The most universal yet painfully boring way to burn off calories is running on the treadmill. Of course, you can nuke more than 500 calories in a 45-minute jaunt on that lifeless conveyor belt, so lack of thrills aside, it does the job. But the people who flood cardio row during gym rush hour seem to possess a lack of ingenuity. There are more ways to improve your “calories in, calories out” ratio, and they’re all hiding in plain sight. This quick list provides five underrated ways to burn 500 calories, treadmill free.
1. HIT SOMETHING
We don’t know where you live, but chances are there’s a boxing gym in your town. Most of these steamy dives offer group classes or private instruction for those looking to get in shape while learning the sweet science. A typical class involves jump-rope work, hitting the heavy bag with combos, working the mitts with your instructor and performing various boxing conditioning drills. Most finish with a hearty serving of push-ups and ab exercises. A one-hour class can burn up to 1,000 calories, but you also can nuke 500 with 30 minutes of heavy-bag work in the privacy of your own garage.
2. GET WET
That pool at your gym isn’t just for the seniors and their floaty dumbbells. By exercising your inner Michael Phelps, you can add a welcome change to your current cardio routine. The freestyle stroke, the one most people are familiar with, can help you burn 500 calories in a 30-minute session, if you keep the intensity high and rest periods short.
3. MASTER YOUR BODYWEIGHT
We’re all familiar with the body benefits of heavy weight training, but moving your bodyweight with calisthenic-type activities such as push-ups, crunches, jumps and lunges also can be a fun departure from your run-based cardio. By working bodyweight exercises in circuit fashion, ideally alternating opposing or unrelated bodyparts, you can burn 515 calories in 45 minutes. Or you can try the Insanity Training system from Beachbody to hit the 500 mark in less time.
4. COMBINE WEIGHTS AND CARDIO
A better use of your gym time would include moving big weight and getting your cardio — at the same time. Between your big lifts, try running in place, shadowboxing or doing jumping jacks for 30 to 60 seconds. This “built-in” cardio will help you keep your metabolic engine running hot and can help you burn 500 calories in 30 to 40 minutes or less, if you keep the weights heavy. This type of training also helps keep your body burning calories long after your last rep.
5. FIX SOMETHING
The gym isn’t the only place you can get fit. Your weekend home-improvement projects also can whittle away at your daily calorie count. Believe it or not, you can approach 500 calories in 45 minutes of sawing wood, chopping wood, roofing your house or mowing your lawn. Sadly, this leaves one less reason for you to postpone attacking the “honey do” list this Saturday.
All calorie counts are courtesy of the American College of Sports Medicine and are estimates based on a 180-pound male. For more specific calorie expenditure tables or activity suggestions, visit acsm.org.