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12 Most Effective Exercises for a Quick Calorie Burn

If you want to slim down, maximizing your calorie burn is a must.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Let's face it: Long hours at the gym or hitting the pavement on distance running is a deal breaker for many of us. We all want to burn more calories to help out with weight loss and getting lean and shredded. Whether you are a guy who's looking to reveal your abs before beach season, or a woman who's interested in toning up for summer poolside hangouts, maximizing your calorie burn is an absolute must. The great news is that there are plenty of effective exercises for burning calories you can easily work into your routine.

I always recommend structuring your exercises into a circuit. In this case, perform each exercise for 15 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds. Repeat four times per exercise, then move to the next exercises. Complete as many rounds as possible.

Keep reading for the best exercises for burning calories, and for more fitness inspiration, check out 7 Simple Dumbbell Exercises To Lose Weight in 30 Days.

1. Jumping Jacks

fit woman doing jumping jacks exercises for burning calories

If you're curious about the best exercises for burning calories, a solid place to start is with jumping jacks. You can do jumping jacks indoors or outdoors. Speed up the pace for increased difficulty, or slow it down if you need to. Always work toward the fastest pace you can maintain with good form and rhythm.

Begin the movement with your feet shoulder-width distance apart and your arms at your sides. Jump up, and spread your feet out wide while you lift your arms overhead. Bounce back to the starting position, and repeat for the prescribed time.

2. Burpees

burpees demonstration, concept of exercises that destroy your back after 50

If you're ready for a metabolic blaster, burpees are your go-to exercise. You can do a pushup at the bottom, or just quickly bounce back into the next rep. Find a rhythm and intensity you can sustain without getting sloppy.

Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width distance apart. Explosively drop down into a plank position, do a pushup if desired, then quickly jump your feet to your hands. Immediately jump up explosively and reach overhead. Repeat for the prescribed time.

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3. High Knees

woman doing high knees exercise to look and feel younger

High knees are a great field drill and also a workout you can perform anywhere. Aim to get your thigh at least parallel to the ground when you raise your knee. Keep your foot flexed on the raised foot.

Start with your feet hip-width distance apart. One at a time, lift each knee up high toward your chest. Quickly and explosively switch knees. Repeat for the prescribed time.

4. Mountain Climbers

woman doing mountain climbers for weight loss

Mountain climbers blast your core and hip flexor muscles while burning calories and giving you a great workout.

Start in a plank position. Bring one knee up toward your chest, keeping your foot off the ground as you bring it forward. Quickly alternate your legs back and forth. Maintain a braced core, and do not allow your hips to sag during the set. Repeat for the prescribed time.

5. Jump Squats

woman doing jump squats exercises for burning calories

Squat variations are a must for all bodyweight circuit workouts. If jump squats get too difficult, you can revert to regular squats.

Start with your feet shoulder-width distance apart. Squat down, then jump up explosively while reaching your arms overhead. Absorb the landing softly with a squat, and immediately transition into the next repetition. Repeat for the prescribed time.

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6. Jumping Lunges

jump lunges illustration

Lunge variations are an easy way to add coordination and balance training to your bodyweight circuit workout.

Start in a lunge position with one foot forward and one foot back. Jump upward by driving off of both feet. Switch your feet mid-air, landing in a lunge position with your other foot forward. Repeat on both legs for the prescribed time.

7. Plank Jacks

illustration of plank jacks

A plank jack is basically just holding a plank position and then jumping your feet from narrow to wide. I recommend a full pushup plank position, but a forearm plank works as well.

Begin in your desired plank position. Jump your feet out wide, then quickly bounce back to the starting position, keeping your core stable. Repeat for the prescribed time.

8. Bicycle Crunches

fit woman doing bicycle crunches on the floor of gym, concept of floor workout to lose 10 pounds

Bicycle crunches are a great core exercise that adds cross-body core activation to your bodyweight training calorie-burn circuit.

Start by lying on your back with your hands behind your head, your knees bent, and your feet in the air. Bring your left elbow to your right knee while straightening out your left leg. Switch sides, bringing your right elbow to your left knee while straightening out your right leg. Repeat for the prescribed time, alternating sides on each repetition.

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9. Speed Skaters

Speed skaters train lateral power and movement, hitting your glutes and quads with a serious calorie-blasting burn.

Begin in a quarter squat position with one foot slightly behind the other. Leap sideways, pushing up and away with your planted foot and landing on the opposite leg. As you land, swing your other leg behind you, and then reverse the momentum into the next repetition. Repeat for the prescribed time.

10. Box Jumps

woman doing box jumps

Box jumps are a great plyometric exercise to add some extra kick to your calorie-burning circuit.

Stand in front of a plyometric box or bench. Jump up onto the box with both feet, landing softly and standing all the way up at the top. Step back down one foot at a time, or jump back down, then immediately jump up again into the next repetition. Repeat for the prescribed time.

11. Skipping Rope

woman jumping rope, demonstrating exercise habits to slow muscle aging

Skipping rope is an amazing way to quickly burn calories—especially when performed with high intensity.

Begin standing with a jump rope. Skip the ripe using a double or single-leg hop. Find a rhythm, and continue for the target time.

12. Step-ups with Knee Raises

The final exercise in our exercises for burning calories is step-ups with knee raises.

Stand in front of your step, bench, or low platform. Step up with your right foot while lifting your left knee up toward your chest. Pause at the top, then step down with your left foot, followed by your right. Repeat, alternating legs for time.

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT
Tyler Read is a personal trainer and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 15 years. Read more about Tyler
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