Losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise. Regardless of how hard you go in the gym, you can't out-train a poor diet. But what about losing body fat %? Keep it simple, to begin with, you need to consume fewer calories than you expend. This will put you into a calorie deficit. Calorie deficit, combined with exercising regularly will also boost your metabolism, and preserve muscle mass…. So, what are the best exercises for fat loss?
Ultimately, any exercise that gets you up and moving will help you to lose fat – providing your diet is in order or course. However, some exercises are undeniably better than others. Try to include at least some of the following in your next workout program.
1. PULL-UPS + BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES
You are probably wondering how a strength exercise like pull-ups/chin-ups can help you lose fat? Most would assume that it only works the upper body. This exercise is extremely difficult for many individuals. In fact, any exercise that is using all of your body weight is going to be challenging. Regardless of your weight, fitness level or body type, incorporating exercise that is using your body weight is extremely beneficial for fat loss.
There are many benefits of bodyweight exercises for fat loss:
- You can do anywhere at any time - Which will often increase the likelihood that you will quickly squeeze in a workout
- Alternative to cardio - Often bodyweight training is more beneficial than long cardio sessions. You can combine your sessions to have bursts of a cardio superset with bodyweight strength exercises. Which will aid in building muscle and calorie burn?
- Progression - Using bodyweight training to progress is an excellent tool in training. Each week you want to be seeing how many more reps you can progress to + add more variations to make more challenging.
- Results - Often bodyweight exercises are compound movements. This means that multiple muscles and joints are activated in the exercise. This will not only build strength but also performance.
2. KETTLEBELL SWINGS
Kettlebell swings are a fantastic posterior chain exercise that will also drive your heart rate sky-high. This combination means a set of heavyweight, high rep kettlebell swings will have a big impact on calorie expenditure, as well as your post-exercise oxygen consumption and metabolic rate. Superset with an upper-body exercise like push-ups to work virtually every muscle in your body in just two moves. If you are new to the kettlebell swing try working with a lighter weight and higher volume. You want to master the technique before you go too hard with the weight!
As we discussed above lack of time and training + equipment can conspire to stop you from achieving your fat loss goals. While you can lose fat through diet alone, it’s a whole lot easier when you add training into the mix.
Burpees are a compound movement and the perfect excuse-free fat-burning exercise.
You can do burpees anywhere when you find a mat length of space. The combination of dynamic movements and lots of muscles working together means that you’ll burn lots of calories, both while you are exercising and for several hours afterward.
To do a perfect burpee:
- Stand with your feet together, hands by your sides
- Squat down and place your hands flat on the floor by your feet
- Jump your feet out and back into the push-up position
- Do a single push-up
- Jump your feet back up and into your hands
- Leap up as high as you can
- Land on slightly bent knees, rolling toe to heal in your landing, and then repeat
If a full burpee is too much for you right now. Try using a step to put your hands up or, remove the push-up and/or jump.
So, how to incorporate burpees into your workout?
20-1 descending burpee pyramid – do 20 burpees, rest a moment, do 19 burpees, rest and again, etc. Keep going until you are down to one.
Race to 100 burpees – do 100 reps as fast as you can.
60-second burpee challenge – do as many reps as possible in 60 seconds. This is a great format to add as a finisher to your workouts, see how you can progress each session!
4. HILL SPRINTS
You can do sprints on an exercise bike, rower, or even an elliptical trainer but, if you are serious about fat loss, running up an outdoor hill is one of the most effective sprint variations you can do. With hill sprints, you have to work extra hard to overcome gravity and, unlike gym-based sprint training, your movements will be much more dynamic.
Yes, you could do sprints on a treadmill, but because the belt pulls your feet from under you, you won’t have to work as hard. Treadmill sprints are a controlled variable (and great for fitness), which you can easily track your speed and time windows. But if you are serious about improving your sprint training techniques then get outdoors!
How to get started?
- Go for a 5 to 10-minute jog to warm up and reach an appropriate hill. It should be between 30-50 meters long and steep enough that it will present a challenge.
- From a rolling start, sprint up your chosen hill, driving your legs and pumping your arms to generate extra momentum and speed.
- On reaching the top, walk back down to recover and then repeat.
- Do five reps, rest 2-3 minutes, and then do another five reps.
While momentum is generally best avoided, used purposely may actually enhance muscle building. The action of generating momentum can recruit an increased number of motor units and muscle fibers. However, this also means your muscles will not be under tension for as long.
Compensatory acceleration training, ‘CAT’ for short, makes the most of momentum while also exposing your muscles to sufficient muscle-building tension.
To perform a CAT rep, lower the weight under control, taking 2-3 seconds to do so. Then pause for another 1-2 seconds while maintaining muscle tension. Finally, you then lift the weight as fast as you can. That’s one rep – keep going! As an added benefit, CAT increases muscle power as well as muscle size.
Boxers are lean and mean for a very good reason – the type of training they do! Hitting a boxing bag is a great way to work off stress, and burn a whole lot of calories at the same time! If you’ve never spent three-minutes “working the bag” you may be surprised by just how challenging it is.
If you are new to boxing training, resist the temptation to try and hit it has hard and fast as you can – you’ll soon tire if you do that. One of the most important parts to boxing training is getting the form correct to start with. When boxing is practiced correctly, this workout is the ultimate compound training! It is highly recommended to get a coach to begin with, nail the technique and then take on the bag.
If you are feeling confident with your boxing form, try tackling this workout:
- See how many punches you can throw in three minutes while keeping your feet moving. Imagine you are sparing with an opponent, trying to avoid presenting a static target.
- Work for three minutes, rest for one minute, and repeat 5X, a total of 20 minutes. If three minutes is too long, reduce your work intervals to two minutes or even just 60 seconds. Increase the duration gradually as you get fitter.
7. STRENGTH TRAINING
Strength training is one of the best forms of fat burning exercises that can be added to your workouts. When practicing higher rep strength training, EPOC (Excessive Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption) occurs. This form of training can allow for your body to be burning calories during the workout, and post-workout you may be burning calories for up to 38 hours after the session. Consistent strength training and progression will also be building muscle mass. Holding more muscle mass means the opportunity for more calories and fat to be burnt!