If your goal is to burn fat and lose weight, focus on strength-building exercises that target your whole body. Full-body exercises are ideal since they work several muscle groups at once, saving you time and energy.
With the right approach toward weight loss, you’ll be able to burn fat and build muscle, which helps you to burn more calories even at rest. Plus, you’ll tone your body and are likely to start feeling better mentally and physically in the process.
Your results are dependent on the quality of effort you put toward your goals, so be consistent and disciplined in your approach.
Let’s look at some of the best weight-loss exercises, grouped for beginning, intermediate, and advanced workouts. For each exercise, do 2 to 5 sets of 6 to 15 repetitions.
You can modify this classic bodyweight exercise to suit your level and to target different muscles as needed. Check out a few pushup variations for beginners.
- Begin by lying on your stomach with your legs extended.
- Place your palms on the floor directly under your shoulders.
- Press into your hands and heels as you lift your chest, torso, and legs from the floor.
- Engage your core as you hold this position for 1 second.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
You can do lunges with or without weights. Once you’ve perfected your form, you can move on to lunge variations.
- From standing, step your right foot forward to form a 90-degree angle with your knee, making sure your knee doesn’t extend past your ankle.
- Position your back knee so that it’s parallel to the floor.
- Pause for a moment before returning your right leg to the starting position.
- Do the opposite side.
Work on perfecting your form with bodyweight squats before moving on to weights. There are plenty of squat variations to mix up your routine.
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart with your arms alongside your body.
- Engage your core and broaden your chest as you push your hips back and down as though you’re going to sit down.
- Pause once your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Press into your feet to lift yourself back to the starting position.
Dumbbell front squat
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand and place your feet hip-width apart.
- Bend your arms to rest the one end of each weight on your shoulders.
- From here, lower your hips down and back into a squat position.
- Explosively push up through your heels to rise to the starting position.
Dumbbell chest press
You can also try this exercise one arm at a time.
- Lie on your back on a bench (or for extra core stability work, an exercise ball).
- Position your hands above your chest, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Fully extend your arms as you press the weights straight above your shoulders.
- Pause for a moment before lowering the weights to the starting position.
To vary your routine, you can always modify burpees to be easier or more challenging.
- Stand with your feet directly under your hips.
- Lower into a squat and place your hands on the floor under your shoulders.
- Hop your legs back to a pushup position.
- Do 1 pushup before jumping your feet forward.
- Extend your arms overhead and jump up explosively.
- As soon as you land, lower back down into a squat.
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart with the barbell in front of your feet.
- Lower your hips down and back slightly as you hinge at your hips to pick up the barbell.
- Push your hips forward to rise into a standing position.
- Position the bar slightly below your hips.
- Elongate your spine and bend your knees slightly.
- Push your hips back, bend your knees, and hinge back down to the starting position, returning the bar to the floor.
To target muscles differently, you can do this exercise using dumbbells, giving you an extra challenge in shoulder stability and grip.
- Lie on your back on a bench.
- Position the barbell at chest level, holding it with your hands at shoulder-width.
- Engage your shoulders and core as you push the barbell off the rack before lowering it until it skims your chest.
- On an exhale, explosively push the bar back up the starting position.
- Press your feet into the footplate.
- Engage your core as you use your feet to push the footplate away from you.
- Extend your legs as much as possible while keeping your head and back flat against the pad.
- Pause for a moment, maintaining a slight bend in your knees.
- Slowly bend your knees to lower the footplate to the starting position.
Create a routine that helps you set and achieve realistic, safe, and sustainable weight loss goals.
Here are a few tips for creating an effective weight loss routine:
- Weekly goal. Aim to exercise for at least 200 minutes per week.
- Daily goal. Do some type of physical activity every day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes, rather than doing a few long workouts each week.
- Order of exercise. Do the most difficult exercises first at the beginning of each workout.
- Workout intensity. Increase the intensity of your workouts and opt for heavier weight for weightlifting exercises.
- Recovery time. Give yourself 24 to 48 hours to recover between sessions targeting the same muscle groups.
- Rest. Avoid fatigue and overexertion by getting plenty of rest. This includes allowing for at least one full day of rest or light activity each week.
- Sleep. Sleep more when you need it to help to enhance your energy levels.
- Workout variety. Change up your workouts at least once a month to prevent boredom and plateauing. This keeps your routine fresh and ensures you’re targeting different muscle groups.
- Other types of workouts. In addition to weightlifting and bodyweight exercises, do other types of workouts such as aerobics, balancing, and stretching exercises.
Diet and exercise go hand in hand with weight loss. Along with your workout routine, you’ll want to follow a healthy diet and reduce your calorie intake.
What’s a recommended weight loss diet?
- Healthy food. Go for healthy sources of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and reduce processed foods containing refined carbs, salt, and sugar.
- Fruits and veggies. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Hydration. Drink plenty of water, healthy drinks, and unseated coffee or green tea to stay hydrated, cleanse your system, and help you feel full as well as increase your metabolism. Include healthy drinks such as herbal tea, coconut water, and vegetable juice.
- Intermittent fasting. Experiment with intermittent fasting, which consists of cycles of fasting and eating to help you reduce your caloric intake without compromising muscle mass.
- Behavioral changes. Try behavioral changes like chewing more slowly, using smaller dishes, and controlling the size of your portions. You can also eat mindfully, free of any distractions, and stop eating before you feel full.
If you don’t see any weight loss results after following a routine, talk with your doctor.
Your doctor may check for or rule out any underlying conditions that could be limiting your weight loss. This may include:
- polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- sleep apnea
Likewise, make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you start to feel tired, fatigued, or run-down, especially if you’re not seeing any weight loss results. You could be overexerting yourself.
You can achieve your strength-building and weight loss goals as long as you have the drive, discipline, and commitment to follow a healthy exercise and diet plan.
Remember that change takes time, so be patient as it may take a few months to see results. To see weight loss results, commit to at least 30 minutes of daily exercise and make healthy changes to your diet.
To maintain your results, stick to your routine even after you start to see progress. Over time, you’ll feel more confident, healthy, and strong, which will motivate you to continue.