What workout burns the most calories?
Posted on 3 January 2019
From CrossFit, to yoga to running – there’s no shortage of ways to get fit. But if you want to get the most out of your training time, the question is: which exercise gets the most results?
According to Che Bresler, a biokineticist at Mediclinic Sandton, the answer is a combination of things. “No exercise is more effective than another: a combination works best,” she says.
Ideally, that combination would include cardio and strength training. Bresler says this is the best way to get your heart rate up and get you sweating – both good indications that you’re burning excess calories – as well as building fat-burning muscle.
With that in mind, workouts like CrossFit and High-Intensity Interval Training (HITT) are a good choice. “The intensity training gets you the results you want to see in your body through a broad dynamic of strength work, weight exercises and cardio work – sometimes in a single workout,” she says.
Indeed, research has shown CrossFit can elicit an intense metabolic and cardiovascular response. One of the regime’s workouts, Cindy, where you complete as many sets of pull-ups, push-ups and squats as you can in 20 minutes, can burn as much as 13 calories a minute or a total of 260 calories. You’d have to take a 30-minute slow-to-moderate run to burn the same amount of calories.
But CrossFit isn’t for everyone, says Bresler. “You can design your own workout for home or gym that can burn just as many calories in 20 minutes.”
She suggests doing five different cardio and strength exercises for 40 seconds each, with a 20-second break between. Think: running on the treadmill, skipping, push-ups, squats and lunges. Do that for four rounds and that’s 20 minutes done – and you’re going to feel it.
It’s all about your heart rate
The bonus is this type of regime has benefits for your heart and your health. “Because you’re repeatedly bringing your heart rate up and letting it go down, it’s going to impact your heart health. And you’re going to sweat, which means you’re releasing endorphins into your body that help you feel good and manage stress,” says Bresler.
But don’t feel constrained by a specific time limit or by counting calories burned. According to Bresler, the main focus should be keeping your heart rate up. “You can spend an hour walking, or you can do sprints for 15 minutes,” she says.
What’s more, that effort will continue to pay off once you’re done working out. “Over the next hour, your body will be recovering and will still be burning calories,” Bresler explains.
Whatever workout you do, it’s not that important how many calories you burn – but that you’re burning them. “As long as you’re not sitting on the couch, that’s what counts,” she says.