The Best Exercises for Weight Loss, Ranked in Order of Effectiveness

Cranking out any kind of exercise on the regular can help you lose weight, but by strategically planning your sweat fest, you can get to your goal faster—and who doesn’t want that?

To make your workouts as efficient as possible, we ranked the best exercises for weight loss based on calories burned during your workout, including the estimate for the number of kilojoules burned for a 56kg person and a 84kg person (the more you weigh, the more kJ’s you tend to burn on any particular task).

And since we know that the calories burned during your workout aren’t the only ones that matter, we spoke with trainer Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., on how to modify your workout to ramp up the after burn effect. That way, your body can continue to burn calories at a higher rate—even after you hit the showers. Holla!

Now go forth and burn, baby, burn!

The move: Jumping rope (120 skips per minute)
The burn: 2790-4142 kJ/hour
The bonus burn: As it turns out, this little rope is actually a big-time fat burner. Try using a weighted jump rope to engage your arms and shoulders even more.

The move: Running (6 min/km)
The burn: 2368-3510 kJ/hour
The bonus burn: After running at a steady pace, you’ll continue to burn extra calories over the rest of the day. (If that’s not motivation to tackle the treadmill, nothing is). To torch more during and after your workout, add short bursts of sprints or faster running into your jog, says Tamir. He recommends keeping a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio to get the most after burn. For example, if you run for 60 seconds, walk 30 seconds.

The move: Kettlebell intervals
The burn: 2317-3439 kJ/hour
The bonus burn: Tamir says that a HIIT circuit using kettlebells can keep the after burn going for 36 hours after you leave the gym. To get the best results, make sure you’re doing a fluid circuit and not stopping to rest between each move. Tamir recommends switching between upper- and lower-body movements so you can keep exercising for a longer period of time. Try doing a set of kettlebell swings, kettlebell squats, and kettlebell push presses. Then, rest for 15 to 20 seconds after completing the three moves.

The move: Kickboxing
The burn: 2435-3614 kJ/hour
The bonus burn: Whether you’re kicking it on your own or in class, make sure you keep the rest periods between rounds of jabs and kicks super short. Aim for 30 seconds of rest for every 90 seconds of sparring.

The move: Stationary bike (at a vigorous pace)
The burn: 2083-3087 kJ/hour
The bonus burn: To get the most afterburn, Tamir says to start with 10 seconds of intense pedaling and 50 seconds of rest. Then, move to 15 seconds of sprints and 45 seconds of rest, and do 20 seconds of sprints 40 seconds of rest after that. Don’t forget to turn up the resistance as you progress!

The move: Rowing machine (150 watts)
The burn: 2012-2983 kJ/hour
The bonus burn: To get maximum torching power, row in super-fast one-minute intervals, and take 30- to 60-second active rest periods by alternating between squats, pushups, and planks.

The move: Stairs (77 steps/minute)
The burn: 1891-2803 kJ/hour
The bonus burn: Whether you’re working the Stair Master or running steps around town, à la Rocky, stair climbing provides a good mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercise. To up the ante, hold a one- to five-pound dumbbell in each hand to get your upper body fired up, too.

The move: Elliptical/arc trainers (resistance level 8)
The burn: 1347-2000 kJ/hour
The bonus burn: If you’re after a better burn, don’t keep the same pace the entire time you’re on the elliptical. Vary the incline and levels of resistance to keep things interesting (read: challenging).

The move: Power yoga
The burn: 945-1404 kJ/hour
The bonus burn: To get the most burn, sign up for a power vinyasa flow class. “Strength-driven practices, where you match the breath with the movement, is where you would have the most afterburn,” says Tamir.

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