How To Do Exercises That Burn More Calories Than Running

For some people, running to stay fit is a lifestyle. Its multitude of health benefits keep it as a frontrunner (so to speak) on the fitness scene, and there are so many fun ways to run these days that half the time it doesn’t even feel like working out. But for others, hitting the pavement is flat-out dreadful. And although it can burn up to 10 calories per minute, it can be difficult to bring ourselves to do it three or four times a week. For those who dread running, check out these exercises from Prevention to burn more calories.

Kettlebell Swings:

This explosive exercise works the big, powerful muscles around your glutes and quads and sends your heart into overdrive, according to research from the University of Wisconsin. In the study, participants burned 20.2 calories a minute and their average heart was 93 percent of its max for the course of a 20-minute workout. “The kettlebell swing works you so hard because it’s not a movement you’re used to,” says Dan John, a strength coach in Salt Lake City and the author of Intervention. “You’re not super efficient at it, which taxes your body.”

Indoor Rowing:

A 185-pound person can burn 377 calories during 30 minutes of vigorous rowing – about 12.5 calorie per minute – reports a Harvard University study. And because you need to utilize the muscles in your arms, legs and back for efficient strokes, it’s a great total-body trainer. Want to row like an Olympian and burn even more calories on the rower?


A 180-pound person burns about 1.43 calories per burpee, says exercise scientist and Spartan Coach Jeff Godin. So if you can hammer out at least seven a minute you’re in the double digits. But you should shoot to average at least 10 every 60 seconds, or a rate of 14.3 calories per minute. Why? Performing just 10 reps at a fast pace can rev your metabolism as much as a 30-second, all-out bike sprint, according to a study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting.

AirDyne bike sprints:

It sounds downright crazy, but Gym Jones manager Rob MacDonald proved that it’s possible to blast 87 calories in one minute on this stationary bike that increases its resistance as you pedal harder.

Jumping rope:

Moderate-intensity rope jumping about 100 to 120 skips per minute burns about 13 calories a minute, according to the “Compendium of Physical Activities”. This mode of exercise uses more muscle groups than jogging, and challenges your balance, and coordination especially if you practice drills that require extra hand and foot skills.

Fat-Tire Biking:

If you haven’t tried this fast-growing cycling sport, you should. You can burn up to 1,500 calories an hour or nearly 25 calories per minute pedaling the heavy, hard-to-turn monster bikes and tackling all types of terrain, all year round, says Mike Curiak, record holder for the 1,000-mile Iditasport Impossible, a fat tire biking race. Reality check: That kind of calorie burn depends on your fitness and strength levels, and your skill. But regardless, it’s sure to be one hell of workout.


If you’ve ever swam laps, you know that just four can feel harder than running four miles. “When you’re running, there’s not much resistance working against you,” says McCall. “When you’re swimming, though, you have to break the surface tension of the water with every stroke and propel your body forward through the water.”

Not only does this make swimming more taxing, but moving through the water is way better for your joints that pounding the ground or repetitively spinning on a bike, adds Clayton. Not to mention, swimming fires up just about every muscle in your body.


Certain types of martial arts including kickboxing, judo, jujitsu, karate, tae kwon do, tai-bo, and Muay Thai can burn tons of calories, especially when you’re sparring.

“When you’re sparring, there’s a reactive element that you don’t get in other sports like running, swimming, and cycling,” explains McCall. “You’re at a higher state of awareness and a higher state of readiness because you don’t know what your opponent’s going to do. Your entire body is engaged.”

Stationary Bicycling:

Unlike outdoor biking, you’re never coasting down a hill or being pushed by the wind at your back when riding a stationary bike or taking a spin class. Because of that, a vigorous effort around 161 to 200 watts, or 15 to 20 miles per hour works you harder than biking outdoors, says McCall.

Pro tip: In a spin class, resistance matters most. “If you’re not really hiking up that resistance, you’re not really doing that much extra work,” McCall says. Instructors typically coach you to spin at a fast pace like 130 beats per minute to keep up with the music, but that can be very difficult to sustain. As long as you’ve got the resistance cranked up, you don’t have to be going much faster than 70 to 90 revolutions per minute, he explains.

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