These Are the Best Calorie-Torching Exercises to Do If You Want to Lose Weight

by Tiffany Ayuda
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From Prevention

When you're working out several times a week to get fit and lose weight, you want a routine that offers maximum results in a minimum amount of time. Most people believe that working out for 30 minutes or longer a day is the best way to lose weight, but studies show that shorter bouts of exercise is more effective for fat loss.

But which type of exercise burns more calories? According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, running on a treadmill can burn more calories (25 to 39 percent) than doing kettlebell swings at the same level of exertion. However, the study also suggests that kettlebell work and other forms of strength training can help increase your metabolism, so you burn more fat and calories even during rest.

Whether you like to lift or bang out a bunch of burpees, building muscle is the ultimate key to losing fat and burning calories. Why? Muscles are metabolically active, so they burn calories even when you're not exercising. According to a 2017 study in Obesity, weight training—or resistance training—can help preserve lean muscle mass that's lost through aerobic workouts. That said, the best type of exercise for weight loss is one that combines both cardio and strength and doesn't take too much of your time.

The benefits of interval training

Working out in intervals is one way to reap the benefits of cardio and strength, while maximizing your calorie burn in a short amount of time. Interval workouts involve alternating between short bursts of intense effort and periods of lower intensity or rest. The intensity resets your metabolism to a higher rate during your workout, so it takes hours for your body to cool down again. This is what's known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). That means you burn calories long after you’ve finished your workout compared to doing a workout at a continuous moderate pace (aka LISS), according to a 2017 study from the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

To help you find the a calorie-burning workout that fits your lifestyle and goals, we rounded up the best exercises for weight loss. If you're working out in intervals, do the exercise for 30 seconds every minute and rest for the remainder 30 seconds. As you progress, you can increase your time to 45 seconds and 15 seconds rest and so forth. Remember, you want to be working at your maximum when you're—leaving you out of breath by the end of that interval.

So if you want to implement interval training into your fitness routine to rev up your metabolism, here are the best exercises for weight loss.

Running

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Whether you love or hate it, running is one of the best and simplest ways to burn calories—and you don't need a treadmill to do it. Just lace up your shoes and hit the road. But pounding pavement doesn't have to be a mindless workout. Running in intervals—speeding up and slowing down your pace—will help make the minutes and miles go by quickly. Run in fartleks, which means speedplay in Swedish, where you pick up the pace every other street lamp or water hydrant you hit, and then slow down after you pass the next one.

Jump Rope

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If grade school was the last time you picked up a jump rope, it’s time to get back into the swing of things. This calorie-busting workout can burn up to 318 calories (for a 140-pound woman) per 30 minutes—and your heart isn’t the only muscle that's working hard. Jumping rope is essentially a full-body workout. Fire up your quads and glutes to help you explode from the ground, and engage your core to keep you upright and stable as you land back down to the ground. Jumping rope also involves a little arm and shoulder action, as they remain tight while the rope movement all comes from the wrists.

Strength Training

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Women are quickly taking over the weight room, and you should get in on the action, too. Why? Strength training can help you build lean muscle mass and rev up your metabolism, which starts to slow down once you hit your 30s. Maintaining muscle alone burns at least 30 calories per pound. But there are more reasons to hit the squat rack than just getting swole. Resistance training also helps prevent osteoporosis. According to Wolff’s law, bone grows in response to the forces that are placed upon it. So if you lift heavier, your bone grows stronger as a response. Deadlifts, anyone?

Kickboxing

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Kickboxing is a great way to burn calories and fat, sculpt muscles—and get some serious stress relief! Nothing can knock stress better than throwing a punch. By driving power from your legs, your arms are able to throw major jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts, making it a full-body exercise. It will also test your coordination and endurance—all essential things that make you a better athlete in and out of the ring.

Spinning

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Spinning, whether it's on an actual bike or a stationary one, is one of the best ways to burn calories and build endurance. If you don't like running, spinning is a low-impact alternative that'll crank up your heart rate. But there's more to pushing the pedal than speed. By practicing good form and engaging your core as well as your thighs and glutes, spinning can be a full-body workout, too. Whether you're doing a heavy climb in first position or sprinting in second, your core is the key to spinning efficiently and quickly. And as you drive your foot down with each stroke, it's all about squeezing your inner thighs.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

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HIIT workouts are, by far, one of the most effective ways to burn calories and hike up your metabolism. And the best part is, these workouts don't have to go for very long. Some HIIT workouts can last for only 10 minutes, but it's only effective if you push your body to its limits with all-out energy. Research has shown that HIIT can help burn belly fat, aka the worst kind of fat that puts you at risk for heart disease and other health conditions. Try our 10-minute, total-body workout to rev up your metabolism.

Rowing

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If you haven't used your gym's rowing machine, you're missing out on one of the best pieces of cardio and strength equipment. Working your quads, glutes, hamstrings, core, arms, and back, you get a total-body workout that'll have you pouring sweat. Contrary to what most people think, the power of rowing mostly comes from your legs—not your arms. Engaging your quads and glutes, you drive your legs back to pull the handle towards your chest.

Elliptical

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Don't be fooled by the elliptical! It might look an easy machine, casually spinning your legs while watching TV or reading a magazine. But if you crank up the resistance and work at a hard pace, it'll leave you breathless. Be sure to stand up straight to lengthen your abs and engage your upper-body muscles. Making use of the handles and swinging your arms will help you blast more fat and calories.

StairMaster

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No matter how fit you are, climbing up a flight of stairs is always a challenge. That's because steps are designed to be short so that you have to engage additional muscles, like your glutes, quads, and calves, to bring your entire body up. Take your cardio to the next level, er, step by doing this HIIT StairMaster workout, working your way from a comfortable, moderate pace to all-out effort.

Battle Ropes

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Battle ropes are an excellent no-fuss way to get a full-body strength training and cardio workout. Working at a high intensity, battle ropes will increase your heart rate in seconds. To use them properly: Hold one end of the rope with each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart. Bend your knees slightly and keep your chest up as you alternate whipping your arms to send waves down to the rope anchor. Experience with different tempos and movement, whipping faster with one arm while slamming the rope hard with the other.

Swimming

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Good news if you don't enjoy the pounding effects of running on your body: Swimming is an excellent workout that combines cardio with strength training in one low-impact workout. Water adds an element of resistance, forcing you to recruit more muscles to move more efficiently and use oxygen wisely. You're using your legs, arms, and core to help you stay afloat, making swimming a great total-body exercise for building strength and endurance. Whether you're a beginner or more advanced, try these swimming workouts for every level.

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