As a key component of weight loss, burning calories through exercise is a very misunderstood subjects within the field of health and fitness. However, if you take the time to understand how you are actually burning calories then it is defintely a subject worth researching if you are to get the most from your workouts.
When people talk about burning calories, or "calorie burning", and exercise there are really two areas they are talking about. The first is the short-term - how much will this work out burn while I'm actually doing it. The second is the long term - what effect will this workout have on my metabolism. This is where most of the misunderstandings lie - it is also the area where people have most to gain from their workouts.
The key to understanding calorie burning and exercise is to ignore the short term, and focus on the long-term. If a particular workout raises your metabolism, it is increasing the amount you burn 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The most effective workouts for raising the metabolism are interval training (cardiovascular workouts with short bursts of speed mixed in), and resistance training. Resistance training works on two counts - firstly, the intensity of it raises your metabolism. Secondly, by adding lean muscle, you further increase the amount you burn.
Research has shown other things to be helpful in raising metabolism and maximising the fat burning effect of your workouts. One is split workouts - two short workouts per day burn more than one longer one; another is watching what you eat after a workout - consuming a carbohydrate laden drink or snack right after a workout will shut off the post-workout burning process, while a more protein intensive one will allow the burning to continue longer.