- How to Burn 500 Calories in 30 Minutes
- 500-Calorie Workout 1: Interval Running Workout
- 500-Calorie Workout 2: Stair-Climber Challenge
- 500-Calorie Workout 3: Interval Cycling Ride
- 500-Calorie Workout 4: Plyometric Rep Challenge
- 500-Calorie Workout 5: Quarter Pounder
- Building a Beginner Workout Plan to Increase Cardiovascular Endurance
- Low-Intensity, Longer Cardio Workouts
- High-Intensity, Shorter Cardio Workouts
- The Beginners’ Guide to Cardio Machines at the Gym
- Indoor Cycle
- Stair Climber
How to Burn 500 Calories in 30 Minutes
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Wondering which exercises burn the most calories? You’ve found ’em! With these five cardio workouts, you’ll torch up to 500 calories in just 30 minutes. NASM-certified personal trainer Taylor Ryan created each 500-calorie workout to help you get fast results without spending hours in the gym each week.
In fact, you don’t need the gym at all (same for these awesome YouTube workouts!). Whether you want to train at home, outside, in a hotel, or do your cardio workout at the gym, we’ve got a 500-calorie workout plan for you. (Related: 30 Ways to Burn 100+ Calories Without Trying)
500-Calorie Workout 1: Interval Running Workout
If you’re wondering what exercise burns the most calories, running almost always lands near the top of the list—and for good reason. Jogging at a 7 MPH pace torches about 700 calories in an hour.
Ryan designed this high-intensity interval running plan so that it’s suitable for all fitness levels, but even the “beginner” plan is a challenging 500-calorie workout. (And if you love it, you should definitely try these other interval running workouts.)
If you’re not fond of the treadmill, feel free to take this 500-calorie workout routine outside. In the absence of a digital speed control, Taylor recommends a “comfortable run” for the three-minute intervals and “uncomfortably fast/on the verge of a full out sprint” for the shorter sprints. (Also try this 30-day treadmill challenge that’s actually fun.)
Not a runner? Follow the same guidelines for a power walk and/or jogging intervals instead—just note that the 500-calorie workout total may change since running burns more calories than walking.
500-Calorie Workout 2: Stair-Climber Challenge
Can’t get stoked about climbing a stairway to… nowhere? You’re not alone. Shake things up and get faster results with this stair-stepping 500-calorie workout with dumbbells. By adding weight to functional movements (you’ll mimic everyday activities like carrying grocery bags up the stairs), you’ll work more muscles at once and increase your calorie burn.
Taylor recommends using a set of 3- to 8-pound dumbbells for this 500-calorie workout, depending on fitness level. If you ever feel like you might lose your balance, stay safe by setting the weights down on the console until you find your footing. Unless otherwise noted below, carry the dumbbells in a “grocery bag position,” which means one in each hand as if holding onto two grocery bags, arms down by sides. (Related: 5 Ways to Get a Crazy Good Stair-Climber Workout)
500-Calorie Workout 3: Interval Cycling Ride
Stop spinning your wheels on that stationary bike and kick things up a notch with this cycling interval ride! Put the pedal to the metal and ride your way to complete the 500-calorie workout that you can do at the gym or at home if you have your own stationary bike.
500-Calorie Workout 4: Plyometric Rep Challenge
Plyometric exercises are a sure-fire way to burn calories and build muscle. This routine combines some of the best jumping moves you can do for a killer cardio workout at the gym, at home, or outside. How it works: You do each move for the indicated number of reps. Do the full 500-calorie workout circuit as quickly as possible (you may even finish in less than 30 minutes!) resting as needed.
Here’s how to ace all of the moves in this 500-calorie workout:
- High Knees: Run in place, bringing your knees up to your chest as high as you can, pumping your arms as quickly as you can.
- Bodyweight Squats: Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands behind head (or straight out from your shoulders if you prefer). Push hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat. Thighs should be parallel to the ground. Press back up to standing. That’s one rep. (Keep these squatting mistakes in mind during this 500-calorie workout.)
- Push-Ups: Start in straight-arm plank position with hands slightly wider than and in line with shoulders. Brace core and squeeze glutes as you lower body until chest nearly touches the floor. Pause at the bottom, and then push back to the starting position as quickly as possible. That’s one rep.
- Alternating Lunges: Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. Step forward with right foot, bending both knees so right knee is over ankle, left heel lifted. Step back to starting position and repeat with left leg to complete 1 rep.
- Butt Kicks: Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. Kick heels up towards your glutes, pumping arms back and forth as quickly as you can. Continue at a quick pace until you’ve completed 75 reps.
- Mountain Climbers: From a full plank position, alternate “running” knees into chest as quickly as you can. Keep core engaged the entire time, and push speed as much as possible without compromising form.
- Leg Raises: Get down on all fours with palms flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart. Without allowing back to rise or round, keep core engaged as you bend right knee and lift leg up until right thigh is parallel to the floor. Slowly lower back down to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 25 reps on right side and then repeat on the left.
500-Calorie Workout 5: Quarter Pounder
This calorie-crushing circuit incorporates quarter-mile sprints (hence the name “quarter pounder”) in between bodyweight exercises to help your burn 500+ calories and tone your entire body at the same time. Plus, it’s guaranteed to beat boredom—you won’t have time to let your mind wander for a second! Prefer not to run? Hop on an indoor bike and pedal your sprints instead.
Here’s how to ace all of the moves in this 500-calorie workout:
- Cross chops: Hold a weighted ball or dumbbell with both hands in front of chest, arms extended, and stand with feet wide. Bend both knees and pivot feet to the left, lowering ball toward left shin. Immediately straighten legs, raise ball overhead, and pivot to the right. Do 8 reps, then switch sides (rotate in opposite direction).
- Falling pushups: From a kneeling position, let yourself fall forward onto your hands. Slowly lower your body into a pushup and then return to kneeling up.
- Figure-4 bridges on a chair or ball: Lie faceup with arms pressed into the floor, knees bent, heels on top of the ball. Cross right ankle on top of your left thigh, right knee out to the side. Press left heel down into the ball and raise hips as high as you can. Hold for 1 count and then slowly lower.
- Floor jacks: Lie facedown on the floor or mat. Extend arms and legs into an ‘X’ shape and then do ‘jumping jacks’ in this position (no actual jumping involved).
- By Jessica Smith @jessicasmithtv
Building a Beginner Workout Plan to Increase Cardiovascular Endurance
by Mary Lambkin
As you build your beginner workout plan, it’s important to include exercises that increase cardiovascular endurance — a.k.a., cardio workouts. But if you think “cardio workout” equals hours on the treadmill or biking until you’re drenched in sweat, think again! A beginner cardio workout can be as simple as a brisk walk or a couple of minutes jumping rope.
These types of workouts boost your heart health and make everyday tasks like walking up the stairs and playing with your kids a lot easier. Not to mention they burn plenty of calories.
When designing your cardio workout, try using the FIIT (frequency, intensity, time, and type) methodology. Change up your routine every week or two to stay motivated and reap the best cardiovascular endurance results. Here’s what you need to know in order to build a well-rounded workout plan.
Low-Intensity, Longer Cardio Workouts
Low-intensity cardio workouts are great for beginners who may not be comfortable breaking an intense sweat every time they hit the gym. Exercises like walking and stationary cycling are easy on your joints and approachable for first-time gym goers.
A regular walking routine will not only help you increase your endurance and lose weight, studies have shown it can also help lessen joint pain, boost immune health, and reduce unhealthy cravings! Some time on the treadmill can make working out feel effortless if you pair it with your favorite TV show, podcast, workout playlist, or gym buddy conversation.
How to get started: Longer, low-intensity cardio workouts are a great way to ease into a steady fitness routine and are often a perfect stepping-stone to higher intensity workouts later in your health journey. A beginner workout plan might include a minimum of one (and a maximum of three) low-intensity, long cardio workouts per week.
Frequency: Aim to complete this type of workout one to three times per week at a low intensity. Try walking, steady stationary biking, elliptical training, or steady rowing for 40–90 minutes.
High-Intensity, Shorter Cardio Workouts
High-intensity cardio workouts build a different kind of cardiovascular endurance that will help increase your overall fitness and improve your ability to dash up a set of stairs, bolt after your kids during a game of tag, or load up a car with luggage. Instead of feeling intimidated by the effort level required for high-intensity cardio moves, try to view each exercise as a fun challenge.
High-intensity movements like burpees, jumping rope, stair-climbing, and jumping jacks can all be modified to meet your fitness level. For example, many high-intensity cardio exercises (like burpees) require jumping up or planking in a pushup position. Beginners can reduce the jumping motion to a step-up movement, and plank on their knees instead of their feet.
How to get started: Because high-intensity exercises significantly ramp up your heart rate, there’s no need to attempt them for more than a few minutes at a time. Try incorporating anywhere from five to ten minutes of high-intensity exercise into your workouts a few times a week. A five-minute cardio “burst” is a great exercise to add to your routine at the gym or simply squeeze into a busy morning at home.
Frequency: Try to perform this type of workout two to four times per week at a high intensity. Aim to do some burpees, box jumps, sprinting, jumping rope, and jumping jacks for 5-15 minutes.
When it comes to building cardiovascular endurance, consistency is key. Make sure to stick to your gym routine to ensure results! As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.
The Beginners’ Guide to Cardio Machines at the Gym
Like it or not, cardio is an essential part of being healthy. Although at times we may think of it as a chore, every doctor, trainer, and fitness buff can speak for its bevy of benefits.
We’re not just talking about weight loss. Reduced stress, a healthier heart and lungs, improved muscle density, and even decreased risk of some types of cancer and heart disease have been attributed to cardio.
We could wax poetic about it all day. All that’s great but what if you’re a total beginner when it comes to cardio machines at the gym?
Whether you’re just setting out on your cardio-fitness journey or jumping back in after a long break, it can be challenging to figure out where to begin—especially when you have skill level, injuries, and goals to consider. Wonder no more.
We’re here to tell you what makes each cardio machine different and beneficial in its own way. Keep your own goals in mind as you read, then try out some of the suggested Aaptiv routines!
The treadmill (like this at home version) is arguably the most straightforward of all the cardio machines.
With a single belt to stand on and a screen of buttons for customizing, getting started on this very popular machine couldn’t be easier.
First, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with a few of those buttons (namely quick start and speed). Once you’re ready to get on, straddle one leg on each side of the belt, atop the rubber strips.
Press the quick start button, which will start the treadmill at a very slow speed (.5 or 1, in most cases). If this is your first time, begin walking at this speed, slowly increasing until you’re at a moderate pace. Not sure what a moderate pace is? Ask yourself: Could I easily have a conversation at this speed? If not, you’re going too fast.
Although you may be tempted to hit the ground running, your first day—or first day back—stay at a walk. Does that mean you’ll fall into boredom from the start? No!
No matter what beginner routine you’re doing, the Aaptiv trainers will keep you in the zone while taking it slow, introducing different speeds and inclines along the way. As long as you understand the treadmill you’re on, we leave you with nothing to worry about. In fact, we’ve got five beginner runs to get you started off right.
Ready to hop off? As gradually as you started, slow the treadmill down until you’re practically at a standstill.
Whatever you do, don’t come to an abrupt stop, which can be harmful and, admittedly, embarrassing. Once you’ve reached the slowest speed on your ‘mill, hit stop. Remove any emergency features it might have and walk off using the rubber sides. Oh, and don’t actually hop off.
One of the most beneficial aspects of the treadmill is its variety. Users of all skill levels, ages, and sizes can use the tool to build up endurance, lose weight, and improve cardiovascular health.
Even while walking. With Aaptiv’s trainers and multitude of routines, you can easily begin to customize for the results you want. Looking to build stronger legs? Choose a workout with inclines.
Longer endurance? Choose a routine that goes from a walk to a jog, or a run. It’s seriously that simple. Also, make sure to avoid these common treadmill mistakes.
Check out the beginner treadmill workouts we have on the Aaptiv app!
The elliptical (this is another popular alternative) is often dismissed as the treadmill’s lesser, ineffective counterpart. Those searching for an easier time often seek it out, completely unaware of the effect it can have on their workouts.
Usually placed near the treadmills, these machines provide a low-impact, easy to understand cardio option. Ellipticals have their own set of buttons to familiarize yourself with.
Using an elliptical is pretty simple. But, before you step on keep in mind: the pedals will instantly start to move!
Start by getting a good grip on the handlebars on each side and step in. You’ll probably notice that the pedals are pretty, uh, huge. That’s okay!
Actually, the extra room provides comfort. Just make sure you align your feet with the edges of each “foot” to avoid any strain on your hips. As always, use proper form by straightening your back, tucking your abs, pushing your pelvis forward just slightly, and never looking down! Unless you’re making a quick adjustment, that is.
From there, pick a set of handlebars to hold onto (stationary for stabilizing, moving for extra upper body movement). Keep a light hold and a bend in the elbows, then get pedaling! Similar to the treadmill, start off at a moderate pace—no incline or resistance just yet. Remember to keep a slight bend in your knees, too, since locked joints can cause pain later.
Once you’re comfortable, pick your poison! Er, routine. Gradually introduce the controls (now’s time for those incline and resistance buttons), always aiming for a smooth motion.
An elliptical can go toe-to-toe with the treadmill in terms of physical and cardiovascular benefits. Yet, the real benefit lies in the potential to get an effective, low-impact workout.
It allows for an easy bend in the knees, as well as that smooth motion we talked about. Speaking of knees, it’s proven to be good for those, too. Whether you’re recovering from an injury, have aching joints that need some support, or just want to shake things up, the elliptical is pretty much the perfect option.
Check out the beginner elliptical workouts we have on the Aaptiv app!
Also known as the spin bike or stationary bike (this is a top seller), the cycle is another very popular addition to anyone’s fitness routine.
Touted by the likes of serious athletes, social media influencers, and Victoria’s Secret models, you can find machines and classes just about anywhere.
Don’t give in to the hype and jump on immediately, though. There are some things you need to know—and do—before putting the pedal to the metal.
First thing’s first: Prep. This includes adjusting your seat height and handlebars. Ideally, when either pedal is at its lowest point, you want your leg to be almost (but not entirely) straight.
When that’s achieved, you’re at the right cycling height for you. You want to avoid pushing your hips forward or straining your legs to reach the pedals. If that’s the case, you should lower your seat.
As for handlebars, you want your arms to be able to reach out to them at shoulder level comfortably. You can get step-by-step instructions on how to set up your bike, here.
Next, strap your feet in. Believe it or not, cycling is much easier and far more comfortable when using the straps.
Don’t believe it? Try it out. Also, check your form. Hold your chest up, keeping your shoulders down, and avoiding hunching or rounding your back.
Once you’re all adjusted and strapped in, it’s time to get moving. You might want to move the pedals with only your toes, but that’s just a whole lot of foot strain waiting to happen.
You wouldn’t ride a regular bike that way, would you? Instead, start with the ball of your foot and push through to your heel as you press down. Then, pull up using the top of your foot.
Although it’s not a total-body workout, cycling has proven itself to be a calorie burning, heart-pumping challenge. And, since it isn’t high impact, there’s less of a chance you’ll hurt your knees, ankles, and hips. The stationary bike also burns fat, improves strength (thanks to endurance muscles), and is good for your mental health. It’s the right cardio machine to go for if you want a low-impact, killer workout—because, surprising to some, both of those can exist in the same routine.
Check out the beginner indoor cycling workouts we have on the Aaptiv app!
Stair climber, StairMaster, step machine, stair stepper (like this at home version)—they’re all variants of one thing—moving stairs.
A major upgrade from jogging up and down football field bleachers, the machine consists of a set of hand rails and upward-moving steps. So, how do we get started?
Begin by lightly placing your fingertips on the front or side bars. You should actually be able to use the stair climber without touching the bars at all, but using them for balance (especially as a beginner) is totally okay.
What you don’t want to do is depend on them too heavily by placing all of your weight forward and off of your legs. This reduces the muscle usage in your legs, as well as total calories burned.
What you want to do now that you’re on is, of course, check your form. It might come as a surprise that you don’t actually want to stand completely straight. That’s overcorrecting. Instead, leaning forward just a tad will prevent both your back and knees from overcompensating (overarching and locking out, in this case).
Now, like every machine before this, start off slowly, then at a comfortable moderate pace. If you find yourself clutching the bars to keep up, you’re going too fast. Avoid quick, hop-like steps that’ll hurt your calves and take even steps instead.
Finally, keep your entire foot on the stairs or pedals. Not doing so can also put extra pressure on those calf muscles.
Much like the elliptical and cycle, the stair climber is a top choice for those wanting a low-impact cardio machine that can still increase your stamina. While scorching calories, you’ll also be kicking your quads, calves, hamstrings, and bum into high gear.
More in tune with building muscle, this cardio machine is for those who want to do so while also getting their heart rate pumping.
Check out the beginner stair climber workouts we have on the Aaptiv app!
Starting a new workout regimen is never easy but starting a workout regimen when you have never worked out before or have taken years off can be downright scary. It takes a delicate balance of keeping your motivation up due to teetering between not making enough headway and working out too hard too soon. So what is the right way to start up an exercise program?
“Slow and steady wins the race”. The key is to start easy and try to challenge yourself a little bit more with every workout. As you get closer to your own limits you will start getting sore on the day or two after a routine. If you get uncomfortably sore then you know you have pushed just a little too far. When you hit that mark you need to slow down the pace at which you are increasing the difficulty of your workouts and start looking at other variables to add in such as flexibility, muscle building, and diet modification to help you continue on your path to the body and fitness level that you want.
With that approach in mind, this beginner cardio routine was built for those brand new to exercise and those coming back after a long break. Built to be easy enough for even the most out of shape person, this workout is also designed to be easily modified to become harder as you progress in strength and endurance through your first month or two before having to switch to a more challenging routine. This will help you get through those crucial first weeks of habit building without having to worry about looking for new exercises.
The following is a more detailed look at each low impact cardio exercise and the different ways to modify each motion from its easiest form to it’s most difficult.
1. Jog in Place Jacks: In its easiest form this is a very slow and light walking in place with a slow jumping jack like motion with your arms. But as you need to progress, change your walking motion to marching, jogging, high knees or full blown jumping jacks, increasing your arm movement speed as you increase the difficulty of the leg movement.
2. Windmill Steps: The beginning level of this exercise is just a simple side step, letting your trailing leg come behind you with a slight tap, as well as adding the large circular arm swing. As you want this to be harder you can drop your hips lower to the ground, adding a squatting position. Increase the step width and speed until you substitute the motion with a lateral jump rather than a step.
3. Static Squat + Punches: Starting with a very shallow squat and a punching motion without any extra weight, only hold your squat for a few seconds before coming up continuing your punches. As you progress stay down longer (until the maximum time), squat lower, and start using dumbbells with your punching motion. Do not, however, speed up your punches, especially if using extra weight.
4. Static Lunge + Curls: Start with a shallow lunge with your feet relatively close together and either very light dumbbells or possibly only arm weight for your bicep curls. As you progress, lunge deeper and with your feet further apart and increase the amount of weight you use with your curl. Do not increase the speed of your curl.
5. Static Lunge + Tricep Extension: With this lunge position only the front leg is bent and the rear leg is extended straight. Start with a shallow lunge and little to no weight in your hands. When you want more of a challenge, increase the depth of the lunge and the distance between your feet as well as the amount of weight you are using for your tricep extension. Do not increase the speed of your tricep extensions.
6. Fingertip to Toe Jacks: Start with a slow leg lift reaching to your toes each time then increase the height of the leg lift as well as the speed of the leg until you are actually hopping back and forth from leg to leg with only one foot on the ground at a time and moments when both feet are off the ground. At this pace you will need to alternate one hand going up while the other is coming down.
7. Stutter Step: The easiest version of this exercise is still hard but start with all of your weight in one leg with only a slight bend (or even keep it straight), placing the opposite leg back only a few inches behind you and driving the knee up in front of you slowly as you bring your hands down. Increase the depth of your squat on the supporting leg while extending the moving leg further and further behind you. At the same time, start increasing the speed of which you move your arms and leg.
This low impact cardio workout is an ideal starting point for beginners. This is also a great workout for obese people, or for those who are otherwise overweight. It has been specifically designed to have an emphasis on low impact exercises that raise the heart rate while causing minimal stress to the joints.