What exercises burn the most calories?

February 20, 2017, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Credit: UPM LFE Research Group

Researchers from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) have calculated for the first time the real energy expenditure in different training programs, including both aerobic and anaerobic forms.

The results of this study carried out by the Laboratory of Exercise Physiology Research Group at Faculty of Sciences for Physical Activity and Sport (INEF) from UPM found that the aerobic exercise interposed in a circuit resistance exercise increases oxygen consumption and energy expenditure more than conventional circuit training. Additionally, the training protocol that burnt the most calories was the protocol that required less effort by the participants, although all protocols had the same duration and intensity.

These results can help design programs with different types of exercises equivalent to energy expenditure, which will allow accurate comparison of their effects on health results.

Both resistance ability during prolonged exercise (cardiovascular capacity) and muscular strength are related to future health. A person with a greater cardiovascular capacity and/or higher muscular strength will likely have better health in the future. For this reason, both types of exercise are recommended to improve health. These two types of training are also used in obesity treatments.

The Laboratory of Exercise Physiology Research Group (LFE) from UPM has carried out a study to measure the energy expenditure of three different training programs. The first protocol was performed using resistance machines, the second protocol used a very similar strength, but involved exercises with free weights (bars, disks and dumbbells), and lastly, a protocol that alternated free weight exercises with cardiovascular exercise. The aim of this work was to determine which protocol burns more kilocalories comparing the sessions of same duration and intensity.

The breakthrough point of this study was that the two forms of energy that the body uses to move were measured: aerobic energy that uses oxygen, and anaerobic energy, which does not. Previous studies had only taken into account aerobic energy; therefore, the total energy expenditure was not measured completely. Besides, this study also registered the strength required to fulfill each of the three sessions. Thus, participants scored on a scale of 1 to 10 the strength needed to complete the training program.

The study results indicate that the combined training program alternating strength exercises with cardiovascular exercises was the program with greatest energy expenditure and a lower degree of effort. Thus, the training program that produced the highest total energy expenditure was the one in which participants felt less tired. Specifically, the one hour session had an average expenditure of 259 kcal (311 kcal in males y 203 kcal in females), facing the 203 kcal of the free weight training program, and the 173 kcal of machine training program. Likewise, the participants scored the effort performed in each session with an average of 7.6 points in the combined protocol, 9 in the free weight and 8.4 for the machine .

Researchers indicate that "these results have a promising practical application in people with overweight and obesity, people who perform with more difficulty and effort and really need to produce higher in order to maximize the loss of body fat."

Explore further: Body builders aren't necessarily the strongest athletes

More information: Pedro J. Benito et al. Cardiovascular Fitness and Energy Expenditure Response during a Combined Aerobic and Circuit Weight Training Protocol, PLOS ONE (2016). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164349

Related Stories

Body builders aren't necessarily the strongest athletes

November 3, 2016
An increase in muscle size with exercise may not be directly related to an increase in muscle strength, according to a recent analysis of the literature.

Research study analyzes the best exercise for obese youths

September 22, 2014
What exercise program can best fight the "epidemic" of teen obesity? According to a study published in the JAMA Pediatrics, by combining aerobic exercise with resistance training.

Does your training routine really need to be that complicated?

August 5, 2014
A new study just published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism investigated the value of the Pre-Exhaustion (PreEx) training method and found that that the various arrangements of different exercise ...

For those short on time, aerobic, not resistance, exercise is best bet for weight, fat loss

January 2, 2013
A new study led by North Carolina researchers has found that when it comes to weight- and fat loss, aerobic training is better than resistance training. The study is believed to the largest randomized trial to directly compare ...

Aerobic exercise bests resistance training at burning belly fat

August 25, 2011
Aerobic exercise is your best bet when it comes to losing that dreaded belly fat, a new study finds.

Strength vs. endurance—does exercise type matter in the fight against obesity?

April 24, 2015
Medical experts widely recommended a combined program of diet and fitness to fight obesity. But when it comes to the type of exercise most effective a reducing weight and body mass—strength training, endurance exercise ...

Recommended for you

Sweet, bitter, fat: New study reveals impact of genetics on how kids snack

February 22, 2018
Whether your child asks for crackers, cookies or veggies to snack on could be linked to genetics, according to new findings from the Guelph Family Health Study at the University of Guelph.

The good and bad health news about your exercise posts on social media

February 22, 2018
We all have that Facebook friend—or 10—who regularly posts photos of his or her fitness pursuits: on the elliptical at the gym, hiking through the wilderness, crossing a 10K finish line.

Smartphones are bad for some teens, not all

February 21, 2018
Is the next generation better or worse off because of smartphones? The answer is complex and research shows it largely depends on their lives offline.

Tackling health problems in the young is crucial for their children's future

February 21, 2018
A child's growth and development is affected by the health and lifestyles of their parents before pregnancy - even going back to adolescence - according to a new study by researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, ...

Lead and other toxic metals found in e-cigarette 'vapors': study

February 21, 2018
Significant amounts of toxic metals, including lead, leak from some e-cigarette heating coils and are present in the aerosols inhaled by users, according to a study from scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public ...

Why teens need up to 10 hours' sleep

February 21, 2018
Technology, other distractions and staying up late make is difficult, but researchers say teenagers need to make time for 8-10 hours of sleep a night to optimise their performance and maintain good health and wellbeing.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.