A lot of factors go into how effective an exercise is at burning calories. The technique you use, how many muscles are involved, and the so-called After Burn Effect (how long your energy expenditure says raised after your workout is done) all come into play.
So if your specific objective is to use up kilojoules, what is the best thing to do? Dr Tim Church, exercise researcher and Professor of Preventative Medicine at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Centre, says there is a simple principle to keep in mind.
According to Church, the longer and harder you push your muscles, and the more muscle groups you engage, the greater your energy expenditure will be. And while the After Burn effect is real, it peters out quickly and is quite negligible. Basing your workout choices on this effect is probably not going maximise their efficiency.
Absolute comparisons between different types of workouts are difficult, but general evaluations on how many calories they burn per minute have been conducted. These averages are then multiplied by however long an exercise session is.
However, as John Porcari, who has conducted some of these studies himself, says, there is so much variety that individuals’ scores differ widely. Porcari is a Professor of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, and suggests that your class instructor, workout length and technique will affect your overall calorie consumption. As well as these factors, your weight and fitness level play a part.
Choose What Suits You Most
Ultimately, a regime that you are actually able to stick to and do on a regular basis is going to be the most successful for you. If you enjoy something like CrossFit and Tabata, and are limited for time, these multi-muscle stimulators could be perfect for you. They last 20 minutes and studies have found (though, as mentioned above, they are not perfectly accurate) that they burn between 260 and 280 calories in that time.
If you need to expend a decent amount of energy in just a few minutes, because you need to get to an important meeting or you want more time to play your favourite casino games you could consider HIIT. This stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and involves a few minutes of incredibly hard exertion, followed by a cool down period of a similar length. However, although effective, it is too much for many people to sustain and is so demanding that recovery times are longer. You may well find that it suits you, but it is equally likely that you won’t.
Porcari says that a better way to assess the energy demands and effectiveness of an exercise is to evaluate the results when it is done at comfortable pace. And he recommends that you do the same when you’re choosing your personal workouts. Choose things you enjoy, and do them at a pace you can manage. You’re much likelier to stick to them that way. And that could just as easily be a more traditional activity, like cycling or using a stepper machine, as CrossFit, Zumba or another fitness craze.
Many People Find Running Best
Running gets through a lot of calories, but it is also among the most sustainable and comfortable exercises. This combination makes it the most suitable option for many people. Research also suggests that a half-hour run uses the same average amount of kilojoules as a 20-minute CrossFit class. So if you find jogging more agreeable, do an extra 10 minutes of that rather than 20 minutes of something you don’t like. This may be an old-school option, but it is a classic because it works!