12 New Ways to Burn 500 Calories For Fun - Men's Health Magazine Australia

12 New Ways to Burn 500 Calories For Fun

Building the body you want begins in the kitchen, but effective and sustainable fat-shredding strategies blend clever nutritional cutbacks with a bigger daily burn. Whatever your training style, our manual will help you keep things interesting, Get ready to bring the heat.

The quip “sweat is just fat crying” might raise a wry smile when it’s screen-printed on a tank top, but it’s not scientifically sound. In reality, when your daily activities demand more energy than you’re putting in, your body will break down the molecules in your fat cells to use as fuel; ultimately, they’re converted into carbon dioxide and water, and most of the fat you ‘lose’ is exhaled. Admittedly, a bit wordy for a T-shirt slogan.

But, of course, the gist of it rings true: breaking a sweat will support your efforts to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. As a rule, a deficit of 500 calories (2090 kJ) a day will see you lose 450g of body fat a week. Theoretically, you could do little-to-no exercise and subsist on meagre portions. But where’s the joy in that? Experts agree that the best approach combines smarter food choices with more – and varied – movement.

Nevertheless, it can be easy to overestimate the energy we expend during exercise. Even for an active guy, roughly two thirds of your daily calorie output goes towards maintaining your body’s basic functions – and that’s before you factor in your step count and daily tasks. So exercise is just one piece of the puzzle, albeit an important one.

To eliminate the guess work, we’ve run the numbers on a few of our favourite trainers’ workouts; our calculations are for an average 80kg man. Whether you’re a keen gym-goer or more of an outdoorsman, there’s an option for you – plus some smart tweaks to the workouts you’re already doing.

A Double-Bell Blast For All Seasons

Whether you’re sweating it out in the garden, hotel gym or a vacant car park, all you need is two dumbbells and a kettlebell to incinerate calories. This session comes courtesy of John Chapman, one half of The Lean Machines. “The first part is strength-based,” he says. “The second is done at a much higher intensity, for a serious burn”

Time: 35-minutes

Part One

KB Sumo Deadlift High Pull

1/ KB Sumo Deadlift High Pull

5 rounds of 15 reps

This one’s a pulse-raiser. With your feet wider than shoulder width, hinge at your hips to deadlift the bell (A), squeezing your glutes as you pull the bell up towards your shoulders, elbows out (B).

DB Push-Up Renegade Row

2/ DB Push-Up Renegade Row

5 rounds of 10 reps

Drop the KB and move into your rows. Perform a push-up with your hands gripping two DBs (A), then pull each weight up towards your hip in turn (B) before dropping down for the next rep.

DB Front Rack Reverse Lunge

3/ DB Front Rack Reverse Lunge

5 rounds of 20 reps

Now to fire up those legs. Still holding the dumbbells, bring them into a front-rack position (A) and step back into a lunge with each in turn (B), 10 reps each side. All done? Back to the kettlebell for round two.

Rest 2 mins

Take a quick breather and shake yourself out. Make sure you have a 100m distance mapped out so that you can leg it there and back as soon as the clock hits the 2-min mark.


To start: 200M run

DB Deadlift

1/ DB Deadlift

5 rounds of 15 reps

By now, your heart rate should be around 65-70 per cent of your max. Hold a bell in each hand and tap one head from each on the floor as you lower, maintaining good posture (A). Drive back up (B).


2/ Burpees

5 rounds of 10 reps

Blast through 10 reps, touching your chest to the floor (A), clapping overhead at the top (B). You might need to step your feet out towards the later rounds. Return to the deadlifts for round two.

Burn 500 calories
Kick your metabolism into a higher gear. PHOTOGRAPHY BY David Venni.

The 100-Calorie Finisher #01

Already got a workout in mind? Tag on one of these quick cardio finishers.

Start a running clock: perform a kick-through on each side before hopping on the bike and putting your foot on the gas. When the next minute begins, hop off and do 2 reps each side; get back on the bike. On the third minute, do 3. Continue, increasing the reps until you hit 75 cals, or can no longer perform the kick-throughs in a minute.

5 Alternative Fat-Burners

The gym floor doesn’t have a monopoly on calorie-culling, of course. There are other ways to stoke your burn – with benefits that extend far beyond that.

1/ Drumming

Time taken to burn 500: 90 minutes. Unless you’re really good.

Bonus gains: A 38 per cent reduction in symptoms of depression, studies show.

2/ PaddleBoarding

Time taken to burn 500: 75 minutes of steady cruising.

Bonus gains: Shoulders like boulders and oar-some (sorry) core stability.

3/ Wild Swimming

Time taken to burn 500: an hour’s work, but less if it’s nippy.

Bonus gains: Linked to better immune system function by Czech scientists.

4/ Bouldering

Time taken to burn 500: 45 minutes (without snack breaks).

Bonus gains: Proven to reduce anxiety and get your mood off the rocks.

5/ Jiu-Jitsu

Time taken to burn 500: 40 minutes of some serious sparring.

Bonus gains: A chiselled upper body and an outlet for workday frustrations. 

Turn Up The Heat At Home

Time: 35 minutes

Heavy weights and cardio machines might help to ramp up the intensity when training – but they’re accessories, not essentials. This high-energy, fast-paced home workout was crafted by HIIT master Faisal Abdalla. “I use EMOM-style workouts [a new move every minute, on the minute] when I’m abroad or travelling for work and have no equipment,” he says. “The bang for your buck is big.” Do 6 rounds.

Air squat

Minute 1: Air squat

45 secs work, 15 secs rest 

Bend your hips back and let your knees track forwards in front of your feet until your thighs are parallel to the floor (A), then push back up (B). Fewer reps with tight form beats a sloppy up and down.

Lunge jump

Minute 2: Lunge jump

45 secs work, 15 secs rest 

From a lunge stance (A), dip down then jump up, switching legs in mid-air to land with the other foot forwards (B). Keep your chest up and maintain a steady pace. Drop to the floor when you hit 45 secs.

Hand Release Push-Up

Minute 3: Hand Release Push-Up

45 secs work, 15 secs rest 

Perform push-ups, keeping a straight line from your head to your ankles (A). When your chest touches the floor, lift your hands, pulling your shoulder blades back (B). Then push back up and repeat.

Side Kick-Through

Minute 4: Side Kick-Through

45 secs work, 15 secs rest 

Start on all fours, your knees lifted (A). Transfer your weight on to your left foot and raise your left hand. Extend your right leg until it’s straight, pulling your left elbow back (B). Reverse, then switch sides.


Minute 5: Burpee

45 secs work, 15 secs rest 

You know this one, right? Squat to touch the floor and hop your legs back into a plank position (A). Lower your chest to the floor, jump your legs in towards your hands and leap up, clapping overhead (B).

Minute 6: Rest

Take 60 secs rest, then go back to the air squats for the second round of your six. Not quite feeling the burn? Invest in a 10kg weight vest and strap it on for your next workout – while maintaining the same pace. We warned you.

Burn 500 calories
Set a higher bar in your big gym sessions. PHOTOGRAPHY BY David Venni.

The 100-Calorie Finisher #02

Do 25 cals on the SkiErg at a sprint pace, then grab a barbell or dumbbell and do 25 thrusters (no weights? Try squat jumps). After your thrusters, get back to grips with the ski, but this time sprinting 20 cals before matching that with thrusters. Continue in this fashion, reducing your target each round to 15 cals/reps, then 10, followed by a final soul-searing 5 of each.

3 Pieces Of Kit To Dial Up Your Burn

Working out from home? These small investments make a weighty difference

Bulldog gear 20kg Adjustable Weight Vest

1/Bulldog gear 20kg Adjustable Weight Vest

Bodyweight workouts too easy? Strap on one of these for squats to skipping drills. Wearing a vest that’s 15 per cent of your weight is estimated to help you burn up to 12 per cent more calories.

$140, bulldoggear.com

GoWOD Super Band

2/GoWOD Super Band

Resistance bands can make weighted or bodyweight moves that little bit more challenging (and calorie-torching). One study found that banded push-ups matched the bench press for effectiveness.

$41, wit-fitness.com

Hypervolt Go 2

3/ Hypervolt Go 2

The newest model from the self-care OGs will keep the muscle soreness of high-rep training at arm’s length. Recovery is an underrated aspect of new training plans – prioritising it can help you buy back an extra calorie-torching session a week.

$349.95, hyperice.com.au 

Make Your Weekend Blow Out Fun(ctional)

If you have enough time for a meatier session, this full-kit workout takes no prisoners. Blast through it when at the gym off-peak. “If you challenge yourself with the right intensity, you should hit your calorie target,” says its creator, WIT head trainer Gustavo Vaz Tostes. We imagine that challenging yourself won’t be an issue . . .

Time: 45-minutes

Part 1


1/ Rower

5 rounds of 40 secs on, 20 secs off

Hop on and go hard for 40 secs. Keep your form tight before pulling the handles to your lower chest (A), squeezing your shoulders at the end of the pull (B). 

Burpees Over Erg

2/ Burpees Over Erg

5 rounds of 40 secs on, 20 secs off

Drop into your burpees (A), tapping your chest to the floor and leaping laterally over the rower (B) when you stand up. Push the seat out of your way first, though. 

DB Snatch

3/ DB Snatch

5 rounds of 40 secs on, 20 secs off

Finish your first 3-min round with max reps of the snatch. Pull the DB up (A), then drop under it as you lift your arm overhead (B). Switch arms with each rep.

Rest 5 mins

After completing 5 rounds, take a water break and set up for part 2. Now for the real work…


To start: 200M run

Barbell Clean

1/ Barbell Clean

5 rounds of 9 reps 

Blast through 9 cleans after the run. Pull the bar off the floor (A), shrugging your shoulders before dropping under it to catch the bar in a rack position (B) and standing. DBs work, too.

Barbell Thruster

2/ Barbell Thruster

5 rounds of 12 reps 

After your cleans, move into thrusters. With the weight in a front-rack position, drop into a squat (A), then push the bar (or DBs) overhead as you stand up (B).

Double Unders

3/ Double Unders

5 rounds of 50 reps

Don’t be a hero: scale to 100 single-unders if you struggle with doubles. The goal is to get your heart pumping, so tripping every 5 secs is no good. When your reps are done, go back to the cleans for round two.

Burn 500 calories
Lower-body graft will give your efforts a leg-up. PHOTOGRAPHY BY David Venni.

The 100-Calorie Finisher #03

Hop on the rower, start a running clock and perform a 30-sec all-out row, aiming for max calories. Then, at the 30-sec mark, jump off and do 12 alternating lunges(weighted or body-weight ones), before strapping back in. Begin rowing at the 1-min mark with another 30-sec sprint, followed by 12 lunges. Repeat, rowing at the top of each minute until you reach 100 cals.

3 Ways To Remix Your Running

One option: you could bash out a neatly paced five kay and be done. But if you’re bored of that, there are other ways to run up the numbers on your Apple Watch. Here are three more ideas from Dr Adam Naylor and Ryan Gordon, directors of M20 Health.


What it is: Alternating sprints with jogging, walking or resting. Switching up the pace increases metabolic demand, so your calorie burn remains higher – even after you’ve stopped.

Burn 500 cals: Run 400m at a fast pace, followed by an easier 400m effort for 3 rounds; then do 200m hard, 200m easy for 6 rounds; then a 100m sprint, 100m easy for 3 rounds. Do this on an athletics track, if you can.

2/ Fartlek

What it is: This is Swedish for “speed play”. It’s a form of interval training and offers the same benefits, but
is less rigid.

Burn 500 cals: While on a 40-min run, pick a tree or lamp post roughly 50m away. Sprint to it, then slow down to recover. Now select a longer distance and hit a pace just less than a sprint. Do this every 2-4 mins. Most of your run should be done at a lower intensity (65-75 per cent of your max heart rate) with short bursts at 90-95 per cent.

3/ Hills

What it is: Not only will running uphill increase your calorie burn, it’ll also build and strengthen the muscles of your lower body, which will keep your metabolic rate ticking over in the long term.

Burn 500 cals: Find a hill. Run up it, then jog down to recover. For a distance of 40-60m, start with 5 runs at 50 per cent of your max, then 3 at 80 per cent and go all out for 2. Raise your rep count as needed. 

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