The best 6 endurance sports for losing weight

The best 6 endurance sports for losing weight: Running, swimming or would you rather row? We’ll show you which sport burns the most calories.

Which endurance training is best for losing weight?


  • Why is endurance sport so good for losing weight?
  • Which endurance training is best for losing weight?
  • What heart rate do I need to maintain to lose weight effectively?
  • Should I avoid strength training?
  • How often should I do endurance exercise to lose weight?

If you want to lose weight, you should train regularly and move as much as possible in everyday life. But which sport causes the excess pounds to melt away the fastest?

In fact, any type of physical activity gets your metabolism going. You burn more calories just by going for a walk than by hanging out on the sofa. The body draws the energy that is burned during movement from food intake or from reserves – including excess kilos. Of course, there are activities that require more energy from the body than others.

You often hear: If you want to lose weight, you should do cardio exercise, which means training the cardiovascular system. In German we usually translate cardio as endurance sports . But why should you do endurance sports to lose weight, and which type of endurance sports is most beneficial? Check out Full Bodyweight Exercises for Weight Loss for Beginners


Why is endurance sport so good for losing weight?

If you want to lose weight, you should first and foremost consume fewer calories than you burn. If you don’t want to go hungry and don’t want to go without your favorite foods, you should also do some exercise. The math is simple: more exercise increases calorie consumption, making it easier to create a deficit.

Endurance training is best suited for this. You train at low to moderate intensity over a longer period of time. Because then the so-called aerobic energy production begins and the body burns fat (reserves). A US study from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, examined which type of training is most effective in weight loss. One experimental group completed strength training over a certain period of time and a second experimental group completed endurance training. A subsequent measurement of the test subjects’ body fat percentage clearly showed that aerobic training, i.e. running etc., is the best way to lose weight.

When running, biking or swimming, you have a permanently elevated heart rate, which boosts your energy burning throughout the duration of the training. You burn hundreds of calories. Energy that the body has to get from somewhere. For example from the unwanted fat stores. Plus: The so-called afterburn effect sets in: your metabolism is still more active hours after cardio training. You will also use more energy during this time than without the previous exercise session.

Which endurance training is best for losing weight?

Calorie consumption is crucial for how well an activity contributes to weight loss. We compared running, swimming, cycling, rowing, cross trainers and walking:

Ride a bike – sports for losing weight at home

If a 75-pound athlete rides the bike leisurely for about 30 minutes, he or she burns 231 calories . Roughly speaking, energy consumption per hour can be estimated at around 300 to 600 calories. That’s quite remarkable, isn’t it? In comparison, this is still a little less than when running, swimming or rowing. This is because other endurance sports use even more muscles, while cycling mainly uses the lower body. Training on a bike is suitable for pretty much everyone. While you have to struggle with a bit of excess weight when running, this is irrelevant when cycling because well over half of your body weight is carried by the saddle.

Cycling has convinced you, but the changeable weather and the comparatively low calorie consumption make you hesitate? Then try indoor cycling or spinning: you can also train indoors with the Peloton bikes . The bikes are equipped with integrated, high-resolution and rotating screens and you can set a scenic ride so that you can also ride indoors through great environments. In addition to on-demand courses, there is also the opportunity to attend live events. All courses are led by professional trainers. Top!

Run – Top sports for losing weight

Running is the most effective way to control your weight and lose weight successfully. Because running and jogging burns a significant amount of calories in a very short period of time. How many calories you burn depends on your body weight, the distance and your running pace. A runner weighing 75 kilos who jogs for half an hour at an average mileage of 6:20 minutes burns 385 calories . If you run for a whole hour, it’s already 770 calories. Jogging is therefore ideal for losing weight. Plus, you can do it anytime, anywhere. Whether outside in the park, on the street, in the gym or on the treadmill. All you need is a pair of running shoes and you’re ready to go. If you want to track the calories you burn, you can also think about purchasing a sports watch. With all sorts of smart coaching and analysis functions, the Polar Ignite 2 is ideal for anyone who wants guidance and motivation for their everyday sporting life.

To swim

In half an hour of relaxed swimming you will burn between 308 and 350 calories , depending on how fast you are going. By the way, the quickest way to shed the pounds is when swimming in front crawl. In addition, the organism burns fat in water particularly effectively. This is because the thermal conductivity of water is about 25 times greater than that of air. The body cools down more quickly and therefore constantly tries to compensate for heat loss through increased metabolism.

Plus: Your ligaments, tendons, joints and bones are relieved because water reduces the force of gravity acting on your body. Compared to other endurance sports such as running or cycling, the strain on your joints is significantly minimized and the risk of injury is significantly reduced. Swimming is also one of the few endurance sports that puts particular strain on the arms.

Rowing – sports for losing weight at gym

Rowing machines have long been an integral part of cardio areas in gyms, and for good reason. If you use the rowing machine for just half an hour, you will burn around 300 calories . Rowing requires a lot of different muscles: shoulder, arm, back and leg muscles are involved in the rowing process. Since almost all of the muscles are used, but no muscle too much, rowing is a healthy sport for everyone. For more variety in the gym, choose the rowing machine instead of the cross trainer or treadmill in the future. Would you rather get your own rowing machine for home?

Cross trainer – Best sports for losing weight and toning

The cross trainer is the classic way to warm up before a workout, but it can do much more than that. The movement sequence is similar to running, but the feet never leave the ground. This means that training on the cross trainer is much gentler on the joints than running on the treadmill, where the joints have to absorb the entire body weight with every step. In addition, the torso and arms also participate in the movement, which has a positive effect on calorie consumption. After 30 minutes on the cross trainer at medium exertion, you’ll have burned around 250 calories and, ideally, streamed your favorite series at the same time.

Walking – Good sports for losing weight

When walking quietly (around 5 km/h), 135 calories are burned in half an hour. Walking is great for beginners. The joints are protected and the body slowly gets used to the new strain. You will gradually build up basic endurance and be out in the fresh air regularly. Training in a walking group or with friends is also super communicative and sustainably increases your motivation to stay on the ball. Initial walking units are also ideal for getting started with running.

What heart rate do I need to maintain to lose weight effectively?

The pulse indicates how many times your heart beats per minute. Depending on your training goal, your heart rate should be in a different range. For example, if your main goal is to burn fat and stay fit, training at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate is sufficient. In this area, your body uses fat as an energy source and the cardiovascular system is trained.

To find out your maximum heart rate, there is a rough rule of thumb: 220 minus the athlete’s age. Attention: This is only a rough guideline and the pulse can vary greatly for each person.

Calculation example: So if you are 35 years old, in order to burn fat effectively, you should train with a heart rate of around 111-130. Your maximum heart rate would therefore be approximately 185 (220-35=185) and 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate would then correspond to 111 to 130.

Should I avoid strength training?

The rumor that you should only do endurance sports to lose weight persists. But any kind of physical activity stimulates the metabolism. Plus: Through strength training you increase your muscle mass and the more muscles you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate. This means: More muscles mean a higher energy requirement. So, in addition to endurance sports, rely on strength training, which not only provides more variety and more motivation, but also faster weight loss success because you burn more when resting and during training. It’s best to train particularly large muscle groups, such as the buttocks and thigh muscles. Because muscles use energy around the clock, even when you sleep: 1 kilo of muscle mass can burn up to 100 calories a day. And with every gram more muscle you support fat loss.

How often should I do endurance sports for losing weight?

Try to train 2 to 3 times a week and you will start to see results not only on the scales but also in the mirror. But don’t overdo it, your body needs breaks to regenerate . Take a recovery day between your sessions or do strength training after a strenuous run and, for example, train the arms that were allowed to take a break the day before. There’s nothing wrong with an easy regeneration run, a walk or a relaxing ride on the bike on the rest of the day. Especially if you’re just starting out with endurance training, you should take it slowly; your muscles and joints first have to get used to the new strain.

We present number 1 of the top endurance sports if you want to lose weight: running. However, in order to achieve long-term weight loss success and not lose motivation due to boredom, you should vary your training. This also includes strength training, which even causes you to increase your basal metabolic rate and burn even more calories when running, rowing and swimming.


Duke University Health System (2016): Aerobic Exercise Trumps Resistance Training for Weight and Fat Loss. Duke Health, [online]


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