The Best Fat-Burning Exercises And Workouts
Which fat-burning exercises really work? Try these killer programs and find out for yourself.
We asked the BodySpace community which workouts they recommend to lose weight. Here are the workouts from the two winners, along with their best tips on how to perform them! Get ready to burn fat and get in the best shape of your life.
The beach body: Lots of people try to get one, but only a few make it. It’s not lack of effort that gets in their way. It’s hard to put together the kind of workout routine that will work for you. It’s harder still to stick with the plan for the time it takes to see success. But it can be done, and lots of people make amazing progress when they commit themselves to keeping at it!
A well-designed fat-burning workout is multi-faceted, with a number of variables that determine how successful you might be. The two biggest variables are the workout you choose and the nutrition plan you put into place.
A Low-Volume, High Fat-Burning Workout
The best fat-burning workout is a mix of heavy training and cardio. Heavy weights are best for building muscle and improving strength. If you can keep building muscle while dieting and doing your cardio, you are in for some serious fat-burning.
As you go through my workout, be sure to keep a logbook of your exercises. Note the weight that you used and the number of reps you get on each and every exercise.
This workout to lose weight uses a Monday/Wednesday/Friday training split, with each week divided into upper body days and lower body days. You train your upper body twice the first week and lower body twice the second week. This kind of switching up can shock your muscles and result in good muscle growth and weight loss.
Once you’ve gone through the first two weeks of this program, repeat the workout, increasing the volume—upping the sets, reps, or the weight you use for each workout. The split focuses mainly on compound movements, which help keep your body releasing growth hormone to trigger as much strength and muscular growth as you can get when you’re dieting.
The notes you keep in your fat loss workout logbook will help you track your progress. If your weight starts to drop quickly and steadily, you may be dieting too hard and should re-examine your diet. The key to successful weight loss is to take it slow so you can lose the fat and keep the muscle you worked so hard to build.
My routine is may seem surprisingly low-volume, but it's no accident! This will help you to keep your muscles looking full even as you burn less muscle glycogen. And low volume routines are better for dieters who are running on minimum fuel.
It’s also quick, so you can burn fat and stimulate muscle growth without having to spend hours in the gym. It’s safer too. You’re more likely to injure yourself when you’re working out while dieting, just because you don’t have as much fuel as you’re used to.
Cardio Turns You Into A Fat-Burning Machine
Cardio is an absolutely crucial part of a successful fat-burning program, and my cardio regimen ties in with the diet plan to turn you into a fat-burning demon!
Do this cardio workout every day of the week, except on days that you train lower body in the gym. As soon as you wake up, hit the treadmill. By exercising before you have breakfast, you’re forcing your body to burn up stored fat for fuel.
Unlike my quick strength workout, my fat loss cardio workout is all about going slow. Each of the cardio sessions consists of 45-60 minutes on the treadmill at a slow place and on an incline. Aim for around 3.5-4 miles per hours on as steep of an incline as you can handle. When the cardio session seems easy to you, increase your incline level instead of your speed.
To Succeed at Fat-Burning, You MUST Diet!
The diet you use as part of your fat-burning program is the ultimate determining factor of success. All the running in the world won't do a thing if you’re taking in too many calories, especially if those calories are coming from all the wrong places—like sugar.
Use the following calculators to determine your daily targeted caloric intake and macronutrient breakdown. When choosing your activity level, be honest. If you say you’re more active than you really are, the calculator will give you more calories per day. If you aren’t able to burn them off through activity, guess where they’ll end up? As more body fat.
Choose the “Fat Loss” goal, the Macronutrient calculator to get the amounts of each macro that will put you in a caloric deficit. To be successful at losing body fat, focus on:
- Consuming at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. A high-protein diet is actually more beneficial when you're dieting than when you're not!
- Carb-cycling: Following a low-to-moderate carb diet, with fewer carbs on non-training days, and a little more on training days.
- Making sure you get lots of essential fatty acids (EFAs)
- Having as little sugar as possible
- Stopping all carb consumption after 6 PM
By following this diet, you’ll be training your body to burn stored fat instead of muscle tissue. By synching your carb intake with your workouts, you’ll be giving your body the energy it needs to get through that day’s training.
You want to get a lot of protein because it will help keep your body in an anabolic (muscle-building) state and not in a catabolic (muscle-reducing) state. The essential fatty acids will help make up for the lower level of carbs you’ll be consuming, giving you the energy you need to keep your metabolism running well. The last thing you want when trying to lose weight is a slow metabolism.
Sugars are predominantly stored as fat, so you want to avoid them at all costs. The one time sugars are OK to have is post-workout during the so-called "anabolic window," when an insulin spike will serve you well. Not familiar with the anabolic window? It's the 2-3 hours after your workout (although many lifters used to think it was as short as 30-45 minutes), when your muscles are most primed for growth, and fat is on the run. Learn more about it here.
One of the most important things about this diet plan is the 6 p.m. carb cutoff. By not eating carbs at night, your body depletes your glycogen stores while you sleep. Then, when you wake up and do your cardio, your body will turn to your stored fat for fuel since there is little-to-no muscle glycogen left over from the night before to burn in the day ahead.
Put It All Together To Reach Your Own Fat-Burning Goal
It’s important to realize that it isn't just the diet or just the cardio that will allow you to burn crazy amounts of fat. The weight lifting, the cardio, and the diet all combine to make your body burn fat instead of muscle for fuel. Expect to burn around 1 to 1.5 pounds of fat per week on this plan.
If you want to lose more or less fat per week, you can make changes to reach your goals. Your caloric deficit is one of the main determinants of how much fat you lose. If you want to drop weight quicker, lower your daily caloric intake by 250 calories. This can help you lose as much as another half pound per week.
Just remember that the body doesn’t want to burn fat too quickly. If you rush the fat-loss process, you can end up losing some of your hard-earned muscle. Given how crucial muscle is to losing fat and maintaining a healthy body, you don't want to do that!
There you go, that’s at least 4 weeks' worth of training. Follow this approach each week:
- Day 1: Train
- Day 2: Rest
- Day 3: Train
- Day 4: Rest
- Day 5: Train
- Day 6: Rest
- Day 7: Rest
- Repeat cycle!
Note: Keep changing up your cardio, such as two days on a stationary bike, then two days on an elliptical or treadmill. The next week, go out to skip rope or swim. Just keep switching it up to stay motivated, and to explore new ways to elevate your heart rate.
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown
Go-Heavy Total Body Workout
No one is immune to gaining unwanted fat, but with patience and a plan, you change your physique—and you just may end up changing your life.
To succeed, you must have a goal that’s strong enough for you to stick with—any maybe even enjoy—the work you will have to do. Whether your goal is for health, to be able to be active with your kids, or even for fitness competition, your goal will be a crucial part of the motivation you need to keep going.
For me, weightlifting is the true key to burning calories while maintaining muscle mass. That’s because having good musculature demands more energy. To maintain that energy, your body has to increase its metabolism, and the higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn from moment to moment. And burning calories means burning fat.
A Shockingly Good Fat-Burning Workout
Like they say, if you want to make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs. And my heavy workout with sets in the 8-12 rep range is going to take your muscle fibers to the breaking point. As opposed to going lighter with reps in 15-rep range, the heavier sets in his workout will bring your central nervous system into play and activate your whole body. It’s this kind of full-body engagement that cranks up your adrenaline to burn lots of calories.
Pushing your body with heavier weights while you’re calorie restricted will be a challenge. You just have to push your body so it keeps responding and developing. What works for me is to keep trying to set new personal records every week, even if they’re just an additional 5 pounds—not only for squat or deadlift, but for everything from barbell curls to triceps extensions.
Total body workouts help to bring up many body parts, and do it fast. More stimulation in each muscle fiber area helps the body to respond. With the proper nutrition, my approach can be devastatingly refreshing to those who do the standard two-body-part-a-day splits.
This fat-burning workout provides vital shock to the system, which can really boost metabolism and, in turn, burn more body fat daily—and do it in less time because you’re working more body parts.
How much weightlifting should be included in a fat-loss program?
Do as much as you were doing before you started to lose fat. If you’re new to the world of fat-loss, train exactly the way the plan is set out.
How much cardio should be included in a fat-loss program?
You should do cardio at least 4 days a week. For the best results, do cardio 20 minutes after weight training. This is a time when your body has used most of the available glycogen to lift the weights so your body will be primed to burn away stored body fat.
A Cardio Routine to Help You On Your Way
On training days, do 15 minutes of cardio at a rate that puts your heart rate is at right around 65 percent of your maximum. Over time, you’ll improve your conditioning and should be able to keep pushing the intensity.
During your first week of cardio, log how much distance you cover in the 15 minutes. Next week, try to go a farther distance in the same amount of time. Over time, you’ll improve your conditioning and should be able to keep pushing the intensity.
Here are 5 fitness mistakes women make when starting a new exercise program, including not knowing how hard to push themselves. Men would do well to check out this list too.
How Much Fat Can You Expect To Lose On This Plan?
If you are very overweight, with a BMI of 30-35, you could lose 30-50 pounds over a period of months. There is no limit to how well this program can work for you! You get out what you put in. My brother went from about 198 pounds to 160 pounds in a year. Today, he’s lean and mean and has abdominals you can wash clothes on.
Best Fat-Burning Exercises
Many of the best fat-burning exercises are just variations on the basics. Here are some really great ones to incorporate into your workouts!
Running: Whether on the track or the treadmill, sprinting is one of the best high intensity exercises. Alternate sprinting with jogging or walking, and pair with lifting.
Swimming: Changing for a swim can be a pain, but lap work is really whole-body work and burns up tons of calories. Do this on your free days—if you can carve some out!
Cycling: You can get a great workout on either a stationary, recumbent, or street bicycle.
Elliptical Machine: The elliptical is an awesome machine for low-impact cardio. You can do it slow and easy, or speed it up in intervals for some killer fat-burn.
To learn even more about how to torch fat, check out "The Ultimate 8-Week HIIT For Fat-Burning Program" by Jim Stoppani, Ph.D.