10 Calorie-Busting Exercises to Try If You’re Bored with Running

Updated: Jun. 11, 2017

Running routine got you down or just not a fan of jogging? Not to worry: You have a ton of fitness alternatives—and they even burn more calories.


Indoor cycling

What burns more calories than running? It’s an ongoing argument between runners and cyclists—and with these two activities it all comes down to intensity. For a high-intensity cycling workout, CycleBar’s Lisa Niren recommends an indoor cycling class. “The group environment fosters a sense of camaraderie that results in riders holding each other accountable and allows them to push themselves beyond their limits and really work to their max potential,” says Niren. “The high-intensity intervals are designed to spike your heart rate, rev up your metabolism and burn fat.” Crucially, the intervals continue to burn calories and keep the metabolic rate high for up to 48 hours after the class. “This after-burn affect, more commonly known as excess post oxygen consumption (EPOC), changes the game, providing you with an extremely efficient and effective workout,” says Niren. “As these intervals build lean muscle, your body continues to burn fat all day long, even at rest.” For a 120-pound person in a 60-minute indoor cycling class, calories burned biking will be approximately 700 to 850 calories depending on the intensity of the class and the amount of effort exerted. To maximize caloric burn and after burn affects, it’s important to keep the intensity up, perform as many intervals as possible, and keep your form controlled.



We’re not talking a leisurely swim here, but if you choose the right stroke and maintain a high level of intensity, calories burned swimming can be more than running. “Swimming is one of my favorite exercises because it not only involves your entire body but also puts less stress on your joints,” reveals Dempsey Marks, fitness expert and creator of the PreGame Fit fitness and lifestyle program. “With each stroke you must use your legs, arms, and core just to stay afloat. That is a great start to calorie burn because of muscle recruitment.” Marks recommends the butterfly stroke to maximize calorie burn and says an average 150-person person will burn 400 calories per half hour. A more popular stroke, such as the breast stroke, will burn 375 calories per 30 minutes. To add some resistance, swim in an ocean where a current will make you work harder and up the calorie burn.



One of the best “value” exercises—i.e. a high calorie burner—is rowing. “It is a resistance exercise and you utilize your entire body if done properly,” says Marks. “Three of the biggest muscles areas of your body are engaged including your back, legs, and shoulders. Up to nine muscle groups are used—your biceps, triceps, back, shoulders, lats, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core! The higher the intensity of the workout, the more you burn. An average 150-pound person can burn 316 calories per half hour of rowing.” Jenny Schatzle, trainer and founder of the Jenny Schaltze Program, suggests the following 1500-meter rowing interval workout: Warm up for 300 meters; sprint (row as fast and smooth as you can) for 200 meters; recover (slow your pace but keep good form) for 100 meters; sprint for 200 meters; recover for 100 meters; sprint for 200 meters; recover for 100 meters; and sprint for 300 meters.


Rock climbing

You don’t need to live near mountains to reap the health—and mental—benefits of rock climbing, as indoor climbing gyms are opening up across the country. “A climb uses virtually every muscle in your body,” says Dempsey. “Think of it … from the tips of your fingers to the ends of your toes, large group muscles are always engaged such as your back and legs.” The number of calories burned by rock climbing depends on the intensity, pace, and difficulty of the climb. According to Marks, the average 150-pound person can burn up to 400 calories in 30 minutes.

Weighted treadmill walking

Regular walking won’t burn more calories than running, but it can if you add an incline and some weights it can, says Schaltze. “Combining the cardiovascular fast walking with an incline helps strengthen your legs, while holding weights in your hands elevates your heart rate even more while building muscle in your upper body,” she says. Her 25-minute hill-walk-weights workout consists of a 4-minute warm up on an easy walk incline of 3 to 5 percent, followed by a 5-minute walk at an incline of 8, holding 5-lbs weights. (When you’re holding the weights, keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees and let your arms move from front to back, engage your core, stand up straight, and keep the shoulders relaxed.) Next comes a 90-second recovery during which the weights should be set down and the incline brought down to zero. Follow this with a 5-minute walk at an incline of 8 with weights; a 90-second recovery; a 5-minute walk at an incline of 8 with weights; a 60-second recovery; and finally a 3-minute stretch.


Jumping rope

If you’re wondering what activity can burn more calories than running and also make you feel like a kid again, go back to your jumping rope school-days! It’s a simple exercise that burns calories fast and engages the whole body. “The faster you jump, the higher the calorie burn,” says Marks. “An average 150-pound person burns 375 calories per 30 minutes of rope jumping.” This is an exercise that you can incorporate into intensity training by changing the rate of jumping. “Go hard for one minute then back off to a skip,” suggests Marks. “Use this formula to increase the benefits of the workout as well as the calorie burn!”



Schaltze is an advocate of any form of HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout to burn more calories than running. “These workouts are short and effective,” she says. “You burn calories, build muscle, and you don’t need any fancy equipment. With any HIIT workout, I like to combine cardio movements with body weight strength movements to ensure the body burns calories not only during the workout but also after.” Schaltze’s advice is start with basic movements, performing them back-to-back with minimal rest. Her 10-minute HIIT workout consists of 50 jumping jacks, 40 alternating side lunges, 30 tricep dips (using a chair), and 20 squats or squat jumps. Set a timer for 10 minutes and do as many rounds as you can in that time.


Lifting weights

Strictly speaking, lifting weights for 30 minutes may not burn as many calories as running for 30 minutes during the workout period alone, but what lifting weights does do is burn more calories over the following days (and the longer term) due to the after effects of the workout. “Weight training elevates the metabolism post workout for as long as 48 to 72 hours as the body recuperates from the workout,” explains Robert Herbst, personal trainer, coach and world champion powerlifter. “During weight lifting, muscle fibers are broken down which the body needs to repair. Also, the body anticipates even greater stresses in the future so it builds additional muscle. All these processes take energy, which means you are burning calories. Also, the new muscle which is built burns additional calories, even when at rest, just like a six cylinder car burns more gas than a four cylinder one when just stopped at the traffic light.” Here are some awesome reasons to add strength training to your fitness routine.



Schaltze refers to burpees as “the exercise we love to hate”—and for good reason: “After 5 minutes of burpees you’ll be sweaty, and the next day you’ll be sore.” If you’re not familiar with a burpee, the movement is this: squat down, kick your feet out behind you and go into a push-up, bring your feet back to meet your hands and jump up, clapping your hands above your head. “Burpees require a whole body muscle recruitment: you are strength training by doing squats and push-ups, and at the same time your heart rate is elevated to a cardiovascular push,” explains Schaltze. “You are getting the best bang for you buck with this one movement.” Schaltze’s 5-minute burpee workout involves doing as many burpees as you can in 40 seconds, resting for 20 seconds, and repeating for 5 minutes in total. Burpees can burn 10 calories per minute for the average 155-pound person.



Kettlebells—iron or steel weights shaped like a small bowling ball with a handle (to allow for swinging and ballistic movements) — are a fixture in every gym across the country nowadays, and deservedly so. “The unique kettle bell shape creates instability that forces core muscles to engage more than with a traditional barbell or dumbbell,” explains Miami-based fitness trainer and Pilates instructor Grace Albin. “By nature, kettle bell exercises work the back and abdominal muscles simultaneously with the arms or legs. Calorie burn with kettle bells greatly depends on the level of exertion and the biological makeup of the person, but generally accepted guidelines estimate 15 to 20 calories per minute, because the exercise engages many large muscles throughout the body, not just the legs.”