What Exercises Can Burn a Ton of Calories?

Planking, lunges, burpees, and more exercises that will burn the most calories when working out.

These exercises burn tons of calories and hit several muscles at once, giving you the most bang for your buck. You can do them at home, at your convenience, and without fancy gym machines or expensive equipment.

Calories are units of energy contained in your food. When you eat, your body breaks down calories and turns them into energy. When calories aren't broken down into energy, your body will store them as fat, according to MedlinePlus.

How Do Exercises, Like Planking, Burn More Calories?

MedlinePlus explained that if an activity takes more work to complete, it will burn more calories. Each of the following exercises incorporates a strength exercise—like planks—combined with movement, to get your heart pumping and calories burning.

For example, according to the Calorie Control Council, a 150-pound individual doing one minute of pilates (which incorporates many core exercises with planks) will burn about seven calories per minute. Furthermore, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will use daily.

Many factors—including your weight and metabolism and the duration and intensity of your workout—can affect how many calories you may burn during each exercise. So, try these exercises if you're looking for movements that burn many calories at once.

Plank Drag

Get into a plank position: Place your hands right underneath your shoulders, engage your abs, and be sure to have a flat back. You'll also want to place a small towel under each foot. On a hardwood or linoleum floor, drag your body from one side of the room to the other. You will pull your body weight by using your arms to move around. One trip across the room, to one wall and back, counts as one round. Repeat this three times.



Burpees are a go-to full-body workout because you use several muscles at once, and your heart rate may jump up, too. First, get into a plank position, then "jump" your knees toward your chest and land with your feet just outside where each hand was in your plank. After that, lift your chest and jump up. Next, raise your arms in the air while pointing your toes. When you land, go back into your knees-at-chest position, and kick your legs back to that original plank position. That's one rep.

Be sure to land lightly and keep your core engaged to avoid injury to your back. This one is intense, so try to do as many as you can (safely), but listen to your body as you go. There are different variations for burpees; choose the one that you find challenging while still being able to maintain the proper form.

Jump Lunges

Start with your feet together and elbows bent at 90 degrees. Then lunge forward, as shown in the photo below. For proper form, keep your chest up and your weight on the heel of your front foot. Next, jump straight up as you raise your hands to the ceiling (but keep your elbows bent!), and then land in a lunge with your opposite foot forward. Repeat and switch legs.


Renegade Row

You'll need two hand weights for this one. Get into your plank position, with your weights in your hands to support you. Lift one arm against your body so that your forearm aligns with your back and your elbow is at 90 degrees. Hold for two counts, then lower back down to where you started. Repeat on the opposite arm. Engage your abs, and try to keep your hips as even as possible (it's tricky!).


Squat To Press

Grab two lower-weight hand weights. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, elbows bent 90 degrees, and your palms facing forward. Slowly lower into a squat position with your weight over your heels and your chest up. Hold for two seconds. Next, push through your heels to stand up straight while raising your weights towards the ceiling. Repeat.

Other Exercises That Burn A Lot of Calories

There are certainly more exercises you can do on your own terms that can burn hundreds of calories within a 30- to 60-minute timeframe. Some home-based exercise options include jumping rope, high-interval intensity training (HIIT), or kickboxing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provide a list of exercises you could try, such as:

  • Dancing
  • Bicycling
  • Walking (at least 3.5 miles per hour)
  • Running or jogging
  • Swimming
  • Aerobics

What Else To Consider About Exercising and Burning Calories

Remember, the number of calories burned depends on several factors, such as how long you exercise and the type of exercise you do. For example, going for a slow walk will burn fewer calories than if you walk at a moderate speed per MedlinePlus.

In terms of intensity, you can determine how intense your exercise is by using the talk test, according to the CDC. An exercise of moderate intensity will allow you to carry on a conversation, even with an elevated heart rate, while vigorously intense exercise will prevent you from saying more than a few words at a time.

Workouts can be also about more than just burning calories—especially if you try to make exercising fun or incorporate physical activity into everyday activities (e.g., parking further away from a storefront to get more steps in). You'll also be able to improve your endurance, gain strength, and benefit your physical and mental health. For example, the CDC says that physical activity can help you with the management of weight, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

Ultimately, listen to your body when you exercise, and talk to a healthcare professional if you experience discomfort or pain when exercising. You'll also want to speak with a healthcare professional to determine which exercises you can do and for how long if you have any chronic health conditions, a disability, or a desire to start intense exercise after being inactive for a long period of time.

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