Looking to lose weight? Exercises that burn the most calories revealed

Looking to lose weight? Exercises that burn the most calories revealed

Looking to lose weight? Exercises that burn the most calories revealed

  • Swimming and running can burn hundreds of calories in just an hour, experts say
  •  Personal trainers recommend HIIT if you only have 20 minutes to spare 

How to lose weight quickly is a common question among those looking to shed the pounds.

When time is precious, knowing which workout will burn the most calories per minute spent sweating it out can be key.

So, MailOnline asked personal trainers which workouts are most efficient for shedding fat.

And it’s not good news if you don’t like running.

Running, going on the rowing machine and swimming can burn about 400 calories in 30-minutes


Calories burned per 30 minutes (man): 420

Calories burned per 30 minutes (woman): 360

It may not be everyone’s favourite, but a 30-minute run does burn calories.

‘Unsurprisingly, anything that involves using your whole-body weight leaving the ground will generally burn the most calories,’ says Matt Roberts, a personal trainer to the likes of Adele and Naomi Campbell.

One form of exercise that uses your whole body is running.

The cardiovascular exercise increases blood flow to the muscles, which boosts metabolism and helps shed more calories, as well as boosting overall fitness levels. 

‘Whilst running requires a lot of mental and physical stamina, it is a great way to burn calories,’ says Jodie McKnight, trainer at F45 gym in Mill Hill, London.

To get started, Ms McKnight suggests creating a motivational playlist and aiming to run for 30 minutes — even if you end up walking for some of that.

Data from Harvard University suggests that running at a pace of 6 miles (10km) per hour would see the average British man (who weighs 85kg) burn 420 calories, while the average British woman (who weighs 72kg) would burn 360 calories.

It may not be everyone’s’ favourite, but a 30-minute run does burn calories The cardiovascular exercise will push your body to its limits by getting your heart pumping, helping to boost overall fitness levels


Calories burned per 30 minutes (man): 252 (general); 420 (vigorous)

Calories burned per 30 minutes (woman): 216 (general); 360 (vigorous)

Another option that involves using the whole body is swimming.

Swimming helps develop a strong core, while engaging the arms, legs and the heart rate — all of which can help with weight loss. 

The low-impact workout burns energy while also improving muscle strength, blood flow and lung and heart capacity, says personal trainer Louisa Drake, founder of The Louisa Drake Method in London.


Adults aged 19 to 64 are advised to exercise daily.

The NHS says Britons should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity a week. 

The advice is the same for disabled adults, pregnant women and new mothers. 

Exercising just one or twice a week can reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke.

Moderate activity includes brisk walking, water aerobics, riding a bike, dancing, doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower, hiking and rollerblading.

Vigorous exercise includes running, swimming, riding a bike fast or on hills, walking up stairs, as well as sports such as football, rugby, netball and hockey.

It’s also a great option if you have joint issues and if it’s done properly it can burn more than 400 calories per hour.

Harvard University figures show that a man would burn 252 calories after half an hour of swimming, rising to 420 calories if their pace was vigorous — such as doing laps. For a woman, it is 216 calories, rising to 360 calories. 


Calories burned per 30 minutes (man): 294

Calories burned per 30 minutes (woman): 252 

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is guaranteed to leave you feeling sweaty, even after just 15 minutes.

Each session is around 30 minutes and filled with short bursts exercises — such as squats, lunges and mountain climbers — followed by short rests.

Harvard data suggests men burn 300 calories in a session, while women burn 252.

‘Studies have shown that working out in short bursts and doing high intensity exercises (think bike sprints, ball slams or jumping lunges), can be more effective in burning calories than 30 mins of straight cardio,’ says Ms McKnight.

However, the total calories burned during HIIT could be as high as 600 per 30 minutes, according to Ms Drake. 

She said: ‘HIIT based workouts combine dynamic bursts of cardiovascular activity with resistance-based strength-building movements, and you can be done and dusted in as little as 20 minutes.

‘This fast-paced workout that involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a rest period.’

HIIT can burn up to 600 calories in just 30 minutes. A session filled with short bursts of squats, lunges and mountain climbers followed by short rests will burn hundreds of calories

Rowing machine 

Calories burned per 30 minutes (man): 294 (general); 440 (vigorous)

Calories burned per 30 minutes (woman): 252 (general); 369 (vigorous)

If you just want to burn calories in the gym the best machines to use are the rowing machine and the versa climber.

Mr Roberts says these machines have a high burn rate and will help work off 10 to 13 calories per kilo of body weight per hour.

Calorie burning data from Harvard suggests a man burns 294 to 440 calories per 30 minutes on a rowing machine — depending on effort. For woman, the figure is 252 to 369.

But you don’t need machines to burn calories in the gym.

‘Without machines, exercises such as burpees, jumping jacks, shuttle runs, box jumps and skipping all burn at high levels,’ says Mr Roberts.


Calories burned per 30 minutes (man): 159 (general); 189 (vigorous)

Calories burned per 30 minutes (woman): 133 (general); 175 (vigorous)

You don’t need to step foot in a gym to burn calories.

Simply walking can do the trick, personal trainers say.

‘I would recommend walking if you’re looking for a lower intensity way to get your body moving and still burn calories,’ say Ms McKnight.

Walking isn’t just good for burning calories and weight loss — it is also great for cardiovascular and mental health.

Ms McKnight says: ‘It is currently recommended that people aim to walk around 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, which equates to around 250-600 calories depending on the individual.’

She recommends staying active outside of workouts is vital for burning calories extra calories each day.

A steady walking pace burns around 133 calories per 30 minutes for women and 159 for men, rising to 175 and 189, respectively, if the pace is vigorous.  

It’s not just squats and weightlifting that will build muscle, yoga can too. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest

Strength training 

Calories burned per 30 minutes (man): 126 (general); 252 (vigorous)

Calories burned per 30 minutes (woman): 108 (general); 216 (vigorous)

If you’re tired of cardio, you can pick up the weights instead.

For building muscle can also help burn extra calories — and will continue to do so even after you leave the gym.

Ms McKnight said: ‘Studies have shown that lifting weights can lead to higher EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) levels than cardio.

‘This means that the body continues to burn calories even after completing your workout.’

She recommends squat lifts, deadlifts and clean and press.

Harvard researchers estimate that a man burns 126 to 252 per half hour, depending on how vigorously they exercise, while women burn 108 to 216. 

However, yoga, Pilates and barre are other ways of building strength.

Ms Drake said: ‘They increase your muscle mass, which burns more calories than fat.

‘The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest.’

Mr Roberts recommends strengthening the lower body, upper body and core to achieve maximum calorie burn. 

He said: ‘It is muscle that burns fat and energy the best.

‘A routine that includes squats, lunges and glute bridge, plus press ups, chest press, pulls downs and seated rows, with a series of core exercises will give the platform from which all of the other work can be done more effectively.’

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