Top 10 Workouts That Burn Calories Twice Faster Than Traditional Cardio

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You don’t need a treadmill to torch calories. In fact, if your goal is to burn fat, high intensity workouts and circuits are essential. Aside from being a quick method to getting in a great workout, intense periods of work with short recovery segments, allow you to keep the workout intensity high while still maintaining form; they’re also extremely effective for transforming your physique. Intense circuits also stimulate muscle-building hormones and put your body in a perfect state to build lean mass.

The key to making an interval workout is including movements that challenge your entire body in a single exercise. Aim to include at least two exercises back to back before allowing your body to recover. Catch your breath in between rounds, but don’t allow yourself to recover fully before attacking the next set. Include at least a day of rest in between workouts as these intervals are intense, and you’ll see results a treadmill could never replicate. To get you started, try these 10 alternatives to traditional cardio.

1. 4 rounds of circuits

Round One:

– Burpees
– Mountain Climbers
– Jumping Jacks
Three circuits: 10 reps first round, 15 reps second round and 20 reps third round. Non-stop no rests.
– Jump rope 3 minutes
Rest 1 minute

Round Two:
– Walking Lunges with Kettlebell exchange underneath leg
– Pushups
– Lunge Jumps
– Walk-outs (inchworms)
Three circuits: 45 seconds per exercise with a 15 second break between each exercise and circuit.
– Jump rope 3 minutes
Rest 1 minute

Round Three:
– Traveling Kettlebell Squats
– TRX Pullups
– Box Jumps
– TRX Jack Knives
Three circuits: 45 seconds per exercise with a 15 second break between each exercise and circuit.
– Jump rope 3 minutes
Rest 1 minute

Round Four:
– Traveling Side Lunges
– Dips
– Speed Skaters (lateral jumps)
– Plank to Pushup
Three circuits: 45 seconds per exercise with a 15 second break between each exercise and circuit.

2. Legs and core blaster

How to do it: Perform the paired exercises (marked “a” and “b”) as alternating sets, so you’ll complete one set of “a,” rest as directed, then one set of “b,” and repeat until all sets are completed. The remaining exercises are done as straight sets.

Trainer Tip: These can be done with a dumbbell or cable if a medicine ball isn’t available.

1a. Bulgarian Split Squat: 3 sets, 10 reps (each leg). Rest: 60 sec.

Stand lunge length in front of a bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Rest the top of one foot on the bench behind you. Lower your body until your rear knee nearly touches the floor, then drive your heel into the floor to come back up. Complete all your reps on that side and then switch legs and repeat.

2a. Single-leg Swiss Ball Leg Curl: 3 sets, as many reps as possible (each leg). Rest: None

Lie on your back and rest your heels on a Swiss ball. Drive the heel of one foot into the ball to raise your butt off the floor. Raise the opposite leg in the air. Keeping your hips elevated, bend the knee of the working leg as in a leg curl.

2b. Single-leg Glute Bridge: 3 sets, as many reps as possible (each leg). Rest: 30 sec.

Lie on your back and bend one knee 90 degrees. Plant that foot on the floor and extend the other leg away from you. Keeping your core braced, drive your heel into the floor and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line. Complete your reps on that side and then switch sides.

3a. Plank: 3 sets, hold as long as possible. Rest: None

Get into pushup position and then bend your elbows to rest your forearms on the floor. Brace your abs and hold your body in a straight line for as long as possible.

3b. Medicine Ball Woodchop (above): 2 sets, 20 reps (each side). Rest: 30 sec.

Hold a medicine ball with both hands and stand with feet staggered, left foot in front. Extend your arms to the outside of your left knee. Explosively swing your arms diagonally over your right shoulder as if you were reversing the path of a woodchop with an ax. Complete your reps on that side and then switch sides.

3. Dumbbell circuit for fat loss

Do each exercise for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds before jumping into the next one. After one round, rest for 60 seconds, then repeat. Do four total rounds.

 Dumbbell Goblet Squat
Duration: 30 sec
Rest: 30 sec
– Pushups
Duration: 30 sec
Rest: 30 sec
– Dumbbell Row
Duration: 30 sec
Rest: 30 sec

– Salute Planks
Duration: 30 sec
Rest: 30 sec
– Ice Skater Jumps
Duration: 30 sec
Rest: 30 sec

Rest: 60 seconds
Sets: 4

4. Strength and conditioning circuit

Rounds: 3
Rest: 45 seconds between each round

– Dumbbell swing: Grip the dumbbell so the plate ends are perpendicular to your body. Sit the hips back (as though you were deadlifting) and flex knees. Swing the dumbbell between your legs and push through the heels to raise the weight. The hips should create enough momentum to raise the weight. Eventually progress to the point where the weight finishes above the head. Reverse the motion in a controlled fashion, allowing the dumbbell to fall to its original position. That’s one rep.
Duration: 30 seconds

– Inverted Row with Chairs: Sit on the floor between two chairs with the seats facing away from each other and a sturdy broomstick/bar lying on top of both. Tightly grab onto the bar and make sure you body is straight from the top of your head to your ankles. The only thing touching the ground should be your heels. Keeping your stomach and butt tight, pull yourself up until your hands are at your sides.
Duration: 30 seconds

– Squat jumps: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Start by doing a regular squat, then engage your core and jump up explosively. When you land, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep. Land as quietly as possible.
Duration: 30 seconds
Plank Duration: 30 seconds

– High knees 
Duration: 30 seconds

5. Kettlebell complex

Directions: Perform exercises 1A–1C in sequence, then repeat on the other arm. Rest three minutes, then repeat for five total rounds. Go on to the Turkish getup, performing reps for five straight minutes. Working one side at a time makes for longer sets and more calorie burning—it also challenges your core.

1a) One-Arm Snatch
Reps: 10

1b) One-Arm Clean And Press
Reps: 8
Hold a kettlebell and bend your hips back so your torso moves closer to the floor and the weight hangs just above it. Heave the ’bell up to shoulder level. Brace your abs and press it straight overhead.

1c) One-Arm Goblet Squat
Reps: 8
Hold the kettlebell under your chin and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned out slightly. Squat as low as you can.

2) Turkish Getup
Reps: As many as possible in five minutes
Directions: Lie on your back on the floor. Hold the ’bell over your chest with your right hand. Bend your right knee 90 degrees and plant your foot. Raise your torso off the floor. Now use your right foot to raise your hips off the floor while you support your body with the left hand. Sweep your left leg back and rest on your left knee. Stand up, then reverse the motion to return to the floor. Perform one rep on your right, then one rep on your left. Repeat for five minutes.

6. Non-traditional cardio circuit

Perform as a circuit:

– 10 Burpees followed by one-minute rest
Sets: 3
– 20 Hopping Lunges followed by one-minute rest
Sets: 3

– Three-minute Plank followed by one-minute rest
– Two-minute Plank followed by one-minute rest
– One-minute Plank

 Lateral Skater Hop: 20 reps (each side) followed by one-minute rest
Sets: 3

– Squat to Press with Dumbbells (20 lb): 25 reps followed by one-minute rest
Sets: 3

7. Endurance-builder workout

1a. Single Arm Clean
Sets: 3
Reps: 5

Start with an overhand grip on a dumbbell in between your legs, your feet about shoulder width apart, and your core engaged. Bend your knees and hinge at the hips, keeping your back straight. The dumbbell should be about knee height. Explosively extend your hips, knees, and ankles while shrugging your shoulder at the same time. Catch the dumbbell at shoulder height with your knees softy bent. Stand up tall and slowly lower the weight before repeating.

1b. Single Leg Box Jumps
Sets: 3
Reps: 5

Stand on one leg directly in front of a box that is about mid-shin height. Keep your torso upright as you lower yourself into a partial squat. Explosively drive up and making sure your full foot lands on the box. Standing up tall before lowering yourself back down and repeating.

2a. Barbell Squat to Press
Sets: 3
Reps: 8

Hold a barbell with a clean grip, keeping your upper arm parallel to the ground. Squat down by pushing your hips back, making sure to keep your torso upright. As you drive off your heels and stand back up, forcefully press the bar and lock it out overhead. Lower the bar back to the clean grip before repeating.

2b. Pull-up
Sets: 3
Reps: 8

Grab a pull-up bar with an overhand grip. Keeping your core tight and drive your shoulder blades down as you pull your chin over the bar. Slowly lower.

3a. Lateral Lunges
Sets: 3
Reps: 8 (each side)

Holding a dumbbell at chest height in goblet fashion, take a large step to your right with your right leg while pushing your hips back. Your right foot, knee, and hip should form a straight line. Push off your heel and drive back up. Perform all reps on your right leg before switching.

3b. Single Arm Bent-Over Rows
Sets: 3
Reps: 8

Grab a dumbbell with a neutral grip (palm facing in). While keeping your knees soft, hinge at the hips until your spine forms a 90-degree angle with the ground. Drive your elbow back and squeeze your shoulder blade back at the top of the movement.

4a. Rotational Medicine Ball Slams
Sets: 3
Reps: 8 (each side)

Stand next to a wall, holding a medicine ball at chest height. Explosively pivot your feet and your hips towards the wall as you use your core to throw the medicine ball against the wall.

4b. Ab Wheel Rollout
Sets: 3
Reps: 8 (each side)

Hold the axle of an ab wheel and kneel on the floor. Roll forward just until you can no longer maintain a neutral spine. Roll it back until it’s under your shoulders.

8. MMA endurance workout

Time Needed: 30 minutes

Our Strategy: If exercises are labeled with a number and a letter (1a, 1b, etc.) they should be performed in sequence, one after the other with no rest. Repeat that grouping until all the prescribed sets are complete. Workout 2 should be done as a circuit. Complete one set of each exercise, one after the other without rest and repeat as prescribed. For exercises that prescribe multiple reps (ex. 5, 3, 3), perform the first number on your first set, the second number on your second set, and so on. Repeat as directed.

1a. Box Jump 
Sets: 3
Reps: 6
Using a box or aerobics step high enough to be challenging, squat down slightly, bend your knees, and throw your arms back (A), and then jump onto the box (B).

1b. Swiss-Ball Rollout
Sets: 3
Reps: 10
Rest your forearms on a Swiss ball and spread your feet wide apart (A). Extend your arms, rolling the ball forward until you feel your lower back is about to sag (B). Hold the position one second, and then roll the ball back toward you.

1c. Push Press
Sets: 3
Reps: 5
Holding a bar at shoulder level, bend your knees (A), then explosively press the weight straight overhead (B).

2a. Weighted Chinup
Sets: 3 Reps: 5, 3, 3
Attach a weight around your waist and perform a chinup as normal. NOTE: Not shown.

2b. Medicine-Ball Slam
Sets: 3
Reps: 6
Hold a medicine ball overhead at arm’s length (A), then throw it into the floor as hard as you can (B). Catch the ball on the rebound and repeat immediately.

3a. Dumbbell Bench Press
Sets: 3
Reps: 5, 3, 3
Lie back on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, the weights at the sides of your chest. Press the dumbbells up explosively, and then slowly lower them back down (take five full seconds).

3b. Plyo Pushup
Sets: 3
Reps: 6
Get into pushup position and lower your body until your chest is about an inch above the floor (A). Explosively push yourself back up so that your hands leave the floor and you can clap in midair (B). When you land, use the momentum to begin the next rep.

4a. Front Squat
Sets: 3
Reps: 5, 3, 3
Allow the bar to rest on your fingertips (A), and squat down as low as you can without your lower back rounding (B). Extend your hips to come back up.

4b. Jump Squat Front Squat
Sets: 3
Reps: 5
Squat until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor (A), then jump as high as you can (B).

9. Dumbbell complex workout

A complex is a series of exercises done back to back using one load. You complete one set of each movement without resting or even setting the weight down in between. This burns a ton of calories, and blasts every muscle in your body.

Sample Workout
Romanian Deadlift x 6
Bentover Row x 6
Reverse Lunge x 6 (each side)
Dumbbell High Pull x 6
Overhead Press x 6
Front Squat x 6
Plyo Pushup x 6

Always choose a weight that you can handle for your weakest exercise (on the plyo pushup, simply set the dumbbells aside). Rest for 90 seconds and repeat the complex for four total rounds.

10. Sled sprint interval

How It Works:
There are two protocols: elite athlete and basic level athlete. For the elite athletes, do a 40-yard sled sprint. Then, increase the distance of each successive sprint by 10 yards until you’ve done a single 150-yard sprint (12th sprint). Now, pyramid down, decreasing the length of the sled sprints by 10 yards every sprint until you’ve ran a 40-yard sprint again.  For the basic level athletes, the distance will increase by 10 yards every two sprints and the pyramid back down will start after the eighth sprint until you reach the final sprint (14th).

Attach a weight belt around your waist, and a rope from the belt to the sled. Step forward so there is no slack in the rope to begin. Step out with one foot far in front of your center of mass, so the heel will strike the ground first, and the foot will then come in contact with the ground. The torso should remain upright at all times throughout each step – don’t lean forward and let the body weight aid in moving the sled.  You want to feel as if your front leg heel dig and hip pull is the only thing moving the sled. Rest 30-60 seconds between sprints for both experience levels.

Workout: 23 total sled sprints

Professional/Elite athlete level:

Sprint 1: 40 yards
Sprint 2: 50 yards
Sprint 3: 60 yards
Sprint 4: 70 yards
Sprint 5: 80 yards
Sprint 6: 90 yards
Sprint 7: 100 yards
Sprint 8: 110 yards
Sprint 9: 120 yards
Sprint 10: 130 yards
Sprint 11: 140 yards
Sprint 12: 150 yards
Sprints 13-23: 140 down to 40 yards (decreasing 10 yards every sprint)

Basic level

14 total sled sprints
Sprint 1: 20 yards
Sprint 2: 20 yards
Sprint 3: 30 yards
Sprint 4: 30 yards
Sprint 5: 40 yards
Sprint 6: 40 yards
Sprint 7: 50 yards
Sprint 8: 50 yards
Sprint 9: 40 yards
Sprint 10: 40 yards
Sprint 11: 30 yards
Sprint 12: 30 yards
Sprint 13: 20 yards
Sprint 14: 20 yards

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