Workout Calorie Comparison

Workout Calorie Comparison:

Which workout brings on the best burn?

When it comes to burning calories, not all workouts are created equal. You may surprise which workouts burn the most calories!

Studio 5 Contributor Melanie Douglass, R.D., NASM, shares her top calorie blasting workouts.

Last month I had to spend ten days in Australia (yes, “had” to)… I was out of my workout comfort zone, so I decided to conduct a little experiment. I tried as many different workouts as I could in ten days… I gave each workout my best, all-out, 100% effort. Then I put all the data into a chart to compare the calorie burn rate per minute. The reason? I was in a workout rut… you may know this feeling! I needed some bio-feedback to help me get motivated and ensure I was spending time doing the workouts that really helped me achieve my personal goal – to burn, burn, burn! I used my polar heart rate monitor, which calculates my calorie burn based on my heart rate (effort), gender, age, and weight.

You can find a similar heart rate monitor on Amazon (Polar®):

Calorie burn is dependent on how hard you work and how much you weigh. If you weight more, you’ll burn more… if you weigh less, you’ll burn less. Take a look:

*Based on 135-pound person

**BodyPump is a popular weight-training class in gyms, my calorie burn may have been low because there was a lot of downtime to change weights, adjust the equipment, etc. Additionally, strength workouts continue burning and essentially burn more calories after the workout.

Now, here’s how to apply this you – and your unique health and fitness goals:

1) If you have access to a calorie-measurement tool (HR monitor, BodyBugg, etc), try your own experiment! Try 5 – 10 new workouts over a few weeks or months to see which ones you enjoy the most and which ones speak to your body and your goals.

2) Remember the first few times you do ANY workout, you won’t work as hard. Learning a new activity sometimes causes you to “stand around” a bit while you observe and figure it out. Give these new, experimental workouts (especially the ones you seem to love/enjoy/connect with) a few tries before you assess the average calorie burn for that activity.

3) If you don’t have access to equipment to do a similar experiment, then use my chart – and keep in mind:

a. For most activities: if you push yourself, work as hard as you can and really contract every muscle through every movement, you will get a good efficient workout, no matter what! If you hate a certain activity and just go through the motions, even if “theoretically” it burns the most – you won’t. Calorie burning takes effort… but the reward is always worth it!

b. I burn the most in “step aerobics” because I love step so much. I give it a good effort and take up lots of floor space and that helps me burn more. So if you love something, you’ll likely burn more in that activity. Personal bias aside, step is a very effective workout because the step platform engages your large, lower body muscles the entire workout.

c. Cardio workouts have a higher calorie burn, but the post-workout burn drops off quickly. Strength workouts (sculpting, yoga, pilates) have a lower calorie burn per hour – but have a higher “Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC” – which means they keep your metabolism up longer. The point? You need both cardio and strength workouts for a balanced fitness program. Get 2 – 3 good, solid cardio workouts and 2 – 3 good, solid strength workouts in each and every week.

d. Interval Training (Bootcamp or TONIC) are really good workouts because they have a high calorie burn – and a good EPOC, so intervals burn high calories during exercise, and keep the metabolism elevated longer afterward as well.

No matter what form of exercise you choose to do, the point is to get 15 – 60 minutes, at least 6 days a week! Everything you do counts. You don’t have to do a set amount of time to make a difference and if you miss a day, so what? Just start again the next day and get back on track so you can look and feel your best. J

Email me anytime!

You can check Melanie’s TONIC Home workout DVDs at:

or on Amazon:

StepTonic on

DanceTonic on

SculptTonic on

Add comment