It’s no secret that many people exercise to burn calories and get rid of some pounds they don’t think that they need. The best type of exercises for this are aerobic, which simply means that they require lots of work by the heart and lungs, which in turn burn stores of fat in your body to keep going.
We usually call it “cardio” and it’s often the least favorite part of any gym routine. But if you are serious about losing calories fast, some types of cardio are more effective than others: Here’s a list of the best options for all different kinds of people.
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Sprinting remains one of the best ways to keep your heart rate up and shed pounds.
We know what you are thinking: You came to this list to look for easy and effective ways to drop some weight, and you definitely weren’t thinking about “running.” In fact, you were probably thinking, “Please give me something to do besides running!”
Well, we will – but first we need to start with the facts. Running is still the hands-down best cardio exercise to burn calories for the average person.
Specifically, sprinting that gets your heart rate up quickly is very effective at burning calories and creating that valuable “afterburn” effect that keeps you burning calories throughout the day.
Efficiency: High – sprinting is still the king of calorie burning.
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High-intensity interval training is a great way to get in shape…as long as you can handle it.
Let’s talk about HIIT or high-intensity interval training. It’s one of the best ways to get your heart rate up, and it doesn’t need to involve any traditional cardio exercises. CrossFit is an infamous example, but it’s smart to start with something that doesn’t make you feel like throwing up immediately.
The key is always to keep moving: Switch rapidly between activities to keep your heart rate up. For example, switch between jump-rope sets and pushups for a basic HIIT exercise. You can also do aerobic exercise and then switch between different speeds for a similar effect.
Let’s talk about HIIT, or high intensity interval training. It’s one of the best ways to get your heart rate up, and it doesn’t need to involve any traditional cardio exercises. CrossFit is an infamous example, but it’s smart to start with something that doesn’t make you feel like throwing up immediately.
The key is to always keep moving: Switch rapidly between activities to keep your heart rate up. For example, switch between jump-rope sets and pushups for a basic HIIT exercise. You can also do an aerobic exercise and then switch between different speeds for a similar effect.
Efficiency: High – intervals done right are fat-burning silver bullets.
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Circuits involve running and basic body weight workouts for a furious calorie burning exercise.
Circuits are very similar to intervals and may even be interchangeable in some circles. However, circuits tend to take place in an open area and include a running portion as your portion of healthy cardio.
For example, you may sprint for a certain distance, then take a break to do a few basic bodyweight exercises, then sprint again. It’s a great outdoor way to burn calories very quickly, especially if you have access to something like an outdoor track.
Circuits, like intervals, are also naturally flexible and can be used with a variety of exercises and difficulty levels.
Efficiency: Medium to very high – circuits depend more on your own customization, but with enough sprinting you are sure to burn a lot of calories.
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Hardcore cycling can burn as many as 600 calories per hour.
If running is tricky in your area or simply not your jam, then consider cycling instead. Cycling has the potential to burn around 600 calories per hour! Notice, though, that we specified potential here – there are many different types of levels of cycling.
Pushing up on an incline at a steady pace is guaranteed to burn calories quickly, but a slower pace or easier track will not burn as many calories, so it doesn’t have the same consistency that running does. On the plus side, it’s easy to hop on a station and quickly raise your heart rate if you only have a little time at the gym.
Efficiency: Medium – the most brutal cycling will burn calories like nothing else, but few people fall into this category.
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Rowing is a full-body exercise that excels at cutting out fat.
Consider that you are sitting down when you do it, not many people think of rowing as a great cardio exercise…at least, not until they’ve tried it. A proper rowing machine will not only work your entire upper body and quite a bit of your lower body, but it will also quickly get your heart rate up and help you burn those calories off.
This is a great option for those who want to build some muscle as well as burn fat. If you don’t have much experience with rowing machines before, remember to start off slow and practice to avoid injury.
Efficiency: Medium to high – once master, rowing is an excellent full-body exercise but doesn’t have quite as much potential as other cardio.
6. Jumping Rope
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Jumping rope is an excellent, although high-impact, exercise to burn calories.
If you don’t have much time or space but still want to experience the old calorie-burning effect, buy a jump rope! They are simple to use and you can quickly build up a fat-burning routine. Try jumping rope for around a minute or two, then take about a 30-second break before starting the next set.
Do this 10 to 15 times, and you’ve just created a very solid cardio program for yourself! Two things to remember about jumping rope. First, it is a very high impact activity, so try to pick good shows and a semi-soft surface to avoid joint damage. Second, you need to just as fast and hard as you can to see the best benefits.
Efficiency: Medium – jumping rope is incredibly efficient for space it uses, but you’ll need to work hard to burn calories.
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Swimming is great for your muscles and joints – and it burns calories at an exhaustive rate.
Swimming is another one of those odd activities that are not often associated with fat burning or cardio. However, swimming takes more energy than almost any exercise you can do on land, which means that the calories will just float away – you can burn as many as 600 calories per hour.
Plus, swimming will help you build muscle and there’s no danger of joint damage that you can find in other exercises. However, there are a few disadvantages – namely, swimming requires frequent access to a pool, and takes a lot of training to build up endurance.
Efficiency: High – swimming takes a whole lot of energy, so kiss your fat goodbye.
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Options like cross-country skiing are heart-pumping wintertime activities that get you outside and burning calories even when there’s snow on the ground.
Let’s say you want to burn the calories with a heart-pumping exercise, but you also like the outdoors – and it’s wintertime, which means lots of snow in your area. If you have the gear or don’t mind the investment, then we advise skiing.
The constant motion and effort required in skiing, especially advanced options like cross-country skiing, is an excellent way to get rid of fat while the ground is covered with snow. Just remember to be careful out there!
Efficiency: Medium – skiing varies based on your method of choice.
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Racquetball is essentially interval training in the form of a game, an ideal way to burn calories.
If your tastes tend toward more indoor sports, then we humbly suggest getting involved in a racquetball team or partnership. Racquetball hits all the major boxes when it comes to a great cardio activity: It involves a lot of fast moving, switching positions, and upper/lower body movement.
Essentially, you are doing interval training while playing a game at the same time, which makes it much more exciting for everyone.
Of course, racquetball may also be more frustrating if you take the losses too personally – but with the calorie burn, doesn’t everyone win? Hey, tennis works too if racquetball isn’t really your game.
Efficiency: High – As long as you spend a significant time playing, your heart rate will be high.
10. Step Exercises
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Stepping is a simple way to slowly boost your heart rate in a safe environment.
Step exercises, where you step up and down on a surface like a box or a step, is a surprisingly flexible and useful activity for those looking to boost their heart rates and burn out calories. Those with joint problems or the elderly can use low steps to get in a good workout without risking injury.
Trainers and athletes can use higher boxes for full leg strength and a calories burn that won’t stop. All in all, this is a far better option than hopping on a low-resistant machine like an elliptical (unless you are dealing with an injury), so get out there and start stepping!
Efficiency: Low – better for those starting out or people with injuries, but still effective.