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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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