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Authored by Hannah Cornell, Physical Therapy

Burning calories doesn't mean doing intense cardio, or any type of workout, for hours on end. You can burn calories and have a great workout session by doing simple, quick and effective exercises. A few examples include anaerobic exercises and high-intensity workouts. 

Anaerobic exercises

Anaerobic activities include HIIT (high-intensity interval training), weightlifting or any type of resistance training. Anaerobic training allows the body to burn the most calories in a short window of time. What is the reason for this? This type of movement keeps the body's excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and calorie burn going for hours afterward. When you work out at higher intensities, your body requires more oxygen after the workout is completed for recovery, returning to a resting state and repairing muscles. Therefore, lifting weights or completing some form of resistance training usually leads to a higher EPOC than just cardio exercises alone.

High-intensity workouts

Burning calories also doesn't always need to involve weights. If you are someone who lives a busy lifestyle with no access to a gym or equipment, you can still get an effective and quick workout completed by focusing on the intensity you put into your workout. By doing high-intensity workouts, you can burn a lot of calories in 30 minutes or less.

Consider adding these movements to your daily workouts to assist with calorie burn:


  • Weighted squats (holding a dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands at chest height, or two dumbbells at your sides)
  • Bodyweight exercises
  • Quick air squats (no weights)
  • Weighted or unweighted lunges (forward, side, reverse)
  • Dumbbell or kettlebell swings
  • Weighted or unweighted step-ups
  • Dips
  • Planks
  • Push-ups
  • Biceps curls
  • Triceps extension
  • Bent over rows
  • Jumping jacks
  • Burpees
  • Plank jacks
  • Squat jumps

Here are some examples of how you can use these movements to burn calories with quick and effective workouts. If you suffer from any injuries or health issues, it is advised you consult and get cleared from your primary care provider prior to trying these workouts:

  • Complete as many repetitions in 1 minute of each movement. Complete these for 3 rounds with a 30-second rest in between each round (can be completed with or without equipment)
  • 1 min-mountain climbers
  • 1 min- weighted squats or air squats
  • 1 min- dumbbell or kettlebell swings (starting in a partial squat position, hold onto weight with both hands with arms extended, swing weight to about eye level by standing up and pushing hips forward, return, then repeat) or jumping jacks
  • 1 min- weighted forward lunges or unweighted forward lunges
  • 1 min- biceps curls or push-ups
  • Complete 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions if each movement
  • Bent over rows
  • Biceps curls
  • Overhead triceps extension
  • Squats holding onto weight at chest height
  • Weighted lunges – DBs or KBS in each hand at sides
  • Shoulder dumbbell front raises

Burning calories by eating healthy along with working out

To maximize your level of calorie burn, it's essential to adopt a nutritious eating plan along with engaging in regular exercise. Combining a healthy diet with physical activity will help you achieve optimal results for calorie expenditure. Incorporating nutrient-rich foods into your meals, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, will also provide your body with the fuel needed to support quality workouts. Engaging in various forms of exercise, such as cardio workouts, strength training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), will help burn calories efficiently and improve your overall fitness levels. Remember, consistency is key when it comes to achieving your calorie-burning goals. Here are additional articles on healthy eating, including intermittent fasting, foundation for healthy eating and how to know if you’re really eating healthy.

Looking for more information on how to enhance your workouts and achieve the best results?

Contact our Sports Medicine team for athletic and sports performance training services, physical therapy and more with no referral needed. Let our experts help you successfully reach your next fitness goal! Connect with our providers today.

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