Feel the Burn

Exercises to torch calories.
Published December 7, 2022

If you’re looking for exercises to burn the most calories in a workout session, two things will do the job: high-impact exercises and weightlifting.

Activate the burn

“High-impact exercises are exercises that require moving both feet off the ground and therefore add more strain on the joints. The more impact as your feet leave and hit the ground, the higher your heart rate gets,” explains John Gardner, a NASM-certified personal trainer and the CEO and co-founder behind Kickoff, a remote personal training platform. “These exercises include jumping and running exercises as well as photometric exercises.”

Nancy Mitchell, a registered nurse and a contributing writer at Assisted Living, adds that the right high-impact exercises for your unique physical health can have both physical and mental positive effects. However, she also points out that exceedingly high-impact exercises can cause injuries to your musculoskeletal system – so it’s important to be careful when doing high-impact activities.

Keep the burn going

“Exercises which engage the muscles will induce prolonged calorie burn,” Mitchell says. “This is because microscopic tears in muscle tissue require a lot of energy to repair and recover. So your body will continue to work toward recuperating and growing the tissue even after you’re done exercising.”

This is where weightlifting comes in.

“If you want to achieve this prolonged calorie burning effect, consider adding weightlifting to your exercise regimen three to five times weekly to keep muscles engaged and active,” Mitchell says.

Another way to keep the calorie burn going after your workout is done involves a specific type of high-impact exercise.

“One of the best high-impact workouts to burn calories even after you’ve exercised is high-intensity interval training (HIIT),” Gardner says.

“When it comes to HIIT workouts, my go-to is usually a Tabata workout, which follows a four-[minute] workout of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for eight rounds. During these 20 seconds, a person gives their maximum effort and rests for 10 seconds, which really helps spike the heart rate. You can do four or five sets of Tabata workouts, get your heartbeat pumping and really break a sweat. The best thing about this workout is that it is intense, effective and boosts metabolism and fat burning for up to 48 hours post-workout. This is a great way to not only boost endurance and overall fitness levels, but to continue burning calories and fats even after your workout.”

Tips to activate calorie burn

  • Make sure you’re reaching at least 80 per cent of your maximum heart rate during interval training, says Gardner.
  • Limit your rest periods between sets to keep your heart rate up. Gardner says it’s best to rest for 30 to 60 seconds before you get your heart rate pumping again.
  • Use compound exercises. “The biggest advantage of compound exercises,” says Gardner, “is that they activate several muscles at the same time, making them a more effective and efficient workout as you burn more calories in less time. This includes deadlifts, squats, pushups and many more.”
  • Continue to challenge yourself. “Don’t get used to any exercise. You need to constantly switch it up, challenge yourself and increase weights or variations to your workouts that require more physical strength,” Gardner explains. You can do this by adding weights, using more muscle groups or adding more resistance, for example.