Everyone likes to save time and look good. But during the fall and winter holidays, we are all pressed for time between parties, shopping, entertaining and work. This, more than any other time of year, is when clients ask me, “What workout will burn the most calories fast?”
I’ve created a list of the five biggest calorie-burning workouts, but I won’t tell you exactly how many calories you will burn in each. Calories burned depends on your current fitness level, how much you weigh, the speed you go at, and the size weights you use. If you are having an “off” day, you might burn significantly less calories because you are not putting forth the same effort as your good days. To really monitor your calories, get a calorie tracker like Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, and my favorite, the BodyMedia Arm Band. If you work really hard, you can burn upwards of 600-1,000 calories a session.
I am a yogi and have enjoyed a Pilates class or two in my time, but those workouts are not where the biggest calorie burn lies. It can be found in the following five workouts, on a machine, in a class, outside, at home or on the road. Besides your calorie tracker reading, you will know they are burning more calories than what you are doing now by the amount you sweat, how out of breath you get, and how sore you are afterwards. These workouts are HARD WORK and they all feature cardio intervals that use your body weight to melt fat and tone muscle.
You’ll love to hate them, and love your body afterwards.
1) On a machine: For 30 years the StairMaster has been the toughest machine workout at the gym. You would have to run at 7 miles per hour on a treadmill for a full hour to get the same calorie burn as 1mph on the StairMaster in the same duration. I recommend a shorter workout, spending about 20 minutes on the machine, utilizing the interval setting for hard work, then active recovery. After that, you can stretch and get on with your day. It’s a great booty-boost and core workout with big calorie burn. If you have more time, do 10 minute intervals on the steps, then add in multitasking functional workouts with weights for a total body blast. The best part? Stairmaster now has an at-home version that’s shorter, quiet, and portable! It’s called the SM3.
2) At a Gym Class: CrossFit/UXF at NYSC/BSC/WSC/PSC, Orange Theory Fitness
These small group trainings feel like practice for an athletic sport or a training course for natural disasters/the end of the world. If you can make it through these classes, you can probably make it out of a catastrophic event. Even the locations look different than your average gym with TV monitors, green turf, obstacle courses and more. Calorie burn? No problem. The warm-up to these small group trainings is as intense as most fitness class workouts. Plyometric jumping moves, TRX body weight exercises, obstacle courses, coupled with rowing, running, weights, push-ups, tire rolls, box jumps, and competition with yourself (not just others) makes the difference. You keep track of your heart rate or reps and as the sets continue, you try to top your best effort from the set before. You’ll sweat, you’ll cry, you’ll be an athlete.
3)Outside: Bootcamps/Tough Mudder
Speaking of disaster preparedness, crawling on your belly through mud, leaping over haystacks, scaling walls, and wading through water will make you forget you are working out. The calories tick away without you noticing them or the clock when you get your friends and go outside for some down-and-dirty fun. Check out the newest mud runs in your area, and train for them in a local boot camp. Between burpees, sprints and long-held planks, you’ll hurt too good to notice that your body flab turned to fab.
4) At home on TV: P90X/Insanity/TurboFire DVDs
P90X works one muscle group in a session, so if you have time to work out most days each week, this will burn and chisel everything. If you are in good shape and don’t have 6 days to focus on one body part, Insanity adds plyometrics to get you a full-body workout and leave you gasping for air before you get ten minutes in. Guys and girls love these videos, just be sure to listen to your body and back off if you need to. Turbofire is more aerobic and kickboxing centric, with lots of plyometric jumps and “fire drills” to fire up your metabolism. Times of each workout vary, and you get several DVDs with each box set. Get ready to see changes in your body and energy level when doing these routines!
5) On the road: My Fit Travel Workout DVD! If you have only 30-minutes and no equipment, but want to burn off the bad stuff that travel throws at you, this routine, with scenic video segments shot around the world, will give your body a full workout while your mind gets a vacation. Plyometric cardio intervals with body-weight exercises blast fat and leave you sleeping like a baby, weather in a hotel or your grandmom’s couch for Thanksgiving.
Trainer tip: if you are recovering from an injury or just starting out a workout routine, you can’t aim for the biggest calorie burn workouts because you’ll risk injury, fainting, throwing up, or worse. Getting tough takes time. The more you work at it, the more calories you will burn.
I saw a great quote once that said “Working out first makes you feel like dying, then you feel reborn!” Calorie burn is just an added benefit to looking good and feeling more alive than ever.
Nicole Glor is the founder and president of NikkiFItness. She is a 35-year-old fitness expert, author of The Slimnastics Workout, and the star of 9 fitness DVDs including the new 2013 Seasonal Affective Disorder Workout video, Hard Core Abs DVD, Fit Travel Workout DVD, Booty Camp, The Slimnastics DVD, Red Carpet Runway Workout, Military Wife Workout, Baby Bootie Camp, and the Beach Bride Destination Wedding Workout (Amazon). Nikki’s workouts have been featured in over 100 national media outlets including the New York Times, Live! With Kelly and Michael, Fox & Friends, GMA Health, Shape, Self, Fitness, and Women’s Health. She is also an AFAA certified NYC personal trainer, group fitness instructor at Crunch in Manhattan, and a 200hr RYT YogaFit/Yoga Alliance trained yoga instructor. Her “Slimnastics” workouts focus on multitasking toning and plyomentric cardio intervals (HIIT- High Intensity Interval Training) to cut workout time in half and boost metabolism. Search for “NikkiFitness” on Facebook and Twitter, and get the free newsletters, music playlists, video demos and DVDs at www.nikkifitness.com