The Best Exercises to Burn Fat in Under 30 Minutes

The most effective to lose weight is to do a combination of cardio and strength training. But if you're in a hurry, these cardio exercises can burn those calories quickly.

Nicolle Monico
Updated 10 February 2022
The Best Exercises to Burn Fat in Under 30 Minutes
Sections on this page
  1. Best Exercises to Burn Fat
  2. How Important Is Nutrition to Burn Fat?
  3. What Type of Fitness Program is Needed to Burn Fat?

If you're wondering about the best exercises to burn fat, we've compiled a list of the workouts with the biggest calorie expenditures so that you can incorporate them into your fitness routine. And, for those short on time, each can be done in under 30 minutes.

Although we all want a quick way to burn fat and lose weight, to maintain your fitness goals, there’s no one exercise or quick fix that will keep the pounds off long-term. Below we’ll discuss how fat is formed, what a well-rounded workout plan looks like, and which exercises can burn the most calories.

Best Exercises to Burn Fat

Keep in mind that how many calories* you burn depends on several factors, such as:

  • Pace
  • Intensity
  • Duration
  • Weight
  • Height

But overall, the below exercises are some of the best ways to burn fat, especially if you’re on a time crunch.


Running is the best exercise to burn fat and is one of the most convenient ways to do so. Typically, the average person burns about 100 calories per mile running at around a 15-min-per-mile pace for an hour. The faster you run, the quicker you’ll hit your burned calorie goal.

According to the American Council on Exercise, another way to look at calories burned is by minute. You may burn the following calories per minute if you’re a:

  • A 120-pound person: 11.4 calories
  • A 180-pound person: 17 calories

So, the more you weigh, the more you’ll burn per minute. Yet, running can be tough on joints so it may not be an option for everyone.


If running is already in your repertoire, consider adding sprint work to your weekly mileage since it's one of the best exercises to burn fat. Depending on your weight, a 30-second sprint may help you burn anywhere between 8.25 to 12.21 calories.

Studies have shown that if you do at least 2.5-minutes of sprinting exercises, you could potentially burn around 200 calories. One way to do this is by splitting up the sprints via interval trainings.

This could look like:

  1. Warm-up: 2-minute walk
  2. Jog: 1-minute jog
  3. Sprint: 30-second sprint
  4. Cool-down: 30 seconds (standing still)

Repeat steps 1-4 for a total of 35 minutes to burn around 300 calories. Keep in mind that the body can only sustain a 60-second sprint, so don’t try and push yourself for more than a minute.

Outdoor Cycling

Cycling can be much easier on joints than running and is just as effective (if not better) at burning fat as running.

If you’re biking outdoors at a moderate speed, you may burn the following calories over a 30-minute time period if you’re a:

  • 125-pound person: 240 calories
  • 155-pound person: 298 calories
  • 185-pound person: 355 calories

And, if by increasing your intensity level, females could burn around 314 calories while men are closer to 358 calories over the course of 30 minutes. Cycle for one hour and you could essentially burn around 628 and 716 calories, respectively.

If you’re mountain biking, you can add around 15-22 more calories to your total burned sum.

Stationary Bike

Riding a bike outdoors will burn calories a little bit faster than on an indoor bicycle, but if you don’t have a bike or the weather doesn’t permit it, a stationary bike is another great exercise to burn fat.

According to Harvard University, if you ride at a moderate pace (12-13.9 miles/hr) for 30 minutes, you may burn the following calories if you’re a:

  • 125-pound person: 210 calories
  • 155-pound person: 252 calories
  • 185-pound person: 294 calories

If you can, try intervals of high intensity cycling to burn more calories during your workout. Meaning, you could do a five-minute warm-up (levels 0-4) and then alternate with a 1-minute speed interval (levels 7-9) and a 2-minute recovery interval (levels 5-6) for the remainder of your time.

Jump Roping

If you’re short on time, jump roping is one of the best exercises to burn fat quickly. Only about 15-minutes of jumping rope can help you burn around 15 to 20 calories a minute.

Or, by doing a slow jumping pace for 20 minutes total (with breaks), you may burn the following calories if you’re a:

  • 125-pound person: 151 calories
  • 155-pound person: 187 calories
  • 185-pound person: 223 calories

Plus, when compared to running, you can typically burn 25% more calories per minute.


Swimming is a great total body workout that is easy on the joints and is less stressful on the body than other high-intensity exercises. In fact, 30 minutes of swimming can burn the same amount as jogging for 30 minutes—so you can easily replace your runs if you’re prone to injury or need to be more gentle on your body.

If you casually swim for 30 minutes, you may burn the following calories if you’re a:

  • 125-pound person: 180 calories
  • 155-pound person: 216 calories
  • 185-pound person: 252 calories

To burn more calories during your swim, increase your pace at least once during the week, add intervals, or incorporate stroke sets such as backstroke, butterfly, and breaststroke.


Rowing is another great low-impact exercise to add to your fitness regimen because you can do it at slower speeds and still get a great workout in. In fact, according to one study, for the same amount of effort on a rowing machine, you burn more calories than you would on an exercise bike.

If you row at a moderate pace for 30 minutes, you may burn the following calories if you’re a:

  • 125-pound person: 198 calories
  • 155-pound person: 246 calories
  • 185-pound person: 293 calories

How Important Is Nutrition to Burn Fat?

It’s important to note that nutrition is a big part of losing weight and burning fat. Regardless of the amount of exercise you do, if you’re not factoring in what you eat as a part of your diet plan, burning fat will be much harder (if not impossible).

“Feeding your body well and increasing your daily activity will help to burn fat. The key is to do both consistently,” says Francine Sablan, personal trainer and co-founder of Body University. “Most people have no problem working out for an hour, however, the food choices they make the rest of the day will directly affect their results.”

The 80/20 rule is a popular weight loss method that focuses on:

  • 80% nutrition
  • 20% workouts

Further, to lose weight and keep it off, it is recommended that you eat in a calorie deficit. This means you’re expending more calories than you consume by burning them from physical activity, eating and drinking fewer calories, or both.

Rule of Thumb to Burn Fat

To lose 1 pound (lb) of fat, you need to burn 3,500 fewer calories than you eat each day. If you’re in a 500-calorie daily deficit, you’ll likely lose 1 lb. of fat by the end of the week.

According to most experts, a diet with moderate portion sizes that is high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber combined with regular exercise is the most effective way to lose weight and burn fat.

Remember, patience is your friend here. The slower it comes off, the longer it'll stay off.

Burning Calories Vs. Burning Fat

Here's another way to look at how our bodies burn fat and calories.

The calories you consume from food and beverages gets stored as energy reserves if not used immediately (i.e., exercising). Your body then converts those unneeded calories into triglycerides which are stored in fat cells.

While exercising, your body gets its energy from recently consumed calories before dipping into those fat reserves. Therefore, when you decrease your calorie intake and up your physical activity, you’ll start accessing that stored fat quicker which can lead to more fat loss.

What Type of Fitness Program is Needed to Burn Fat?

To burn fat, the best way to get the results you’re hoping for means you’ll want to create a program that includes both cardio and strength training, ideally in the same session.

This combination will be key in eliminating fat and keeping those pounds off.

"Ultimately, a body composed of mostly muscle will be in better standing metabolically," says Sablan. "It takes more energy (calories) to sustain muscle tissue than fat. Strength training is an effective way to put on muscle mass."

Don’t worry, though, if your lifestyle doesn’t allow for tons of time in the gym each day, there are still plenty of ways to get in both training styles.

Recommended Cardio Per Week

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is recommended that individuals do at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.

Basically, you can do 30 minutes a day for five days to improve your fitness or lose weight. This can include low-intensity workouts such as walking or jumping on the StairMaster at a lower level. Plus, you don’t need to do it all in one shot, you can break up your cardio throughout the day and fit it in when you can.

*Calories burned will vary by person and these averages are to be used as starting points.