What Cardio Workouts Burn the Most Calories?

By Team Cellucor

Have you been wondering what cardio workouts burn the most calories?

Most of us can't dedicate hours to a cardio machine. That's why we've rounded up eight cardio workouts that will give you the most bang for your buck. 

No 1: Circuit training

If you want an efficient, calorie-torching workout that combines strength and cardio, then circuit training should be your weapon of choice. 

Circuits often incorporate functional pieces of equipment such as stability balls, sand weights, weighted vests, battle ropes, etc. However, you can add just about any exercise to a circuit.

Circuits are so effective that studies in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found doing them for eight weeks made people lose more fat than traditional sets, all while still gaining muscle and strength.

The real kicker, however, is for anyone who is crunched for time and still wants to have an awesome workout. Studies have found that you only have to do one set on each exercise for calorie torching benefits. Although this runs contrary to reason, research in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that doing one set on a circuit burnt as many calories 72 hours after the workout as doing three sets did. 

No 2: CrossFit

CrossFit involves doing a mix of gymnastic, strength and intense cardio exercises for overall conditioning. The end result? CrossFitters embrace variety in their workouts so their bodies are constantly adapting to a fresh stimulus, building new muscle and ultimately burning more calories.

One of the most common CrossFit workouts is known as “The Cindy,” a 20-minute workout that consists of several bodyweight exercises for as many reps as possible. According to a study conducted by Kennesaw State University, this routine workout can burn on average, 261 calories per session.

No 3: Bodyweight circuits

The biggest excuse for not working out is usually lack of time to get to the gym. Well, with bodyweight training you don’t even have to leave the house to get a great workout. Bodyweight workouts involve compound exercises that recruit several muscle groups at one time. Because bodyweight training combines cardio and strength training, the workouts are a 1-2 punch, which means you burn a lot of calories in a short period of time. According to the Harvard Medical School, a 160lb person, in an hour of bodyweight exercises, can burn 365 calories. 

No 4: High-Intensity Training

High-intensity training, not to be mistaken for interval training, is brutal. It has a single goal: obliterate every scrap of energy you have in the shortest time possible. If you’re brave enough to do it properly, there shouldn’t be a breath left in you to whine about how tired you are. That's because you're working at around 95% of your maximum output. While you are still following 'interval' format with HIT, your rest times are longer than a standard interval. 

Even though HIT workouts are typically short, they work overtime so that you burn calories even after you've left the gym. That's because of your post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), the extra oxygen your body uses after you’ve finished sweating, increases. The more O2 you breathe in after training, the more calories your body burns. After a strenuous bout of high-intensity training, your body gobbles up more oxygen than normal so that it can return to its pre-exercise state. This raises your metabolism because you’re burning more calories to fund the recovery process.

Studies in Sports Medicine found this elevated calorie expenditure can last from 15 minutes to 48 hours, depending on how your body reacts. That means you could be burning more calories for free while you kick it on the couch.

No 5: Interval training

Interval training was once a buzzword: ‘do less – gain more’ or ‘twice the burn in half the time.’ You’ve heard the headline but the bottom line is that it works because you get more fit and leaner when your body adapts to a workload that’s higher than it’s used to but not so high that it qualifies as HIT (see above). Interval rest periods, during which you’re not actually resting but are still moving at a slow pace, help your energy stores recover and let you recharge your battery.

A Laval University study found that this kind of training burns up to three times as much fat as plodding along at a steady pace. And if you’re trying to improve performance, interval training is also your best option. Research in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found cyclists who did just six interval training sessions were able to boost their time trails in a 25-mile race.

Even if you can't dedicate a whole workout to interval style training, you can still bump up the calorie burn of that workout by adding five minutes of interval training (30-second on and 30-second rest periods) before and after workout sessions. 

If more free time, quicker results and a better performance are on your agenda then keep your sweat sessions short and sweet.

No 6: Spinning

It’s not the fast-moving legs, blaring tunes or strip lighting that makes a spin class so popular or effective. It’s the varying tempo that nukes calories, because research in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that doing interval training on a bike, the way you would in a spin class, burns fat 36% faster and improves your cardiovascular fitness by 13% compared to moving along at the same pace.

A vigorous spinning class on an indoor bike can burn about 741 calories an hour.* It’s also one of the few group exercise classes that have minimal impact on your joints, making it ideal for anyone starting out.

No 7: Boxing

Boxing isn't a standard gym workout but if you're brave enough to go to a boxing gym or class, you won't be sorry. In fact, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that boxing burns a whopping 11 calories every minute and gives your heart an excellent workout. In one hour you could burn up to 700 calories.* For those results, it’s well worth embracing your inner Rocky.

No 8: Boot camp

In boot camp, you’re mercilessly screamed at while alternating between lugging heavy objects and running to get said objects. Switching between strength and cardio moves like this actually helps you burn 90% more fat and you could see an 82% improvement in muscle gains compared to doing strength and cardio work separately, as was found research at the University of California. Hit up a one-hour session, you can expect to burn between 500 to 600 calories.*

*Please note your average calorie burn per session will depend on your personal weight.

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