You are here

10 Summer Sports That Torch Serious Calories

  • Shutterstock

    Rock Climbing

    What it works: Everything

    Why it's cool: If you want to work every muscle in your body—and we literally mean every single one—rock climbing is your go-to sport. From your forearms and fingers (grip strength for the win) to your back, core, butt, and legs, no muscle gets left behind. Not sure if you're ready to hit the great outdoors to cover a route? Liz Letchford, trainer for The North Face Mountain Athletics workouts, suggests trying bouldering at your local rock climbing gym first. You won't be in a harness, and you'll practice moving across various routes while staying close to the wall. "If you can hold onto the wall and stay close to it for a few routes, even if they're easier ones, then you're good to go outside," she says. "Just take it down a notch in grade [that's your level of difficulty] from what you do in the gym until you're more comfortable with the outdoor conditions, and always go with someone who knows what they're doing and is comfortable with the route you're trying to climb."

    Calories burned: 645

    All calorie estimations provided by Adam Rosante, certified trainer, and based on a 30-year-old woman, 5'5" in height and 130 pounds, doing the sport for one hour.

  • Shutterstock

    Beach Volleyball

    What it works: Legs, butt, shoulders, and core

    Why it's cool: There's a reason Kerri Walsh Jennings has rock-hard abs—beach volleyball requires a ton of power from your core so you can hit hard, pass accurately, and move fast. Add sand to all of that and you automatically make your workout even more intense, as it's just plain hard to move in the soft stuff. Working in plyometrics will help with the explosive power you need to get those mad jumps up at the net, and Pilates is a favorite of Jennings to get that core strength you need to slam the ball down—on your opponents' side, obviously. Bonus: Playing this summer sport basically means you automatically look amazing in a bikini.

    Calories burned: 470

  • Shutterstock


    What it works: Legs, butt, and core

    Why it's cool: Perfect for all fitness levels, hiking is a great date idea or family-friendly activity. Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak likes to send his clients in Los Angeles to hike through the various canyons (Runyon is a favorite for many stars), and he says tackling a route with a big elevation change will be easy on the joints while making your muscles work hard. To gauge whether you're at a good calorie-burning pace, Letchford suggests using a heart rate monitor or trying the talk test. "If you can talk intermittently and get in a few words between each breath, you're at a good pace," she says. "If you can easily get out sentences, you're ready to pick up the pace; if you can barely squeak out a few words, you may want to pull back."

    Calories burned: 350

  • Shutterstock

    Water Polo

    What it works: Legs, butt, shoulders, back, and core

    Why it's cool: Next time you have a big backyard bash, rally the troops to play a sport they've probably never tried before. Not only will your legs, butt, and core get a workout from all the water treading you'll be doing (try the eggbeater kick, where your left leg rotates clockwise while the right moves counter-clockwise, to be the most efficient one in the water), but your shoulders and back will too as you use one arm to pass, catch, and shoot the ball into the opposing team's goal.

    Calories burned: 590

  • Shutterstock


    What it works: Legs, butt, shoulders, back, arms, and core

    Why it's cool: Whether your dream bod looks like Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki or Maria Sharapova, there's no denying that these ladies all look fierce—and fabulous. Once you choose the outfit that shows off your personality best (come on, there aren't many sports that let you look so darn cute while you work like a boss), setting the pace of your court workout high is what's going to really rev your calorie burn. In other words, casually lobbing it back and forth with your partner isn't going to do much, but an intense singles or doubles game definitely will.

    Calories burned: 360

  • Shutterstock


    What it works: Legs, butt, and core

    Why it's cool: An intense cardio workout that adds another layer to running, soccer works some of the largest muscles in your body, says Pasternak. "Your quads, hamstrings, and calves are trained while you run, and as you move laterally [side to side, or in zigzag directions as you chase the ball around the field], the muscles around your hips—your adductors and abductors—get toned," he says. That lateral movement is key for runners, as that area tends to be weak from moving forward in only one direction. Pasternak says soccer is also a great summer sport to practice working out in an optimal heart rate zone, when your body is working at a prime calorie-burning level. Using an activity monitor with built-in GPS and heart rate tracking, like the Fitbit Surge, will help you train in that zone and keep track of steps and distance covered.

    Calories burned: 415

  • Shutterstock


    What it works: Shoulders, back, core, and legs

    Why it's cool: Golf works a lot of the main muscles in your body, and it provides a bonus workout for your brain (hey, it's not easy getting those shots in—and explains why it's always so darn quiet). You're obviously going to burn more if you opt to walk the course rather than ride in a golf cart, says Adam Rosante, certified trainer and author of The 30-Second Body. Not only will your legs cover quite the distance (an average 18-hole course can cover five to six miles), but you'll burn extra calories if you forgo the caddy and carry your own gear.

    Calories burned: 265

  • Shutterstock


    What it works: Arms, chest, back, shoulders, legs, and core

    Why it's cool: If you're really looking for summer sports that don't make you feel like you're working out, swimming is the ultimate winner. You're way less likely to break a sweat when you're in the water, and the buoyancy of the water itself helps you feel like you can work harder for longer periods of time. But don't be fooled—swimming is a full-body workout, especially if you choose more challenging strokes like breast and butterfly, says Rosante. To up the ante, incorporate tools like hand paddles and pull buoys to force you to zero in on your technique (great if you're prepping for triathlons). And when you just need a breather, well, there's nothing wrong with a good ol' doggy paddle.

    Calories burned: 360

  • Shutterstock


    What it works: Arms, shoulders, back, legs, butt, and core

    Why it's cool: While you may not have a sky-high calorie burn after chasing waves, don't think you won't wake up feeling all sorts of sore the next day. Surfing is a total-body workout that requires endurance, balance, and explosive power. And if your abs aren't prepared for a flab-blasting session, forget it—all the power you need to paddle out, pop up, and ride the wave comes from your core. Try this seven-minute surfer's workout from Rosante, then get ready to hang ten (and endure a few wipeouts—hey, it's all part of the fun).

    Calories burned: 185

  • Shutterstock


    What it works: Arms, shoulders, back, and core

    Why it's cool: It's a cool way to sightsee on vacation and a relaxing way to rev your calorie burn when you're not looking to skyrocket your heart rate. You can set your own paddle pace, though, and if you maintain a quick clip, you'll definitely feel your back straightening, abs tightening, and arms burning. Remember to pull from your core when paddling so your arms don't burn out too quickly (focus on sitting up straight and sucking your belly to your spine). And if you want an extra challenge, hit an area that has waves for you to navigate.

    Calories burned: 295


Samantha Lefave

Samantha is a writer who is living, eating and sweating her way through NYC. You can find her running half-marathons like it's her job, Instagramming her favorite food and fitness finds or, let's be honest, eating peanut butter straight from the jar.

 More →
More from Samantha
  • 10 Plyometric Leg Exercises You Need for More Power
  • 6 Things to Know About Exercising on Your Period
  • How to Clean Your Headphones