When most people think of calorie-burning, they think of the aerobic exercises typically performed on cardiovascular equipment such as treadmills, ellipticals and stair-steppers. However, there are many exercises that incinerate calories and don't require a gym membership or fancy equipment. Better yet, these exercises are far less time-consuming than traditional cardio. By performing interval-style exercises, you can complete short spurts of high-intensity activity that burn more calories, require less time, and can be performed in the comfort of your living room.
Jump ropes aren't just for recess. In fact, they are a powerful tool that can burn as many calories as running an 8-minute mile. The integration of so many muscle groups is what makes jumping rope such an efficient exercise for calorie burning. Most traditional cardiovascular exercises, such as running and cycling, place the workload on the lower body and neglect the upper body. While jumping rope does work the legs, it also requires constant work from the arms, shoulders and core. Use a jump rope to perform minute intervals, consisting of 60 seconds of exercise followed by 60 seconds of rest. To increase intensity, try using a speed jump rope to perform two passes with the rope on each jump, known as double unders.
Burpees are high-intensity exercises that integrate the entire body and require no equipment, making them a way to really blast calories at home. To perform a burpee, begin in a standing position and then squat down to place your hands on the ground. Kick your feet out behind your body to assume a pushup position. Complete one pushup and then kick your feet back in to resume the squat. Then jump up in the air, extending your arms above your head in one explosive movement. Try performing a set of five to 10 burpees. Give your body a couple of minutes to rest, and then repeat the set.
Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training that was created by Dr. Izumi Tabata while working with Japan's speed-skating team. The protocol calls for eight intervals, each consisting of 20 seconds of maximal effort followed by 10 seconds of recovery. This means the workout is only four minutes long, but it is incredibly intense. At home, use Tabata workouts with body-weight exercises such as pushups or squats. During the 20 seconds of work, perform as many exercises as you can, stop to rest for the 10-second recovery, and then repeat. Focus on maintaining the same level of intensity throughout each interval by aiming to complete as many, or more, of each exercise during subsequent intervals.
Body-Weight Exercise Progression
Choose several powerful body-weight exercises to burn calories at home. To maximize the intensity, focus on performing each exercise as quickly as possible while maintaining proper form. Do a circuit that includes 10 reps each of pushups, situps and squats. Rest as little as possible, and then complete nine reps of each, then eight, and so on.
- Ten Minute Workouts; Chrissie Gallagher-Mundy
- The Women's Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts; Selene Yeager & Editors of Women's Health
Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.