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Calories and Exercise

A recent conversation with one of my clients sparked interest for this blog post... we started off discussing the heart rate features on fitness watches, and the difference in calories burnt during different types of exercise. Later this week I plan to write an entire blog post discussing heart rate's before, during and after exercise, but for this week I set myself the task of comparing different exercise sessions in the means of calories burned.

The task; 30 minutes sessions throughout this past week covering 5 different exercise types to see how they compared. I stuck strictly to 30 minutes with minimal rest throughout the session, noted the active and total calories burnt and also compared average heart rate at the immediate end of my session and the recovery heart rate after 5 minutes.I've rated them below from least calories burnt to most calories burnt in 30 minutes, provided screenshots of my watch after the session and a nice sweaty selfie from each session to prove I did actually do the session! 🥵

Please note; I use an Apple Watch series 1 to record my workouts. During sessions it tells you your "active calories" - the amount of calories you're burning for the actual exercise you're doing, and the "total calories" - the amount of calories that you burn during exercise and with recovery time in between sets or reps, since the body continues to use energy after sessions. Different types of exercise sessions can burn more calories than others due to the amount of oxygen needed to transport blood and nutrients around the body after a session - this is called "Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption" or EPOC for short; essentially some workouts continue to burn calories for much longer than others afterwards so are considered more efficient if weight loss is your goal.


To be honest, on Tuesday I really didn't want to train heavy, I just needed some fresh air to clear the mind. In 30 minutes I covered 3.34km at an average pace of 8 minutes and 58 seconds per kilometre. It burnt a total of 177 calories, which isn't too bad, but my heart rate only hit 151bpm on average and had recovered down to 87bpm within 3 minutes after the session. A little bit sweaty as it was warm, but mostly just out of breath despite not being able to physically walk any faster without it being a jog!

Overall rank; 7 out of 10. Not a lot of "bang for your buck" but perfect for rest days and the perfect time to listen to a podcast. It's also completely free for anyone of any age, so what's stopping you?

4. STRENGTH TRAINING (used 5kg dumbbells throughout)

This was how I started my week of sessions - I had just finished a busy morning of clients and just wanted something that I could do quickly with minimal equipment. 3 arm exercises, 3 leg exercises, 3 core exercises (no weights) and 2 whole body exercises. I worked through 4 sets of 10-12 reps per exercises, with short rests, although they weren't timed so admittedly I perhaps could have fit another half a set in if I had kept to timed rest.For this reason the active calories burnt were actually lower than the walk, but the total calories that I continued to burn even on rest periods meant my overall workout load was fairly intense.

Overall rank; 7 out of 10. I love the feeling of weight training... the BURN!!! Need to be stricter with myself for future training sessions to make them more worthwhile, especially if the goal is to condition muscles further.

3. FUNCTIONAL TRAINING (battle ropes, 1 x 5kg dumbbell lunge with rotation, resistance band side steps and chest to floor burpees)

I uploaded this workout on Friday to Instagram and it was an absolute killer... but it was also very hot that morning by the time I came to train, which isn't an excuse, but it certainly didn't help.

30 seconds work and 15 seconds rest per exercise, aiming for two full sets before a slightly longer break (I tried to stick to 45 seconds rest after every 2-3 sets). Very repetitive but you know what you're doing from the get-go and there's room for variety within the battle ropes (single waves, double waves etc.) 203 active calories, compared to 237 total calories and at the three minutes after training my heart rate was still 127bpm - my resting heart rate is on average 62bpm so it was safe to say I was still getting my breath back for a while after the session.

Overall rank; 8 out of 10... love hate relationship. It's hard during the session but the feeling after is well worth it. Also good for beginners to work on technique for movements and can be easily changed up to suit the equipment that you have available.


To be honest, between skipping rope and functional training the only reasons I've put skipping first is the fact that skipping burns slightly more calories in 30 minutes, and that a skipping rope is easy for anyone to get hold of (my rope is from Decathlon and cost me about £4 at the time that I bought it, and it's also so compact it can be very easily transported... hello to anyone who likes to maintain some fitness on holiday 💪🏼☀️).

Overall ranking; 8 out of 10 - stick on a podcast or tv show and skip away. The more often you do it the better you'll get (I promise!) and the calorie and heart rate benefits you get from it are great. It's also lower impact than running so there's supposedly far less risk of injury to the hips or knees.

NUMBER 1!!! - HIIT TRAINING (Every Minute On The Minute)

This was my Saturday morning class in which we completed 3 sets of 8 exercises - at the start of the minute you perform the exercise for the given amount of reps as quickly as you can; if you finish in 20 seconds you have 40 seconds rest before you start the next round for example. We completed the first round all body weight exercises, and then I gave the option to add weights or increase the repetitions on round 2 and 3. IT WAS SWEATY! However, I love the buzz from this type of training, and the calories burnt are definitely evident. Heart rate also the highest still after the session meaning that it would take me longer to return to resting and therefore more calories burnt total.

Overall ranking; 9 out of 10. I always try to offer variations of exercises for different fitness levels, and this type of training can be done so easily without equipment but the benefits still show.

While I know that I've only completed these 5 types of exercise this week and there are far more to show (running, cycling, swimming, weight lifting, yoga, pilates... I could go on), these are the 5 types of exercise that I regularly use for myself at home, or with my clients based around the equipment that they have. The type of exercise that you do does come down to your fitness level, and what is available around you. It's also important to remember that everyone's calories burnt are different, along with how much your heart rate varies through different types of exercise. Keep your eyes peeled for next week's blog post detailing HR, and in the meantime get moving... Use this as a guide to help you towards your fitness goals; it doesn't matter what you do, just don't stop!

Love from (a thoroughly sweaty)


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