10 Best Fat-Burning Exercises to Lose Weight (2024 Updated)

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: January 25, 2024
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One of the biggest reasons people see disappointing results from their weight loss efforts is that they don’t complement healthy eating and nutrition with exercise.

Of course, cutting back on carbs in the food you eat is crucial to any good weight loss plan, but you also need to burn off the calories you’ve been carrying around on your gut, butt and elsewhere.

Exercise will help build lean muscle and give form to your new body.

It will also help keep the weight off once you’ve met your targets.

So make the following exercises part of your nutrition and weight reduction plan and get the results you’ve been hoping for.

Quick Summary

  • To effectively lose weight, combine a healthy diet with a variety of exercises including strength training, HIIT, and aerobic activities.
  • Incorporating exercises such as strength training, HIIT, kickboxing, running, and cycling can significantly enhance weight loss efforts.
  • An average-sized individual can burn approximately 500 calories per hour through strength training exercises like squats and curls.
  • In my opinion, consistently blending diverse exercises into a weight loss plan not only aids in shedding pounds but also keeps the fitness journey engaging and sustainable.

10 Top Exercises To Lose Weight

1. Strength Training

woman doing a squat exercise

Many people focus solely on cardio for weight loss, often using treadmills or joining aerobic classes.

However, my experience as a personal trainer has shown that incorporating weight training can significantly boost fat loss.

This method goes beyond just building muscle; it's about enhancing overall body composition. For instance, an average person can burn around 500 calories per hour with exercises like squats and curls.

Importantly, the benefits extend beyond the gym - post-workout, the body continues to burn fat while repairing and building muscles, thanks to the activity of amino acids.

Pro tip: If you really want to max out your strength training/weight loss efforts try Tabata workouts.

Tabata training (named after Dr. Izumi Tabata) calls for 20 seconds of flat out effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest.

Then another 20 seconds of effort and 10 seconds of rest, for a total of 4 minutes.

Related: Best Tabata Workouts for Endurance

2. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT's popularity stems from its intense bursts of exercise followed by brief rest periods, typically lasting 20 to 40 minutes as shown by Self.com [1].

This approach differs from Tabata training, which strictly follows a 20/10 second pattern for 4 minutes.

In my coaching experience, HIIT's flexibility in interval duration, such as 90/20 seconds for up to 40 minutes, appeals to a broader range of clients. On average, HIIT can burn approximately 200 calories every 20 minutes.

Moreover, integrating adequate sleep into a fitness regimen can significantly amplify HIIT's fat-burning effects, as a well-rested body performs more efficiently and recovers quicker.

You can read more about HIIT here.

3. Kickboxing or Boxing

Any type of boxing is great for toning, improving coordination and losing weight. It’s a true full-body workout that engages parts of your body you may have forgot you had. According to WebMD, kickboxing is particularly effective at calorie-burning and helping to turn your 1 pack into a 6 pack [2].

Someone who weighs 180 pounds can expect to burn about 850 calories during an hour of kickboxing.

Pro tip: Meditating before your boxing sessions is one of the best ways to improve focus and reaction times. You’ll likely become a far better boxer and enjoy a wider range of benefits from your workouts if you center yourself before you enter the gym.

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4. Jump Rope

Woman doing a jump rope

A jump rope can fit into a daypack, weighs about a pound, costs about as much as a T-shirt and can be used by practically anyone to help shed weight.

There’s a reason boxers jump rope while training for big fights. It helps build stamina and lean muscle, improves coordination and melts fat like crazy. The jump rope typically burns about 10 calories per minute.

Which means that if you just jump twice a day for 10 minutes at a time, you’ll melt away about 200 calories per day. Besides losing weight, jumping rope is also great for toning your butt, legs and gut and strengthening cardio.

Pro tip: To lose weight and tone more effectively it’s best to alternate your feet as you jump. Go from landing with both feet to just the right foot, to just the left foot to the right foot to the left foot to both fee and so on. Not just both feet the entire time.

5. Running (Moderate Pace)

man running

If you have a decent pair of sneakers you can start running.

Running is one of the most effective exercises for promoting fat loss and keeping weight off, as per Runner's World [3].

You can do it any day of the year any time of the day and both alone or with other people. As a general rule the more you weigh the more you’ll burn while running.

It's also crucial to note that consistent running helps in maintaining your weight loss over time, preventing the yo-yo effect often seen after achieving weight loss goals

So a 140 pound runner moving along at a moderate pace may burn 300+ calories over 30 minutes. While for a 180 pounder also running at a moderate pace it may be more than 400.

Pro tip: A University of Glasgow study showed that exercising prior to breakfast generated greater weight loss and significantly lower levels of adipose in the blood. So hit the road before hitting the breakfast table.

6. Rowing

The rowing machine excels in muscle growth, endurance training, and weight loss.

It not only aids in fat burning but also boosts your metabolic rate, leading to continued calorie burn even during sedentary activities.

For example, a 150-pound individual can burn around 250 calories in 30 minutes at moderate intensity (setting 5 out of 10).

Increasing the intensity to the maximum (setting 10), the calorie burn can exceed 300 calories in the same duration.

You can buy the best rowing machine here or the best budget rowing machine here.

Or maybe you are strictly looking for a magnetic rowing machine.

Pro tip: When you drive your legs into the heel rest on each stroke you force the muscles in your lower body to work harder and burn more fat. So make sure you’re using your whole body to row, not just your arms and shoulders.

7. Crossfit

crossfit

Crossfit workouts, which I often recommend as a personal trainer, are brief yet intense, engaging the whole body through varied exercises.

A typical Workout of the Day (WOD) might include weight training, kettlebell swings, burpees, box jumps, and other activities like rope climbing and squats.

These routines are designed to enhance strength and endurance. While the specific fat loss from Crossfit varies due to daily routine changes, on average, a person burns around 12 calories per minute.

Incorporating slam ball exercises can further boost strength and calorie burning.

Pro tip: Crossfit workouts can be super intense and really help in gaining muscle. But if you’re in pain or feel something is just not right with some part of your body, put down the weights and talk to your Crossfit coach. They don’t give awards for “Most willing to endure injury”.

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8. Sprinting

People Jogging

When people think of running to shed excess weight they normally think of jogging.

But sprinting can be a great way to shed the fat and build up your legs.

Studies have shown that just 2 1/2 minutes of these types of high-intensity workouts can melt off as many as 200 calories. While some trainers contend you can burn as many as 50 calories for every flat-out 100 meter sprint you run.

Pro tip: To increase calories burned, make sure to kick your knees up while you run. The goal should be to get your thigh parallel to the running surface at the top of your stride. The greater your level of physical engagement the more you’ll burn.

9. Swimming

people swimming

Swimming is one of the best low-impact ways known to burn calories and build muscle. Swimming is great for weight loss because it utilizes most of your muscles and is excellent cardio training because your heart and lungs have to work hard to supply all those muscles with blood and oxygen, as shown by Medical News Today [4].

The number of calories you burn swimming will depend in large part on how hard and how long you swim.

On average, a 130 pound swimmer will burn around 600 calories an hour swimming hard and 400 swimming slow. While for a 180 pound swimmer the numbers will be more like 800 per hour swimming fast and 550 swimming slow.

Optimize your workout by getting a fitness tracker for swimming or reading about the workout routine of Olympic champion, Michael Phelps.

Pro tip: If you want to ramp up the number of calories you burn while swimming, get some equipment involved. Flippers for instance, do a great job of elevating the heart rate. They also stimulate muscle activation all the way from your toes to your torso.

10. Cycling

man cycling

Cycling itself won’t help you add kilos of bristling muscle mass, but it is another low-impact form of exercise that is ideal for helping you shed weight and keep it off.

It’s easy on your joints, you can do it alone or in a group (like running) and you can even do it indoors on the stationary bike. A 140 pound cyclist going 15-20 mph for an hour will consume on average about 750 calories.

If that person were to ramp up the average speed to more than 20 mph they could potentially burn just over 1,000. The trick to losing weight and gaining muscle cycling is to keep pedaling and keep the heart rate up.

How does doing boxing and cycling at the same time sound? Fun right? Check out the Lifespan Boxing Bicycle then.

Still looking for more ways to burn fat? Check out our article on the best calorie burning exercises.

Pro tip: If you need a bit of motivation to keep your legs pumping while you’re on the bike try listening to music. Music produces what’s known as the “rhythm response” which is a natural tendency to sync our physical movements with the beat.

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Other Training Tips To Consider

While the workout you come up with will likely vary considerably based on your own preferences, needs, and goals, there are some general guidelines that you’ll want to follow.

If you put these into place, you can feel more confident that you are stepping forward on the right foot.

  • Rest Days - Rest is key! Without rest, your body will not recover and grow back stronger than it was before. It’s rest that allows you to make progress. Everyone should take at least one day off for rest and recovery each week. Some people may need two days off, and others may even need three.
  • Combine Resistance Training & Cardio - To form a well-rounded workout program, you’ll want to include both resistance training as well as cardiovascular exercise. This gives you the benefits of both worlds and helps you achieve the highest level of fitness.
  • Always Focus On Form First - Don’t ever let your form slip while doing your exercise training. If you move out of good form due to fatigue, stop and rest until you can continue using the right form. If you aren’t sure how to use proper form in any given exercise, get help from a trained professional. Most gyms have staff who can assist with this.
  • Regulate Your Breathing - Breathing during your workout is a must, but many people hold their breath. This is especially the case with weight lifting workouts. Keep your breathing regulated and you’ll have more energy and a greater overall strength output.
  • Warm Up Every Time - Your warm-up is key to preventing injuries, getting your body ready to perform optimally, and for getting your head in the zone. Take 5-10 minutes and perform some light cardio exercises, some arm and leg swings, and some gentle range of movement stretches.
  • Eat Well Beforehand - before any higher-intensity session, it’s important to have the right fuel in your body. You’ll want to be giving your body a combination of lean protein along with complex carbohydrates, eating this about 90-120 minutes before your workout session beginning.

To achieve your weight loss goals, you should also consider adding one of the high-quality fat burners we tested to your supplement stack.

FAQs

Does Stretching Burn Fat?

Stretching alone does not burn a significant amount of fat. While stretching can improve flexibility and help with overall health and mobility, it does not contribute significantly to calorie burning or fat loss.

Will Planking Burn Belly Fat?

Planking alone will not burn belly fat although it is an excellent exercise for strengthening the core muscles. To reduce belly fat, a combination of cardiovascular exercises, such as running or cycling, along with a balanced diet, is more effective.

References:

  1. https://www.self.com/story/what-is-high-intensity-interval-training-benefits
  2. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/kickboxing-benefits
  3. https://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/a25646745/running-for-weight-loss/
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321496
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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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One thought on “The Best Exercises for Weight Loss
Serious Calorie-Burning Workouts

  1. Hey man, thanks for this article. The current physical activity I’m into is running. Guess I have to add another weight loss exercise to burn more calories.

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