10 Ways to Burn More Calories Than the Elliptical

You hit the gym daily, eat right, and drink lots of water. But your workout routine is starting to get a little dull and repetitive, isn’t it? We’ve all been there. In fact, I myself am guilty of it! I used to spend an hour a day on the elliptical, toiling away watching my calorie burn go up while doing some major people watching at the student recreation center.

In an hour at level 5 resistance, the average female of 140 pounds can burn up to roughly 650 calories on the elliptical. This is great—but who wants to work out on the same machine day after day? Her Campus is here to offer you some other exercises that are more fun and burn at least the same amount of calories if not more while providing better results. Plus, isn’t it about time to put the spice back in your workout routine?

HC’s 10 Workout Alternatives to the Elliptical

1. Go hiking
600-700 calories per hour


For those of us who have the option of hiking in the outdoors, this is a great way to burn a serious amount of calories. And with the great spring weather starting to show its pretty face, you can get your tan on while working on your fitness! If you want to make a day out of it, pack a lunch, bring some friends and carry the picnic up the hike. This will add extra weight, which means you’ll be working off more calories. Enjoy the view and the lunch from the top—but don’t forget sunscreen!

2. Rollerblading
816 calories per hour


OK. This seems a little ‘80s throwback. But rollerblading is a very underrated cardio workout. We’re not talking roller skates that you wear at the roller rink. Some serious in-line roller blades will be needed for this exercise. You can find a great variety at Target or any sporting goods store. They are well worth the investment because they will last for years! And while you’re at it, remember to get some protective gear to prevent any unwanted bruises or scrapes. Elbow pads, kneepads, and a helmet are always a good call.

Megan Bianchetti, a student at the University of Oregon, switches up her normal cardio workout at the gym twice a week and opts for rollerblading instead. “It’s an awesome workout for your legs and abs, you will definitely feel sore the next day,” she explains. “A group of my friends established ‘Skate Saturdays’ where we rollerblade around campus all afternoon. It sounds dorky but it’s so much fun! I wear a heart rate monitor so I know how many calories I’m burning, and it’s always a lot.”

So take advantage of the sunny weather, strap on those blades and shred around town. You’ll get a serious sweat going while toning up your legs so they’re sexy by summer.

3. Rowing
800 calories per hour

You’re probably thinking, “Rowing? Really? Who has access to a canoe and river on their campus to even do this?” But fear not, most gyms now have the infamous rowing machine. This exercise simulates a rowing motion, putting resistance on the pull, which works your back, arm and core muscles. Here’s a guide to the proper technique when using this machine:

  • Stretch your arms in the direction of the flywheel while keeping them straight and your wrists flat. Maintain a straight back and lean forward with your upper torso and move the seat frontwards until your knees are fully bent.
  • Press your legs down while maintaining straight arms and a firm back. Slowly bend your arms and pull your upper torso back.
  • Pull on the handle until your elbows are behind your chest. The handles should be an inch from your abs. At the same time, tilt your upper body slightly back while keeping your legs extended.
  • Recover by stretching your arms back toward the flywheel. At the same time, your hips should follow your arms by bending your upper torso and sliding the seat forward.

It’s also a great cardio machine as well. Just look at those calories! Hello full body workout, goodbye boring elliptical.

4. Biking 
816 calories per hour


Looking to take a ride around town, explore the city, and hangout with friends at the same time? Although many of us picture riding the bike as a leisure activity, you can make your bicycle ride an intense workout by simply riding around the hills and bike paths in town. Instead of sitting in a sweaty room of people at spin class, get some fresh air and peddle along your favorite bike path outdoors.

If you don’t have a bike of your own, many campuses provide free bike rentals in their outdoor programs. Also, most bicycle stores offer daily rentals at reasonable rates. “On sunny weekend days I like to rent a bike from the UO outdoor program. It’s free and they give me great trail maps and routes around the city,” says Jeff Ackler, a junior at the University of Oregon.

5. Weight lifting
408 calories per hour


Although this exercise does not burn as many calories as the elliptical in an hour, it can be supplemented with any cardio workout to pack on the extra calorie burn. Plus, it’s always important to keep your muscles toned and strong. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat, so you continue to expend calories hours after your workout, even if you’re just going about your daily routine. Lifting weights regularly will encourage your body to lose fat, reduce risk of injury and best of all, boost your endorphins!

Check out this HC article on an introduction to weight training. You can find some great tips and ideas for different workouts to strengthen and tone your muscles.