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  • Writer's pictureEmmanuel Ofori

What Exercise Burns the Most Calories

When it comes to maximizing your workout time, understanding which exercises burn the most calories is key. Exercise scientists have extensively studied energy expenditure during different exercises to determine the most effective calorie-burning workouts.



Dr. Tim Church, an exercise researcher and professor at Louisiana State University, emphasizes that engaging multiple muscle groups at high intensity is crucial for calorie burn. This means exercises involving both upper and lower body muscles at a vigorous pace are ideal.


Activities like CrossFit or Tabata-style interval training are often highlighted for their calorie-burning potential. A study on CrossFit workouts, consisting of pull-ups, push-ups, and squats in rapid succession, showed an average calorie burn of 13 calories per minute, totaling 260 calories in a 20-minute session. Similarly, Tabata workouts, featuring intense 4-minute blocks of resistance and aerobic exercises with short rest periods, can burn around 14.5 calories per minute or 280 calories in 20 minutes.


However, individual factors like effort and endurance, can influence calorie burn significantly. While these intense workouts offer high per-minute calorie burn, not everyone may sustain high intensity effort for extended periods. In such cases, activities like running, will allow for longer, sustained calorie burn, at a low intensity but longer duration. 


Research indicates that running tends to burn more calories over time compared to other activities. A 30-minute run at a moderate pace can burn around 260 calories for a 115-pound individual and nearly 400 calories for a 175-pound person.


It's worth noting that while intense workouts can lead to a temporary increase in metabolism post-exercise, this "afterburn" effect is relatively short-lived and contributes minimally to overall calorie expenditure.


Ultimately, the best calorie-burning exercise is one that you enjoy and can do consistently. While high-intensity workouts offer impressive per-minute calorie burn, long-term adherence is key to achieving sustained calorie expenditure and fitness benefits.


Emmanuel Ofori - eMotivates 

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Fitness Professional


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