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Did You Know This Exercise Burns The Most Calories?

Experts have dedicated a lot of to study just how much energy people expend when doing different kinds of exercise, and they’ve found out which workouts are best for burning calories.

The thing to bear in mind is that the more muscles you engage and the longer and harder you push those muscles, the more energy you will burn through, says Dr. Tim Church, an expert in preventative medicine at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

To maximize the number of calories you burn, you need to do an exercise that makes use of both lower and upper body muscle groups at a high intensity, adds Church.

You would usually think CrossFit or Tabata-style interval training are the ones that burn the most calories. And you could be right.

CrossFit and Tabata

A recent study on one well-known CrossFit workout called the “Cindy” — where you would do a series of push-ups, pull-ups and squats in as many rounds as possible — found that the workout burned an average of 13 calories per minute. Cindy lasts 20 minutes, so exercisers were able to burn an average of 260 calories all in all.

While perfectly structured studies aren’t available, some research on Tabata has shown that one of these workouts is comprised of 4-minute training blocks that combine maximum-intensity rounds of aerobic and resistance training with short periods of rest, and burns 14.5 calories a minute, or 280 calories if doing a 20-minute workout.

These averages beat out other traditional forms of exercise. However, John Porcari, a professor of sports and exercise science at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse and an author of the Tabata study, says that these numbers are not constant in every person that does the workout. For example, some in his study were able to burn 360 calories during the 20-minute workout, or 18 calories per minute.


The person’s willingness to stick with a workout and total time spent training are also important factors. Porcari says that people can crank full-power for 30 seconds and still be able to burn a lot of calories. This means that if you’re extremely short on time, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the best option. However, in the real world, a lot of people aren’t comfortable, or even capable of engaging in extended or regular bouts of high-intensity training.

He says a fairer way to measure an exercise’s real energy demands is to have people perform at a pace that they find comfortable. Also, when it comes to fast-paced, calorie-burning exercises that people are willing to do for extended periods of time, running would be the top pick.


Porcari also adds that according to most studies, running tends to burn more calories compared to other methods.

You may be thinking if more intense forms of exercise can mean a higher rate of calorie burn, even after training is finished. Research from Colorado State University has shown that intense exercise does maintain a person’s metabolism longer than mild exercise. But this effect, also known as afterburn, tends to peter out quickly, within a few hours at most. It also only accounts for infinitesimal part of the total calories a person burns while exercising, and after.

Also, according to a different study, a workout’s length, and not just the intensity, will help keep a person’s metabolism elevated post-training. So, if the goal is to burn the most amount of energy, one needs to find an exercise that one can dedicate a long period of time to, as well as being vigorous.

For many people, that exercise is running. There are also others who prefer fast stationary cycling, or even Tabata or elliptical training. The research suggests all are comparable if you can put in the time necessary and maintain the high intensity.


In the end the best workout for calorie burning is the one you actually do, according to Church. You can choose extreme exercises that are able to maximize the per-minute calorie burn. But if you can’t stick with them, they’re not really that useful for you.

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