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How to Burn 500 Calories

By Dani Taylor

Anyone who has taken an intense cardio class can attest to the difficulty of burning 500 calories. And, while the benefits of exercise extend far beyond caloric expenditure alone, we do usually have a specific goal in mind. We can track our food intake and set fitness and body composition goals, but if we don't know how many calories we burn at the gym, we may be missing an important piece of information to hitting our goal.

Depending on your body size and fitness level 500 calories is a significant calorie burn, but it is certainly doable. But how do you figure out how long you should exercise to burn 500 calories? What kinds of exercises can burn this many calories? Is it just for running? HIIT classes that are out of this world? Is yoga a valid option? Let’s learn the best workouts to burn 500 calories no matter how you choose to move your body to answer all of these questions and more.

Estimated Calories Burned:

Total calories burned = Duration (in minutes) x ((METs x 3.5 x weight in kg)/200)

This is technically the formula, but it can be hard to translate to real-life experiences. For those of us who aren't as mathematically inclined or prefer something that doesn't require as much number-crunching you can also use a fitness tracker like an Apple Watch or Fitbit, but these will only provide you with an estimate and have been shown to be up to 80% to 90% inaccurate. For the vast majority of people, this is close enough.

To estimate the number of calories you'll burn during the following exercises and workouts, we used an arbitrary weight of 150 pounds. You will burn more calories if you weigh more than this, and fewer calories if you weigh less. The most important thing to remember is that you are beautiful, strong, and capable regardless of your body size!


One of the quickest ways to burn 500 calories is to go for a run. If a 150-pound person runs at a 12-minute mile pace for 40 minutes, they will burn 500 calories (5 mph). Running at a steady pace raises your heart rate and puts your cardiovascular system to work. During the activity, this intense exertion results in a high-calorie burn. You can include hills or intervals to increase the rate at which you reach the 500-calorie mark. You can also focus on short, near-maximal-effort intervals interspersed throughout your steady-state run.

This will increase the workout's efficiency and can help you reach the 500-calorie mark by the 30-minute mark.

Why does interval running burn more calories than running continuously for an extended period of time? A 30-minute jog will provide you with a metabolic boost for 30 minutes and that's it. It is certainly preferable to doing nothing. But a 20-minute high-intensity interval workout, on the other hand, will burn more calories during the workout and more fat throughout the day, and provide you with a metabolic boost for two to three days afterward, allowing you to continue burning fat.


Cycling is another cardio-heavy activity that raises your heart rate and burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time. A 150-pound person can expect to burn around 250 calories per 30 minutes of moderate-intensity work, meaning they'd have to cycle for an hour to burn 500 calories. Increasing the intensity by pedaling at a faster cadence or increasing the resistance will cut down on the time (either by using a harder gear or heading uphill). The faster you move the pedals and the higher the resistance, the more work your body has to do, which means it will expend more energy and burn more calories faster.

Spinning and indoor bike workouts also work well, and there are many apps and streaming platforms that offer interval-based workouts to help ensure you’re pushing yourself. If you want to gauge your work accurately and calculate your total calorie burn most effectively, a system that uses your individual heart rate is going to be the most accurate and most tailored to your body’s actual output.


When performing a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout, you’re giving each exercise all you have for a specified amount of time, maxing out your energy expenditure. These short, intense bouts of work help you burn more calories in less time. HIIT-style workouts top the list of favorite calorie-torching workouts, with challenging exercises like burpees, alternating jump lunges, kettlebell swings, box jumps, sprints, and skater lunges being go-to moves.

The goal of HIIT is to work hard while also recovering hard. So you're giving it your all during the movement, which means you should be out of breath and in need of a rest before you can repeat it or move on to the next. Your recovery can be brief, but it should be complete. You can try doing HIIT workouts in a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio, which means your hard intervals are either the same length as your rest period (e.g., 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest), or your work intervals are twice as long as the rest period (e.g., 60 secs work and 30 secs recovery). As the intensity of the workout increases, so does the amount of calories expended. During HIIT activities, you should aim to reach 70-90 percent of your maximum heart rate.


Though it isn't always the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to burning calories, boxing can actually pack quite a punch if done correctly. Boxing has recently received more attention in the fitness industry for being a calorie-burning powerhouse. It's a physically demanding workout that raises your heart rate and engages your entire body. As an added benefit, many people find that this is one of the most effective ways to relieve stress and let go of any anger or anxiety. Boxing at a moderate to high intensity for 45 minutes can burn 500 calories for a 150-pound person.


The beauty of swimming is that you're working hard, but you're not putting as much physical strain on your body as you would with [higher impact] workouts. Swimming to burn calories can feel like you're cheating the system, but the truth is that your body is exerting a lot of energy in the water. Swimming is a great cardio option for those with joint pain because it is non-weightbearing. In about an hour of vigorous lap swimming, you can burn 500 calories. For someone weighing 150 pounds, a more leisurely pace will reduce your expenditure rate to around 300-350 per hour. Including intervals will increase the workout's intensity and efficiency.


Yoga has numerous advantages, including increased strength, flexibility, and balance, as well as stress and anxiety reduction. However, it isn't the most efficient workout for burning calories, so if you want to burn 500 calories, you'll need to spend a lot more time on the yoga mat than you would if you were doing something more strenuous like running or cycling. With that said, Smith claims that doing yoga can burn up to 500 calories, especially if you choose a more challenging modality.

Because your body is working harder to regulate due to the high temperatures, hot yoga has been proven to burn more calories than a non-heated yoga class. Vinyasa is also a good option because you’re constantly moving and holding your body weight in challenging poses. Both of these types of exercise have the potential to burn 500 calories in an hour or so. To get that kind of burn with traditional Hatha yoga, you'd have to do it for a couple of hours or more. Add in some challenging bodyweight movements like lunges, jumps, and pushups to ensure you're burning the most calories.


Pilates is an excellent way to strengthen your body's small muscles, but it isn't a high-calorie burner because most movements are slow and controlled rather than explosive and intense. However, this does not negate the fact that you are burning calories! In 90-120 minutes of moderate-intensity Pilates, you can reach the 500-calorie mark.

If you don't have two hours to devote to your workout, you can boost your calorie burn by incorporating short bursts of cardio, such as jumps. If you want to really ramp up your calorie burn, try a Pilates class that uses a reformer—you'll quickly get your heart rate up and reach your 500-calorie burn in less time than traditional Pilates.

Weight Lifting

Most of us associate calorie burning with cardio exercises that increase our heart rate and leave us drenched in sweat. As a result, weight training has long been an underappreciated form of calorie-burning exercise. However, weight training as an activity burns calories (about 500 calories in two hours), and the metabolic benefit comes from the fact that it helps build lean muscle.

The more muscle you have on your frame, the faster your metabolism is and the more calories you burn naturally throughout the day, even when you're not working out. Incorporate some weighted jumps, such as jump squats or jumping lunges, into your weight-training workout to increase your calorie burn. Circuit training also raises your heart rate, which helps you burn more calories.


The world of dance is vast, and the potential calorie burn varies greatly depending on the styles and their intensity. Depending on the type of dancing you do, you can burn anywhere from 100 to 500 calories per hour, with most ballroom dances burning around 250 calories per hour for someone weighing 150 pounds. A slow dance, such as the waltz, burns far fewer calories than a high-intensity option, such as hip hop or salsa. If you want to burn 500 calories while dancing, choose a high-intensity dance routine, such as a hip hop dance routine, or one that includes movements that challenge and exhaust your muscles.


Though vacuuming, cleaning the bathtub, raking leaves, and other household and yard chores aren't our favorite things to do, we can sweep, mop, and mow a little more cheerfully knowing we're burning calories. After all, you burn calories whenever you move your body and expend energy, though the exact amount depends on your body and activity. To burn 500 calories, a 150-pound person would need to spend about 2.5 hours doing housework. You can probably find ways to increase your burn if the thought of cleaning for 2.5 hours is a little intimidating. Make it a game by making a few extra trips up and down the stairs or stopping every 15 minutes and doing "X" number of squats.

Yard work like raking and mowing are more efficient calorie-burning chores, especially if you're moving dirt, sand, and stones. Someone weighing 150 pounds, according to Smith, can burn 500 calories in 60-90 minutes.


So, the good news is that you can burn 500 calories no matter how you like to exercise. You can increase your calorie burn during a workout by limiting your rest times and aiming to stay in motion. Using supersets, adding cardio bursts between sets, and limiting rest time between movements are just a few examples. Intervals, hills, HIIT segments, and overall increasing your speed and exertion can help you burn more calories during cardio workouts.

The most important thing to remember when exercising for weight loss and calorie burning is that consistency over time is what will ultimately determine your results. It's also important to remember that exercise has numerous physical and mental benefits that have nothing to do with calories or weight loss. You'll naturally see a shift in your body if you focus more on staying consistent, enjoying the movement you choose, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, and focusing on progressing (getting stronger and/or faster). Also, if you enjoy what you're doing and put in the effort, hitting your 500-calorie burn goal during your workout will be a breeze!


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