How To Burn More Calories At The Gym

iStock_000012850370XSmallFor some of us, exercise is more of a chore than it is a stress reliever or an enjoyment. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love sweating it out on the treadmill either. I understand that there are many benefits to working out, and that’s why I do it. I work out a few times a week to balance out my sedentary work life, but at the gym, things can get stale pretty quickly. I’d rather work out vigorously for a short period of time and burn a lot of calories than take it slowly.

I’m usually trying to balance my calorie intake with my energy output, so I’ve been trying to find various ways to burn more calories by doing workouts on the same equipment. These machines, including the treadmill, stair master, stationary bike and elliptical trainer, can usually be adjusted to your comfort level, but there’s no question that pushing your comfort level also burns more calories.

Here’s how I’ve been successful in burning more calories on equipment at the gym:

Increase the Incline

Of course, running and walking uphill burns more calories simply because it’s more difficult and strenuous. However, running uphill can take some training.

The good thing about machines like treadmills, is that you don’t have to increase the incline drastically. Even walking or running at an incline of 0.50 will burn more calories than a 0.00 incline.

You can adjust the incline as your body adjusts. If you are not used to walking or running on an incline, take it slow. The first week, try a 0.50 incline, followed by a 1.0 the next.

Even if you walk on an incline for only part of the time you are working out, you are still burning more calories.

Switch it Up

When you do the same workout over and over again, you start to find shortcuts and easier ways to do the workout. Some people  hold the handles in front of them on the treadmill, for instance, or rely on momentum too much.

Changing your routine will burn more calories because you will begin to use different muscle groups, engage different areas of your body, and you won’t be as comfortable with the equipment so you won’t rely on shortcuts.

If you usually go straight to the elliptical for your cardio, switch to the stair climber for a portion of the time.

This also can prevent you from getting bored at the gym, which is a common excuse for cutting your workout short.

Add Some Weight or Resistance

Adding resistance on equipment or holding weights when working out without equipment can burn significantly more calories and provide you with a better workout all together. It also helps with muscle definition.

If you are doing jumping jacks, hold bean bags. If you are on the elliptical trainer, increase the ‘level’ at which you are using it. Even a small amount of weight, or one level, can go a long way.

It will seem difficult at first, but your body will get used to it and soon you’ll be wanting to increase the resistance even more.

Short Period of High Intensity Cardio

When I was in a fitness boot camp last year, the instructors always told us that this is what would burn the most calories. When I was researching the validity of it, I found out that working out for a short period of time with high intensity, then slowing down, then repeating this, is indeed a high calorie burner.

The reason for this is that the high intensity cardio increases your heart rate. When you slow down, your heart rate is still high. When you increase the intensity again, your heart rate increases again.

At the gym, to do this, I sprint for around 2 minutes, then lower my speed to a brisk walk for 2 minutes. I increase my speed again to a sprint, then I lower it. This keeps my heart rate up even though I’m not working hard consistently. The higher your heart rate, the more calories you are burning. This is also good for increasing your cardiovascular strength.

If you can combine these tips and tailor your workout, you will burn substantially more calories than if you stick with your same old routine.

How do you burn more calories at the gym?


How To Burn More Calories At The Gym — 14 Comments

  1. We let our gym membership expire and decided not to renew! We didn’t make enough trips there to really justify the cost. Therefore, we are left to exercise in the great outdoors…or with exercise videos and/or weights at home. Great tips!

  2. I mostly just run at the gym, but recently I’ve been switching it up with some free weights and the stair master. It catches my body off guard, but it makes my body more well rounded overall.

  3. Well, uh, I’m not a gym dude. I get a workout doing my job every day! BUt it’s neat how gym stuff matches real stuff. I lift stuff and walk stuff up inclines,and the routine gets changed up depending on the jobsite I”m at.

  4. I no longer have a gym membership. About 15 years ago, I set up a home gym with a weightlifting cage, bench, treadmill, bicycle trainer and dumb bells. I do my weightlifting before I do my aerobic or treadmill activity. It is supposed to help increase muscle building. I could do my aerobic activity on different days instead.

  5. I don’t have a gym membership but doing HIIT works well for short training sessions, and doing long, sustaining workouts like long runs does the trick for me. I’ve had some surprising workouts be very effective. LIke one day I played dodgeball in the sand and could not believe how many calories I burned and it didn’t even feel like a workout. Maybe being somewhat scared burns calories? 🙂

  6. I find that using video workouts like P90X and insanity, which aren’t for everyone, helps keep me from being bored. I also find that it’s easier to stick to working out for a long period of time if you literally write out what you are going to do on a piece of paper. That way you won’t leave till you get everything done. Longer workout= more calories burned. You can’t just focus on cardio workouts, you need to build muscles by doing isometric, or weightlifting. Lean muscle helps burn fat. There are about a million and one tricks to working out, you just need to find something that works for you.

  7. I’m always switching it up as muscles can get used to doing the same thing over and over. One day I may run, the next the stair climber, squats, bench… etc. I drink plenty of water and simply keep moving. If one sits at a desk most of the day take the stairs while you are at work and burn calories whenever you can. Park your car further from the entrance if you drive, walk to work if you can.Forget the elevator, make moving your body a calorie burning festival everywhere you are even if it’s slow going. Great post Daisy.

  8. I just signed up for an intervals class with a trainer at my gym. I’ve never paid for classes before, but the results this trainer produces are AWESOME. We do a lot of really intense cardio, as well as resistance training and switching up our exercises (she had us in the pool last week, for example). I’ve never worked so hard in my life, and I’m a lifelong athlete!

    • That’s great. I do circuit training 3-4 times a week and I love it. I like how I can get cardio and strength in the same workout and not have it take hours. When you work out at high intensity, you can work out for a shorter time. Keep me posted on your results. I am interested to hear how things go.

  9. Hi Daisy Flower, I Read Your Post And I Find It Very Hulpful , And I Like How You Have describe, And Give Us The Best Way To way to use treadmil, This information About running at an incline of 0.50, i will burn more calories than a 0.00 incline it’s new For Me So thank you

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