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Published on December 25, 2019

10 Best Workouts to Lose Weight and Burn Fat

10 Best Workouts to Lose Weight and Burn Fat

If you’re a regular gym-goer and have indulged yourself a bit too much over the festivities, you might be looking for the quickest strategies to burn off the extra layers you’ve gained around your waist.

A common question my new clients ask me at the start of each year is “what are the best workouts to lose weight and burn fat?” and, very likely, that’s something you’re wondering as well since you’re reading this article.

The reality is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to this question, but there are ways to maximize the calories and fat you consume while exercising.

In this article, I’m going to explore which type of exercise consumes the most calories and why that may not matter when it comes to fat loss. I will also give you a framework of 10 activities you can do each day that will help you maximize the amount of fat you burn (yes, even belly fat).

What Exercise Burns the Most Fat?

Before getting to the meat, let me break a myth: no exercise will burn more belly fat. That’s a sad truth, I know.

Different types of exercise have a different metabolic impact on the body. This means that some types of exercises consume more calories while you’re doing them, and other types consume less.

If you’re looking for pure calorie-consumption, the science is clear: some activities burn more than others. Exercises like weight training don’t burn as much as cardio, but they have an afterburn effect.[1] A common trick to add the afterburn effect to the most calorie-consuming cardio activities is to implement the HIIT strategy (I’ll explain how to do that for each of the activities I’m going to suggest).

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for net fat loss, you might have to take into consideration several variables in addition to what exercise you’re performing (such as sleep, rest, nutrition, and stress management).

For now, I’m going to explore the most and least calorie-consuming type of exercise, and I’ll tell you how to make them even more calorie-consuming.

1. Jumping Rope

The burn:

667-990 calories/hour (if you’re jumping at 120 skips per minute)

The bonus burn:

As it turns out, this little rope is actually a big-time fat burner. Try using a weighted jump rope to engage your arms and shoulders even more.

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2. Running Up Hills/Stair Sprints

The burn:

639-946 calories/hour

The bonus burn:

You want to sprint at max effort on stairs or a hill at a pace that you can only maintain for about 20 seconds, and follow that with a recovery run at half of the intensity of the sprint and double the time. The harder you push yourself during those sprints, the greater the burn. This is a type of HIIT, a renowned type of cardio training that consumes more calories per minute than steady-state cardio.[2]

3. Kickboxing

The burn:

582-864 calories/hour

The bonus burn:

Whether you’re kicking it on your own or in class, make sure you keep the rest periods between rounds of jabs and kicks super short. Aim for 30 seconds of rest for every 90 seconds of sparring. Once again, follow the HIIT principle.

4. Cycling Intervals

The burn:

568-841 calories/hour

The bonus burn:

Riding at a sustained high intensity will give you a greater burn as compared to a steady-state ride at a low intensity, but adding high-intensity intervals throughout that training time will increase the afterburn even more.

5. Running

The burn:

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566-839 calories/hour (10 min/mile)

The bonus burn:

After running at a steady pace, you’ll continue to burn extra calories over the rest of the day. To torch more during and after your workout, add short bursts of sprints into your run. I recommend keeping a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio to get the most afterburn. For example, if you run for 60 seconds, walk 30 seconds.

6. Kettlebell Circuit

The burn:

554-822 calories/hour

The bonus burn:

A HIIT circuit using kettlebells can keep the afterburn going for 36 hours after you leave the gym. To get the best results, make sure you’re doing a fluid circuit and not stopping to rest between each move. I recommend switching between upper- and lower-body movements so you can keep exercising for a longer period of time. Try doing a set of kettlebell swings, kettlebell squats, and kettlebell push presses. Then, rest for 15 to 20 seconds after completing the three moves.

7. Stationary Bike

The burn:

498-738 calories/hour (at a vigorous pace)

The bonus burn:

To get the most afterburn, start with 10 seconds of intense pedaling (100 RPMs or more) and 50 seconds of rest. Then, move to 15 seconds of sprints and 45 seconds of rest, and do 20 seconds of sprints 40 seconds of rest after that. Don’t forget to turn up the resistance as you progress.

8. Rowing Machine

The burn:

481-713 calories/hour (at 150 watts, which you can check on the machine)

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The bonus burn:

To get maximum calorie burn, row in fast, one-minute intervals (150 watts), and take 30- to 60-second active rest periods by alternating between squats, pushups, and planks.

9. Stairs

The burn:

452-670 calories/hour (when going 77 steps/minute)

The bonus burn:

Whether you’re working the StairMaster or running steps around town like Rocky, stair climbing provides a good mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercise. To up the ante, hold a dumbbell in each hand to get your upper body fired up, too.

10. Strength Training

The burn:

341-504 calories/hour

The bonus burn:

You’ll increase your afterburn by working your muscles to exhaustion each set instead of stopping at an arbitrary rep range like 10 or 12. And focus on compound movements that employ more muscle groups over more joints like deadlifts and overhead presses.

Surprise surprise, weight training ranks at the bottom of the chart, and you might be wondering whether cardio is better than weight training for weight loss. Let me answer that.

Is Cardio Better Than Weight Training for Weight Loss?

And the answer is…drum roll…

Yes!

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Yes, if you want to see that number on the scale drop, cardio will do a better job than weight training. For example, a study from the University of Copenhagen looked at the effect of cycling to work versus hitting the gym for weight loss among overweight people.[3]

They divided the participants into two groups: Group one was asked to cycle a 14k commute to work twice a day when group two was asked to exercise five days per week at the gym from 35 to 55 minutes per session. Surprisingly, the group that cycled was the one experiencing the highest amount of weight loss.

Does this mean that doing cardio five times each week will burn the most fat? Not necessarily.

The main issue with only focusing on cardio when trying to lose weight is that combining long sessions with a daily caloric deficit (eating fewer calories than what we consume each day), inevitably leads to muscle loss.

Having more muscle tissue has been linked to a multitude of benefits like increased thyroid function (that also boosts metabolism), improved blood sugar levels (that, in turn, help with fat loss), reduced stress levels (that contribute not just to health but also to fat loss) and improved energy (that makes you more likely not to skip training sessions or to snack on comfort food).[4]

The big question in your mind at this point might be: how do I maximize the calories I burn without losing muscle?

The solution: combining weight training with HIIT cardio.

A new study by researchers at Wake Forest University suggests combining weight training with a low-calorie diet preserves much needed lean muscle mass that can be lost through aerobic workouts.[5]

This evidence leads us to consider a mixed approach to exercise (that incorporates weights, HIIT, and regular cardio) as the best approach to a healthy and quick fat loss.

How Much Should I Exercise to Lose Weight?

The answer to this question is extremely personal, and it needs to take into considerations:

  • Your current level of exercise
  • Your schedule
  • Your ability to rest and recover (dictated by sleep and stress)
  • Your diet

That being said, a good idea to kickstart your fat-loss journey would be to pick one of the top 3 calorie-burning activities I’ve listed above and combine it with a few weight training sessions each week.

If you’re a beginner, start with one hour each week and build up according to how you feel. If you’re a seasoned athlete, you can probably handle anywhere from five to twelve hours of mixed cardio and weights each week.

Once again, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Experiment and find out what works best for you.

More About Losing Weight

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Borba via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Davide Alfonsi

Online Weight Loss And Exercise Specialist

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Last Updated on November 5, 2020

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. A rut can manifest as a productivity vacuum and be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. Is it possible to learn how to get out of a rut?

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, or a student, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on Small Tasks

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks that have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate positive momentum, which I bring forward to my work.

If you have a large long-term goal you can’t wait to get started on, break it down into smaller objectives first. This will help each piece feel manageable and help you feel like you’re moving closer to your goal.

You can learn more about goals vs objectives here.

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2. Take a Break From Your Work Desk

When you want to learn how to get out of a rut, get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the bathroom, walk around the office, or go out and get a snack. According to research, your productivity is best when you work for 50 minutes to an hour and then take a 15-20 minute break[1].

Your mind may be too bogged down and will need some airing. By walking away from your computer, you may create extra space for new ideas that were hiding behind high stress levels.

3. Upgrade Yourself

Take the down time to upgrade your knowledge and skills. Go to a seminar, read up on a subject of interest, or start learning a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college[2]. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a Friend

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while. Relying on a support system is a great way to work on self-care when you’re learning how to get out of a rut.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget About Trying to Be Perfect

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism can lead you to fear failure, which can ultimate hinder you even more if you’re trying to find motivation to work on something new.

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If you allow your perfectionism to fade, soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come, and then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

Learn more about How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up.

6. Paint a Vision to Work Towards

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the ultimate goal or vision you have for your life?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action. You can use the power of visualization or even create a vision board if you like to have something to physically remind you of your goals.

7. Read a Book (or Blog)

The things we read are like food for our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great material.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. You can also stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs and follow writers who inspire and motivate you. Find something that interests you and start reading.

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8. Have a Quick Nap

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep[3].

Try a nap if you want to get out of a rut

    One Harvard study found that “whether they took long naps or short naps, participants showed significant improvement on three of the four tests in the study’s cognitive-assessment battery”[4].

    9. Remember Why You Are Doing This

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall your inspiration, and perhaps even journal about it to make it feel more tangible.

    10. Find Some Competition

    When we are learning how to get out of a rut, there’s nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, and networking conventions can all inspire you to get a move on. However, don’t let this throw you back into your perfectionist tendencies or low self-esteem.

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    11. Go Exercise

    Since you are not making headway at work, you might as well spend the time getting into shape and increasing dopamine levels. Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, or whatever type of exercise helps you start to feel better.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

    If you need ideas for a quick workout, check out the video below:

    12. Take a Few Vacation Days

    If you are stuck in a rut, it’s usually a sign that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange one or two days to take off from work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax, do your favorite activities, and spend time with family members. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest.

    More Tips to Help You Get out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Ashkan Forouzani via unsplash.com

    Reference

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