5 cardio exercises that burn more calories than running

Indoor rowing
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

We've got good news: if you hate the treadmill, running isn't the only form of cardio to burn calories and torch fat. Yes, running is free and pretty accessible, and you can head outdoors if staring at yourself in the gym mirror isn't cutting it, but there's plenty of ways to do cardio. 

On average, a person burns between 85 and 140 calories per mile, or between 280 and 520 calories per 30 minutes of running. But if you have an injury or prefer other forms of cardio, other workouts can be as (if not more) effective. 

Below, we cover the five best exercises to burn calories, including estimated calorie burn, what muscles they target, and the benefits of each exercise. So grab your fitness tracker, dig out one of the best jump ropes, and get ready to sweat.

The cardio exercises that burn more calories than running 

Hate running? Add these killer cardio exercises to your routine instead. 

1. HIIT training: up to 450 calories in 30 minutes 

Woman jumping into the air with arms out during HIIT workout

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT as it’s often known, is a series of short bursts of exercise, followed by a period of rest. A typical HIIT workout will consist of burpees, high knees, medicine ball slams, and mountain climbers. 

As your heart rate is continually increasing and decreasing throughout its duration, calorie burn is often high. Unless you’re at a Barry’s class, when you head out for a run, you’ll usually continue to move at a consistent pace, keeping your heart rate relatively stable and therefore burning fewer calories. 

What’s more, a big part of calorie burn is the body’s excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. EPOC relates to how many calories the body burns post-workout as it tries to heal the wear and tear caused. As, by its nature, HIIT is very high impact, calorie burn post-workout is often high.

Workout inspiration:

 2. Cycling: up to 600 calories per 60 minutes  

Image of the top of an exercise bike with someone's hands on it

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If running is too much impact on your joints, cycling is another great way to torch calories. While a gentle bike ride around the park is likely to burn around 364 calories per hour, an intense spin class can burn up to 600 calories per hour. 

Cycling has a much lower impact on your joints, meaning you can often keep going for longer. A 2014 study conducted by The University of North Carolina compared competitive cyclists and runners who exercise for two and half hours for three days. The study found that runners had 87% more muscle soreness and 133% more muscle damage over a 48-hour recovery period compared to cyclists. Check out our picks for the best exercise bikes

Workout inspiration:

3.  Trampolining: up to 1000 calories per 60 minutes  

Trampolines with two people jumping on it from waist down in pink trainers

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

You might not have been on a trampoline since you were a kid, but just ten minutes of bouncing can torch as much fat as 30 minutes of running. On average, men will burn 12.4 calories per minute jumping on a trampoline, and women will burn 9.4. Research conducted by Nasaalso found that trampolining can build more bone and muscle mass than running, due to the increase in G force as you bounce. 

Before you head out to buy a trampoline, let’s talk technique. In order to optimize your calorie burn, stay on the balls of your feet, lean forward, and bend the knees. Bounce deep into the trampoline and squeeze the core. This ensures that all muscles in the body are being used.

4. Indoor rowing: up to 662 calories per 60 minutes  

Man and woman on a rower in a warehouse gym, man is reaching forward to grip the handlebars of his rower

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Indoor rowing is fast becoming one of the most popular ways to work out at the gym and at home, with brands like Peloton rumored to be adding a rower to their collection. It’s great for people who sit down all day, as it forces them to sit with a straight back whilst running. (Here are the best exercises if you sit down all day). 

Plus, if your technique is right, it can also be a full-body workout, as rowing targets the hamstrings, glutes, quads, core, lats, shoulders, back, triceps, and biceps. It’s also lower impact than heading out for a run. 

If sitting on an indoor rower for an hour sounds as hellish as plodding on the treadmill, try joining your local rowing club. 

5. Jump rope: up to 375 calories per 30 minutes 

Woman jumping rope with right knee bent while jumping outdoors against a wall backdrop

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another one that you might not have practiced since you were in the school playground, jump rope is a great way to boost coordination, balance, stamina and circulation. Thanks to the TikTok skipping trend, more of us are investing in one of the best jump ropes, or adding a weighted jump rope for a more intense workout. 

We even answered does jumping rope burn more calories than running here. Spoiler, it does. But we recommend mixing it as part of a HIIT or circuit routine to maximize jump rope benefits. 

Workout inspiration:

Verdict: 5 cardio exercises that burn more calories than running

It’s important to note here, that exercise is about far more than burning calories or losing weight. Exercise releases endorphins that improve your mood, promote better sleep, and help compact health conditions that impact on your mental health. 

For a workout routine to stick, you need to enjoy it, so if you prefer hiking, yoga, or Pilates to any of the exercises mentioned above, that’s fine too! 

More from Tom's Guide

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy. 

With contributions from