This post responds to a reader’s question: Which of your main studio classes burn the most calories per hour?
These days, everyone wants to burn as much as they can in classes, so they can get the most calorie “bang for buck” so to speak. Everyone wants a metabolism like the figure below:
Of course, the easy answer is: “The class that makes you work the hardest” but the truth is, even that is relative to each person. Some people prefer class formats purely out of comfort with the tools being used. For example, I know of people who refuse to touch a kettlebell, because their first experience with it gave them too much low back discomfort or wrist pain. Yet others appreciate its effects and have invested the time and energy in learning great technique.
Either way, class formats based on total body movement, such as kettlebells, ViPR, and TABATA, tend to offer the most calorie burn. The very nature of their program design and training protocol lends itself to high-intensity effort, typically to the point of offering high-intensity intervals to achieve the desired “EPOC” (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption) which basically allows one to burn more calories throughout the day, effectively creating a true metabolic effect.
Kettlebell exercise are typically driven by power moves. These are Olympic-style lifts, such as cleans, snatches, push-presses, etc. And of course, some moves are unique to kettlebells, as in swings.
Some don’t realize that the training mode of adding speed and managing the momentum you generate through these moves is the MAIN reason they can burn so many calories with kettlebell classes. However, using a kettlebell alone isn’t a guarantee of a max-calorie workout. I’ve seen people half-a$s their way through these workouts, and just like any exercise, what you get out of it depends on how much work you put into it.
ViPR moves aren’t just for high-intensity training, but from what I’m seeing out there, it’s the athletic-drill based exercises that are making this format most popular. And these drills are tough! Because they’re meant to improve your speed, agility, coordination, explosiveness, and ability to decelerate, classes tend to leave you practically breathless throughout.
So despite the non-use of Olympic-style lifts as in kettlebells, ViPR moves typically link lower-body movement with upper-body action, through proper core activation. And since cues for deceleration and re-acceleration are in most of the movements, the potential for high-calorie expenditure is great.
I personally tend to alternate a high-intensity ViPR move with a low-intensity move to allow for some “active recovery”. This has still kept heart rates well above typical other classes, while addressing the need for specific muscle groups to recover, while also changing the movement speed and pattern.
Part of the winning element in the use of ViPR is in the body’s inherent unfamiliarity with handling its shape, size, and weight. Anyone who is expert in kettlebell movement will still experience a learning curve, and thus an initial challenge in handling ViPR.
** stay tuned for PART II of this post, covering TABATA which can offer the most calorie burn of these types of classes, depending on program design. Part II also covers general guidance for training with these high-intensity formats.