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Burn Calories: The Best Exercises For Burning Calories

In the battle to keep our bodies functioning and healthy, calories are not the enemy.

"They're not as evil as many perceive them to be. Without sufficient calories, our brain, heart and lungs would not be able to function. Calories are not the enemy, but an overconsumption and underusage of them is," says Connie Beaulieu, personal trainer and owner of C.U. Fit Personal Training, based in Ottawa, Ont.

Calories are units of energy that help us function during day-to-day tasks. Women between the ages of 31 to 50 with low activity levels should eat about 2000 calories a day. Active women should consume 2250 calories, according to Statistics Canada.

Depending on how many calories you eat daily (you can calculate your recommended intake here) and how much weight you want to lose, some forms of exercise work better than others.

"The benefit with resistance training, for example, allows your body to burn calories for 48 to 72 hours after a workout as your muscles repair," Beaulieu says.

She notes there are about 3,500 calories in one pound of fat — so if you're looking at losing a significant amount of weight at a healthy rate, you should be working off (or cutting out) 500 calories from your daily intake to lose one pound per week. But remember, it is important to never go below your recommended calorie intake to lose weight, as eating appropriately while exercising is the best way to get healthy.

And for workout purposes, Beaulieu says to keep them simple and not rely heavily on automated calorie counters like those found on cardio machines. Ellipticals, she adds, are not always accurate when it comes to counting your burned calories. She advises aiming for at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise — including both cardio and strength training — in each session, and to always push yourself to work outside your comfort zone.

Ready to sweat? Here are Beaulieu's top eight exercises that burn the most calories:

8 Exercises That Burn Calories

Burpee With A Push-Up:

WORKS: Your full body

HOW TO: Start standing in an upright position and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Jump up in the air and raise your arms overhead. As you land, bend forward with the hips, reaching your hands onto the floor and kick your legs back into a push-up. Next, push off the toes and bring your knees and feet in towards the chest, and drop your hips back into a seated position and stand up. Repeat.

Squat And Row:

WORKS: Quad, glutes, hamstrings, back, biceps, core

HOW TO: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart in front of a cable machine or resistance band secured on a post. Extend the arms out in front of the body, and hold the cable or band handles with your thumbs up. Next, squat down and lower the body towards the ground, by pushing your hips back and bending the knees to a 90-degree angle. Make sure you're simultaneously pulling the handles into the torso (rib level) by bending the elbows. Repeat.

Alternating Lunges And Shoulder Press:

WORKS: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, core

HOW TO: Standing upright with feet parallel and apart, hold a dumbbell in each hand. With a firm grip, hold dumbbells at your shoulders and take a giant step forward with one leg. Lower the body into a lunge, bending both knees until the back knee hovers just above the floor. Your front knee should be placed directly over your ankle and remember not to lean forward.

Lower the dumbbells back down to side and step back into to a standing position. Keep alternating legs.

Kettlebell Swings:

WORKS: Your full body

HOW TO: Holding a kettlebell in both hands with legs shoulder-width apart, keep your core tight, thrust the hips forward, and allow the kettlebell to swing up slightly. Drop in to a squat position, ensuring your chest and head are up, back is in a neutral spine, and the kettlebell lands between the legs. Repeat.

Walking Lunge:

WORKS: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, core

HOW TO: Standing upright with feet parallel and apart, take a giant step forward with one leg, and lower the body towards the ground by bending both knees — remember, your front knee should be placed directly over your ankle. Step forward with the back leg into the next lunge.

Split Lunge:

WORKS: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, core

HOW TO: Standing upright with feet shoulder-width apart, place one foot in front and one foot behind in a wide stance. Keeping the torso upright and your arms to the side, lower the body towards the floor by bending the legs into a lunge position. Jump up in the air and switch the position of your front and back leg.

Jump Squats:

WORKS: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, core

HOW TO: Standing upright with your feet spaced shoulder-width apart, squat down by bending the knees. Jump up into the air, extending the knees, hips and pushing off the floor with the toes. Move into the next jump squat.

Plank Row Push-Up:

WORKS: Chest, shoulders, triceps, back and core

HOW TO: In a plank position with hands directly under your shoulders, grip dumbbells and lower into push-up position, keeping the back flat and the core tight. Press up into a plank and hold briefly. Also, this exercise can be modified by performing it on the knees. Repeat movement.

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