The exercises that burn the most calories ranked

We live in a world where beauty is more holistic than ever before – we know what we eat has a direct correlation to our skin and that supplementing our diets can benefit not just the inside but the outside too.

But, the catch 22  to looking and feeling your best is that for many of us it’s a case of ‘so much to do, so little time’. Our modern lifestyles are busier than ever so we want easy – but, even more than that, we don’t want to be spending the little spare time we do have exercising only to be disappointed with the results…are we right?!

With this in mind, we’ve ranked the most popular workouts for burning calories so you can maximise time and get the most bang for your buck…

Note – calories burned are an indication only and will vary according to body weight, intensity and fitness level.

HIIT (high intensity interval training)

Approximate calories burned per hour: 900 to 1,000

HIIT, also know as Tabata training, is a high-intensity exercise ideal for burning lots of calories in a short amount of time.  Generally, it consists of doing 20 second on-off intervals of work with maximum effort when on. A typical HIIT session will include a variety of exercises ranging from burpees and squats to jumping lunges and push-ups – oh what a joy right?! It sounds terrifying, difficult and exhilarating all at the same time – and I can confirm that it is, but the results are definitely worth it.

Sprint intervals

Approximate calories burned per hour:  800  

While running alone definitely delivers a calorie-blasting, if you’re short on time or want results faster, try adding intervals into your run. By upping your pace for periods of time during your workout your body has to work even harder to keep up hence burning even more calories in the process. Try alternating between two minutes as fast as you can then switching to a recovery jog for one minute.


Approximate calories burned per hour: 600 to 850

This one has a broad calorie burning potential because it’s all about how hard you push yourself. Boxing is a full-body workout that engages your legs, glutes, shoulder, back and abs. It’s also lauded for its ability to relieve built-up stress and tension in the mind. The best part? While a partner is a great way to stay accountable, you can do it solo with a heavy bag at home so it’s relatively low cost too!


Approximate calories burned per hour: 600 to 750

Aside from the obvious physical benefits, you’ll find runners are generally pretty happy people too. It’s said to be the exercise that generates the most endorphins, AKA the happy drug. But, there’s no doubt about it, running is hard. However, the good news is, you can build up your running fitness pretty quickly. The key is not to be overly ambitious or you’ll over-exert yourself or give up - for beginners looking to start running try adding an achievable goal to your run each week like an extra 500 metres.


Approximate calories burned per hour: 500 to 1000

Swimming is, without question, an effective way to blast calories. Since swimming is a non-impact sport, it's neutral on common problem areas like the lower back and knees. So if you're recovering from an injury, it's a great option if you still want an energy-burning activity. But, what stroke burns the most?  Generally, backstroke and freestyle will burn a similar amount of calories, but butterfly is where it’s at if you want to really burn. An hour of butterfly, which to us seems impossible, can burn upwards of 1,000 calories!


Approximate calories burned per hour: 600 to 700

Like boxing, rowing engages all the major muscle groups continuously for a long period of time. You're using your legs, shoulders, back, hamstrings, quads, glutes, core, triceps and biceps. Rowing outside is ideal for maximum fat burning as inside on an ergometer conditions are more controlled and therefore less challenging.


Approximate calories burned per hour: 500 to 700

Zumba is one of those workouts where you're having so much fun that it doesn't feel like exercise at all. It’s essentially a one-hour dance party, which means you’re too busy dancing to focus on how exhausted you are! It’s a great all-rounder workout that helps to tone your abs, legs, and arms.


Approximate calories burned per hour: 500-800

Spin classes are promoted as the ultimate calorie-blaster and for good reason. You can burn more in a one-hour class than a one-hour run, which is pretty impressive. However, the key thing about spin is that you control how much you burn through your resistance, which is why we’ve ranked it here and not higher. Don’t ride through a cycle class on low resistance for an hour and expect to burn 800 calories. Spin is all about endurance and pushing yourself to the max.