7 Ways to Burn More Calories in Different Types of Workouts

woman running stairs

Aaand..stop! Workout finished. You’re still catching your breath while your sweaty fingers try to navigate through the workout stats on your phone or fitness device.

“Show me the calories…”

Damn.

“80 kcal in 20 minutes?”

If your goal is to burn more calories during your workout, here’s what you can do.

workout app

What increases calorie burn during exercise

Both calorie burn and heart rate will increase with workout intensity. Generally speaking, the higher your heart rate is during workout, the more calories you burn per minute.

Do I really need a heart rate monitor?

No, you can estimate the intensity by how you feel. Or take your pulse on your neck below your jawline for 15 seconds and multiply it by 4. Still, a heart rate monitor is better to see how intense different workouts are for you, even if it’s not precise when it comes to the exact number of calories burned.(1,2) Download the free heart rate app to see how your heart rate behaves during your workout and learn more about exercise intensity.

CALORIES BURNED DURING WORKOUT (BY HEART RATE) CALCULATOR

Now that you know you want to raise the intensity of your workout to burn more calories, the question is… how exactly?

How to increase workout intensity and burn more calories

1. Get fired up instead of warmed up

Warm up in a way that really sets you on fire! That way it will be easier to keep your heart rate up during the whole workout and burn more calories.

Suggestion:

Start with an easy 5 min of dynamic stretches such as Arm Circles, Hip Openers, and Inchworms, which you can find in the Results app. Followed by….

10 min of high intensity warm-up, such as:

In total, your warm-up shouldn’t take more than 15 min. But when you’re done you should be out of breath.

Woman doing intense training

2. Rest less: use supersets

Minimizing rest periods in your workout will keep your heart rate elevated for longer periods. As a result, you will burn more calories.

Skip the breaks by resting a certain muscle group while using another one. This is mostly done by using supersets.

Suggestion:

Combine an upper body and lower body exercise in the same set. Repeat each set 3-6 times. If you do more sets, finish all rounds of the first set and then move on.

  • 1st set: Push-ups + Squats; repeat each exercise 8-12 times then immediately move on the next one. Repeat the set 3-6 times in a row.
  • 2nd set: Plank + Lunges; the same as in the first set.

3. Run, walk, bike…faster!

The key to increasing intensity in cardio workouts is to increase the speed! Check out this calculator for calories burned walking vs. running at different speeds. There’s nothing wrong with steady-state cardio, but when it comes to burning calories there is a difference in benefits between low intensity and high intensity cardio. Both can be used in running training to burn fat.

Add more speed to your workouts by doing interval training. Fast intervals make your heart rate shoot up, so it takes longer to drop. In the end, your average heart rate/intensity is higher for the whole workout. And you burn more calories.

Suggestions:

Runners outdoor

4. Hit the hills

Speed is not the only way to increase intensity in your cardio workouts. Running uphill burns more calories than running on flat surfaces at the same speed.

Suggestions:

  • Outdoor running: Look for hills and stairs on your running route. Or do a full hill or stair-focused workout. Hill sprints and stair runs will crank up your heart rate in a matter of seconds.
  • Treadmill running: Slowly increase the treadmill incline while walking or running. How high can you go? The higher the better, but only to a certain point. Watch out for signs that you’re going too high: if you have to hold on to the railings or lean forward really far, the incline might be too high.

5. Do more jumping

An easy way to burn more calories in your bodyweight workout is to add more jumping exercises.

Suggestions:

  • Jump Squats, Jump Lunges, Burpees, Squat Jacks, Frog Squats…Make every second exercise in your workout a jumping one. That way you won’t let your heart rate drop too low between exercises/sets.
  • Do Jumping Jacks in between rounds. If you do them lightly, you can use them as active rest.
  • Use a jump rope for your warm-up or include it in your workout.

Man jumping

6. Skip the isolation exercises

Isolation exercises help you target specific muscle groups, which is useful for improving your weaknesses and imbalances. But when it comes to calorie burn, you are better off choosing compound exercises that recruit more (and bigger) muscle groups.

Suggestions:

  • Bodyweight training: Donkey Kicks are great for making your glutes burn. But Jump Squats and Jump Lunges will burn more calories. Best case: you have both in your training plan. Check out this 12-week bodyweight training plan.
  • At the gym: Skip the machines focused on a certain muscle group and use free weights to do compound movements such as: Squat + Press, Deadlift + Row…

7. Discover calorie burning gems

Most gym-goers hit the treadmill for 30 min or longer at the same speed. Others run the same route outdoors 3 times a week. If you keep doing the same workouts, not only does your body get used it, but you are also missing out on so many other calorie-torching activities.

Suggestions:

  • Rowing: A 80 kg/175 pound person could burn 130 kcal in just 10 minutes of vigorous rowing! Try doing intervals on an indoor rowing machine: 100-300m as fast as you can, then rest 20-40 seconds and repeat for 1-3 km.
  • Swimming: Try swimming one length easy, then one as fast as you can. Minimizing rest between laps will help you burn more calories. Butterfly style burns the most, but is often too hard for non-swimmers. The crawl and breaststroke are great burners, too. Make sure to choose the style where you have a strong technique.

Lastly… there’s one thing you definitely shouldn’t do to burn more calories – don’t put plastic wrap around your body or wear tons of layers to burn more calories. It does not work! 😉

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Hana Medvesek With a background in physical therapy, Hana strongly believes that movement is medicine. She likes to run, lift weights, and try out simple, healthy recipes. View all posts by Hana Medvesek »