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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

Celebrity Coach, Author and Mindfulness expert

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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