging (53 calories/5-minutes)

4th – Push-Up & Pull-Up combo (51 calories/5-minutes)

Men’s Journal

Here are a few great activities that the next study can hopefully look at. Compare the effects of 5-minutes of cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing, jogging up hill, HIIT using a bike or rower, an Assault bike (Schwinn Air-Dyne), Concept 2 Cross-Country Ski, CLMBR, and stadium stair running.

Some of the Highest Calorie Burning Exercises for Longer Duration

There was another report that I came across, with somewhat different results, that looked at calories burn for 10 to 30-minutes of activity. The group used an energy calculator from the American Council on Exercise (ACE). The study did acknowledge that every body is different and while one routine may work well for one person it might not be as efficient for another. Here are the results from that particular study. Keep in mind these numbers were based individuals who weighed only 130-pounds.

1st – Running/Jogging – 206 calories per 30-minutes

2nd – Hiking – 176 calories per 30-minutes.

3rd – Biking/Cycling – 5.5 mph – 117 calories per 30-minutes

4th – Jumping Rope – (fast pace) – 115 calories per 10-minutes*

5th – Walking (moderate pace) – 97 calories per 30-minutes

6th – Weightlifting – 88 calories per 30-minutes

CNET

Obviously, if you are are 200-pound male, these numbers would be significantly higher. Again, the different calorie outputs for jumping rope (for 5 and 10 minutes) most likely, had do to bodyweight and speed of jumping (i.e., pace or rpm or # of toe taps).

In one last article, Harvard Medical School reported calorie burn for over 100 different activities. The group looked at the difference in calorie burn for 30-minutes of activity for 125, 155 and 185-pound individuals. They also did not report if they were men or women, or how much lean muscle they had, so keep that in mind. They just looked at overall bodyweight.

What the Exercise Research Says

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research by Falcone and colleagues, compared the energy expenditure of single exercise sessions using resistance, aerobic, and combined exercise involving the same duration. The test subjects were young, active men. All sessions were 30-minutes. The resistance training session used 75 percent of their 1-RM, the aerobic session, on a treadmill, used 70 percent maximum heart rate. The high-intensity interval session (HIIT) session was done on a hydraulic resistance system (HRS). The HRS workout used intervals of 20-seconds of maximum effort followed by 40-seconds of rest. The HIIT session using the HRS had the highest caloric expenditure of the three workouts. The data suggest that individuals can burn more calories performing HIIT with HRS than spending the same amount of time performing steady-state exercise.

A 2012 study at Colorado State University found that test subjects who worked out on a stationary bike for less than 25 minutes, with just a few sprints mixed in, expended an additional 200 calories a day, due to excess-post oxygen consumption (EPOC) or commonly known as the after-burn effect.

The Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise reviewed interval training. Subjects exercised using high-intensity intervals. The total amount of calories expended one-hour post workout was 107 percent more than low-intensity, short duration exercise. And 143 percent more than with low intensity, long duration exercise! That’s because interval exercise peaking at levels above a 70 percent maximum-intensity effort, speeds up metabolism for up to three hours after exercise – a benefit not found with low-intensity exercise.

Hopefully this article sheds more light on this topic regarding the best exercises to choose when the main interest is high calorie burn.

Stay Strong Together

Join more than 10 million members who have had great success using the Jefit app. The award-winning app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

Michael Wood, CSCS
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