Sometimes we have to cut down our time spent at the gym because of the all the other commitments we’ve got going on in our busy lives, and sometimes knowing how to burn that same amount of calories in a lesser amount of time comes in handy.

Here are 6 ways to burn calories faster when you’ve got to get in and out of the gym in a jiffy:

1. Lift heavier weights

Lifting heavier weights requires more energy/calories than lifting lighter weights. Just because you are pressed for time doesn’t mean you should rush and lose your form. Be mindful of technique when increasing your weights.

2. Work out with a personal trainer or workout boddy

Human nature takes the path of least resistance, and this for many is true in the gym. We often skip the hardest, most daunting exercises because they require so much more work opting instead for those exercises that our body performs by rote.

Having a trainer to push you or a workout buddy to keep you accountable should prevent going to your “favorites” or exercises you’ve mastered which means less work. Less work means less calorie burn.

3. Train lower body

The bigger the muscle group the more energy it requires to do a task. A hamstring curls burns more calories than a biceps curl. A leg extension burns more calories than a triceps extension. Leave upper body to when you have more time if you are looking for the same amount of calories expended.

Additionally, the repair and growth process that takes place after the workout will also require more energy/calories for a large muscle group than a small muscle group.

4. Perform compound exercises vs isolation

Multi joint/compound movements, because they recruit more muscle fibres than isolation exercises, require more energy/calories to perform. Squats, lunges, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups, bench press and kettlebell swings burn more calories than isolation exercises like hip abduction, glute extension, lateral raises, forward raises and bento over flys do. Save those for a day when you have more time.

5. Have a pre-workout snack

That small meal about an hour before a workout leads to better performance. Individuals who eat that pre-workout something have higher glycogen supply (stored chains of carbohydrate essential for fuelling the body), which means they have a better energy supply, boosting local muscle strength and endurance.


This is proven with a higher VO2 max, a measurement of energy expenditure. The higher the energy expenditure, the higher the calorie burn.

6. Switch things up

Generally, it takes about three weeks for the body to adapt to a given task. It learns how to execute and accomplish it successfully without struggle. At this point the body no longer considers it work. Think of that massage therapist when first out of school and begins massaging full time, drops about five pounds because of the increased activity.

But, by the time that massage therapist has been working for three weeks, her body has learned how to accomplish the task at hand without losing weight. Her body has learned to accomplish the work with the calories/energy at hand. It’s part of the human body’s survival mechanism. Similarly, the body plateaus on a workout in about three weeks.

It no longer considers that workout “work”. This is the point at which a personal trainer will switch things up. So, if you are looking to burn more calories in a workout then you must create more work. The workout that you have been doing for the last three weeks is not the choice if this is the case. Instead, it’s time to switch things up and create more work. And that doesn’t necessarily mean going heavier.

Take out an exercise from your routine and instead add two more sets to two or three of the other exercises. Or how about working at a different angle creating more work because the body is learning something new, like reverse body weight rows instead of seated rows? Adaptation is not a bad thing: you’re getting stronger.

There’s a saying from “Alice in Wonderland” that is appropriate when referring to not plateauing in the gym : to stay in the same place, you have to run faster and faster. Remember when trying to burn more calories in the same amount if not lesser amount of time, do not sacrifice form. Be mindful of technique to avoid injuries.

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!


Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
Lost 45 Kg in Total
Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans