Fitness Training

12 Amazing Fat-Burning Exercises You Need to Try Today

Best Fat-Burning Exercises

Some of the best fat-burning exercises on one page, what’s not to like?

Stop eating carbs. Exercise more often. Try this diet. Do more cardio.

We’ve heard it all before.

Unfortunately, there are so many myths and misunderstandings surrounding fat-burning.

So, what actually causes fat loss? Is exercise the key to fat-burning?

What Causes Fat-Burning?

While exercise can contribute towards fat-burning, it does not directly cause fat loss.

For significant fat loss to be made, a negative energy balance needs to be established (1). This is where more calories are expended than consumed.

The body needs calories every day to maintain function. If the body fails to get enough energy through food, it must find it from another source.

Therefore, by establishing a negative balance, the body will break down stored body fat to use for energy.

The most effective way to establish this negative energy balance is to restrict the number of calories consumed.

Exercise can contribute towards this negative balance too. Movement burns calories and therefore, exercise has great potential to burn calories.

The greater the number of calories that we burn, the more likely that a negative balance will be established.

It may be possible to place the body into a negative balance through either nutritional changes or increasing activity levels.

However, for optimizing fat-burning, it is recommended to combine both (2).

What Type of Exercise Burns The Most Calories?

Considering the process behind fat loss, it makes sense to prioritize exercises that burn the highest amount of calories.

By performing these exercises, we can burn a significant amount of calories. And by burning a high number of calories we can ensure that a negative energy balance is established.

Okay, so which exercises burn the highest number of calories?

Exercises that are highly taxing on the body will burn the greatest number of calories.

Full-body exercises are best as they place a significant demand on a number of muscles. Because so many muscles are engaged, a large number of calories are expended.

Keeping in mind that highly taxing exercises burn a significant number of calories, adding resistance will increase the demands.

For bringing about fat loss, many use bodyweight exercises as they are simple and effective.

Although bodyweight exercises have their uses, loaded resistance exercise has benefits too. Using equipment such as barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells are recommended.

Using additional weight will increase the demand placed on the muscle and lead to a greater calorie burn.

Cardiovascular activities such as running, cycling, and walking, elevate the heart rate and may also contribute towards fat-burning.

Cardio can typically be sustained for longer time periods than resistance exercises. Therefore, the potential for fat burning may be greater.

For fat loss, it is recommended to use strength exercises in cardio-based workouts (3). HIIT and circuit training are two prime examples of this.

Twelve Fat-Burning Exercises You Should Give a Try

The following twelve exercises can be considered effective fat-burning exercises.

Each one utilizes a range of movements and muscles and contributes towards a large calorie burn.

1. Squats

Squat

The squat. One of the most fundamental human movements.

Although the movement primarily activates glute and leg muscles, it is really a full-body exercise. It requires a great degree of upper body activation, core strength, and stability.

There are a range of squatting exercises that cater to a range of abilities and challenge the body in different ways.

For those who have never squatted previously, it is recommended to start with the goblet squat. This involves holding a dumbbell to the chest while squatting.

For those who are more advanced, consider the barbell back and front squat.

(video credit: Barbell Shrugged)

Squat Technique:

  1. Start with feet wider than hip-width and point the toes out
  2. Lift the chest, pull the shoulders back and squeeze the core muscles
  3. Hinge the hips and bend the knees to drop the backside down towards the floor
  4. Push hard through the heels and rise up to standing

2. Clean

The clean is a highly technical lift that requires power, mobility, coordination, and stability.

Practically every muscle of the body is required in order to drive the bar from the floor up to the shoulders.

While the clean has great fat-burning potential, care must be taken. The technique is tricky and it can take time to learn.

For beginners, start with the dumbbell or kettlebell clean. Once the technique is well established, think about progressing onto the barbell clean.

(video credit: Barbell Shrugged)

Clean Technique:

  1. Start feet slightly wider than the hips and toes pointed out
  2. Drop down to the weight and grasp the bar using a grip slightly wider than shoulders
  3. Extend the knees so that weight travels up to mid-thigh
  4. At this point, explosively drive the hips through and pull upwards with the arms
  5. Shoot the elbows through and drop into a squat to catch the weight on the shoulders
  6. Drive through the heels to stand with the weight

3. Snatch

The snatch is the second Olympic lift that has similarities to the clean in terms of movement and muscle activation.

The main differences between the two are the position of the hands on the weight and the end position.

The snatch uses a wide grip whereas the clean grip is typically much narrower.

In the clean, the bar moves from the floor to the shoulders. In the snatch, the bar travels from the floor and ends up directly overhead.

As with the clean, the lift is fairly technical and practice may be required.

If this exercise is new, begin with dumbbell or kettlebell snatch first and progress onto a barbell snatch.

(video credit: Barbell Shrugged)

Snatch Technique:

  1. Start feet slightly wider than the hips and toes pointed out
  2. Drop down to the weight and grasp the bar using a grip much wider than shoulders
  3. Extend the knees so that weight travels up to mid-thigh
  4. At this point, explosively drive the hips through and pull upwards with the arms
  5. Drop into a squat and catch the weight overhead by locking the elbows
  6. Drive through the heels to stand with the weight

4. Thrusters

The thruster is a combination of a front squat and a push press. Therefore, it effectively activates the muscles of the lower and upper body.

The core must stay braced throughout the entirety of the movement. Poor bracing may lead to rounding in the front squat and instability in the overhead position.

Be aware that in order to front squat effectively, the shoulders must be mobile. The elbows must be lifted high so that the bar can comfortably sit on the front of the shoulders.

The dumbbell or kettlebell thruster is an excellent choice for the beginner with the barbell variation being more challenging.

(video credit: Barbell Shrugged)

Thrusters Technique:

  • Start with the weight in a front rack position (bar resting on the front of the shoulders)
  • Lift the chest, drive the elbows high and engage the core muscles
  • Drop into a full squat by hinging the hips and bending the knees
  • Drive up by pushing through the heels
  • As you reach the top of the rep, use the arms and explosively drive the bar overhead
  • Return the bar to the front rack position

5. Lunges

As with the squat, the lunge primarily works the lower body yet requires upper body and core activation.

The exercise can be performed using bodyweight, dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells.

There are also a number of lunging variations, including walking, backstep, forward, and lateral lunges. Each variation has its own set of unique benefits.

Be aware that the lunging position can be quite unstable. Therefore, emphasize core tightness and control with each and every rep.

(video credit: Barbell Shrugged)

Lunge Technique:

  • Place the feet under the hips and keep the toes pointed forwards
  • Drive the chest up, pull the shoulders back and brace the core
  • Take a step forward and bend both knees so that the trailing knee drops to the floor
  • Drive hard through the heel of the leading leg and return to standing

6. Farmer Walk

The farmers walk simply involves lifting a heavy load and carrying it for a specific length.

For building full-body strength, there are few exercises that can compare. The legs drive the body forward, the upper body takes the weight and the core facilitates balance and control.

For this exercise, it is recommended to use heavy dumbbells or kettlebells. During the walk, focus on standing as tall as possible while maintaining a core brace.

Farmers Walk Technique:

  • Start with the feet under the hips, chest up, and core tight
  • Grasp the weight firmly in both hands and stand up tall
  • Taking your time, walk forward while maintaining a high chest and core brace

7. Kettlebell Swings

The kettlebell swing is another superb fat-burning exercise that activates many large posterior muscles such as the glutes and hamstrings.

One of the best things about the swing is that reps are performed quickly. This allows a high number of reps to be performed in a short period of time.

The more reps that can be performed, the greater the potential for fat-burning.

During the swing, focus primarily on the hinging and drive of the hips. It is the drive of the hips that should propel the weight upwards.

Kettlebell Swing Technique:

  • Begin with feet slightly wider than hip-width and toes slightly pointed out
  • Keeping the chest high and core tight, hinge the hips and reach down to the kettlebell
  • Grasp it tightly and pull it back powerfully between the legs
  • Explosively drive through the hips to propel the kettlebell forward and up
  • Utilize momentum while keeping each swing controlled

8. Battle Ropes

Battle Ropes - Best Fat Burning Exercises

The battle ropes are a basic but brilliant piece of equipment.

Simply grab the heavy ropes and get them moving. Perform sets of waves, circles or slams with ropes and the entire body will be on fire.

While the arms and shoulders drive most of these movements, the core and lower body are highly involved too. They engage to keep the body grounded and stable throughout.

For slams, focus on explosive movements of the hips, knees, shoulders, and arms to generate as much power as possible.

Battle Rope Technique:

  • Place the feet under the hips and start with each end of the rope in each hand
  • Lift the chest, pull the shoulders back and squeeze the core muscles
  • Create waves, circles or slams by engaging the shoulder and arm muscle
  • Maintain an upright trunk and aim to avoid any excessive movement

9. Med Ball Slams

Exercises like med ball slams should be reserved for bad days. Not only will they contribute towards significant fat-burning, but they are also highly therapeutic!

The goal during the slam should be to generate as much power as possible. This means using explosive movements through the hips, knees, shoulders, and arms.

Imagine trying to break the floor with each and every slam!

Because the exercise involves maximal contractions of many muscles, a large number of calories will be burned.

Med Ball Slams Technique:

  • Start with the feet slightly wider than the hips
  • Keeping the chest up, bend over, pick up the ball and lift it overhead
  • Drive the hips back rapidly and powerfully throw the ball directly down

10. Box Jumps

Another exercise that involves maximal contractions is the box jump. This time, focus on explosive movements of the lower body to spring up and onto a box.

For those who have never attempted box jumps before, start with a small box and build the height.

The higher the box, the more power required. The more power that is required, the greater the calorie burn!

With that being said, take care with each jump and prioritize safe landings. Never jump backward off the box, instead simply step down.

Box Jumps Technique:

  • Place a box directly in front of the body
  • Ensure that the feet are wider than the hips, the chest is up and core is tight
  • Quickly dip the hips and the knees and explosively jump up and onto the box
  • Land softly and ensure that the knees stay wide on landing
  • Step down off the box rather than jumping backward

11. Skipping Rope

While often associated with playgrounds and boxers, the skipping rope can serve as an excellent fat-burning tool.

Although the exercise appears simple, maintaining skipping for a prolonged time period is extremely challenging.

It is demanding on both physical and mental components. It causes the heart rate to rocket and requires a large amount of precision, coordination, and balance.

Skipping Rope Technique:

  • Start by standing up tall with the handles of the rope in both hands
  • Focus on turning the rope with the wrists (not the elbows or shoulders)
  • Stay light on the feet and keep the feet close together when jumping

12. Burpees

The classic fat-burning exercise that everyone loves to hate. As much as many may hate the exercise, there is no denying that it is simple and effective for fat-burning.

The movement involves performing a squat, push-up and vertical jump in one flowing movement.

Considering the number of movements and muscles worked, the burpee is one of the best fat-burning exercises around.

Burpees Technique:

  • Place the feet under the hips, lift the chest and engage the core
  • Start by hinging the hips and bending the knees and squat down towards the floor
  • Plant the hands on the floor ensuring that wrists stay under the shoulders
  • Shoot the legs out behind the body into a plank position
  • Perform a push-up by hinging the elbows and then jump the feet back in
  • Release the hands from the floor and drive out of the squat and into a vertical jump
  • Land softly and ensure that the knees stay wide

Fat Burning Workouts

Although it’s useful to know these fat-burning exercises, it can become confusing when attempting to incorporate them into a workout.

Therefore, this section will provide three individual workouts that incorporate all twelve fat-burning exercises.

To maximize calorie burning, the following workouts are all in the form of circuit training.

To keep things simple, all of the workouts follow the same structure of four exercises. On completion of an exercise, immediately move onto the next one and restrict rest.

Only once all four exercises have been completed should a one-to-two minute rest then be taken. Once rested, repeat the circuit again and complete three to five sets in total. 

Workout 1

ExerciseVolume
Barbell Back Squat15 reps
Box Jumps15 reps
Dumbbell Farmers Walk50 yards
Battle Rope Waves30-45 seconds

Workout 2

ExerciseVolume
Dumbbell Clean15 reps
Barbell Walking Lunges20 reps
Kettlebell Swings25 reps
Burpees30-45 seconds

Workout 3

ExerciseVolume
Alternating Single Arm Kettlebell Snatch20 reps
Med Ball Overhead Slams20 reps
Barbell Thrusters20 reps
Skipping Rope60 seconds

The Final Word

Performing the above exercises and workouts can certainly assist towards fat-burning. However, remember that both exercise and nutrition play a role in this.

While exercise serves to burn calories, it must be accompanied by good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. It is impossible to out-train a poor diet.

Providing a negative energy balance is established through appropriate exercise and nutrition, a significant amount of fat loss will occur.


References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6003580/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3925973/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25162652

About the author

Legwork Team

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