As the name implies, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) delivers a big punch in a short time frame by alternating short periods of intense activity, with short but sweet rest breaks. Start with a high-energy burst on the Jacobs Ladder machine (if your gym doesn’t have one, sub in the stair stepper) for 30 seconds. With no rest in between, grab two dumbbells and do 24 reps of push-up rows (that’s a push-up followed by a dumbbell row while you hold a plank position). Next up, hold your dumbbells at your shoulders and do 12 squats. Take a hard-earned rest for two minutes and repeat.
If you’re looking for a big burn in a hurry, sign up for a 30-minute express cycling class, or hop on an open bike and sprint some quick hills on your own. Sweating it out in the saddle easily helps you hit that 300-calorie mark. For an added boost, track your stats and race yourself each time you clip in.
Tired of the gym? “If you’re searching for something different and challenging, rock climbing might be just what you’re looking for,” says Josh Biard, a certified personal trainer and athletic performance coordinator at Well & Being at The Four Seasons Resort and Club in Dallas at Las Colinas. “In addition to strengthening and toning muscles, a rock climbing session will boost your heart rate, build stamina and increase flexibility.” And that’s in addition to a big calorie burn. Just remember, if efficiency is the goal, make sure you’re not spending your precious 30 minutes standing around strategizing routes.
If you thought your old rowing machine was only useful as a shelf in the basement upon which you can stash junk, think again. “Not only does rowing enhance your cardio-respiratory system, it’s great for injury prevention, improving muscle and joint mobility and burning body fat,” says Biard. To easily hit 300 calories in 30 minutes, build short 250-meter bursts into your interval rowing workout, he says.
While different strokes have different difficulty levels — and therefore calorie burn potential — 30 minutes in the water can be a powerhouse calorie burner. Suit up and hit the lap pool for a medley of freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly for an efficient, calorie-torching 30 minutes — this half-hour workout from U.S. Masters Swimming gets the job done.
Kettlebells are not only super accessible (most gyms have a set), they’re an easy and efficient way to burn calories through that coveted combo of cardio and strength training, says Biard. “Adding kettlebells to your fitness routine or doing an entire 30-minute kettlebell workout can maximize your time and increase strength, cardio-endurance and flexibility unlike any other single piece of equipment,” he says. Check out these eight kettlebell exercises that will get the job done.