Fat Burning Series: Essential Exercises for Weight Loss

By David Sautter

Fat loss on paper is simple: burn more calories than you eat every day. What sounds easy can quickly become overwhelming as you realize there are dozens of exercises per body part to choose from. One of the three pillars of weight loss, exercise, can help to burn excess calories, placing you into that necessary caloric deficit to trigger fat burning.

Let’s take a look at the best exercises for weight loss and the training methodology to follow to maximize caloric expenditure. 

Compound Exercises for Weight Loss

When you want to maximize the number of calories you burn each day, you need exercises that utilize the greatest number of muscle groups. Compound exercises require several muscle groups to work together to execute the movement. As a response, you’ll be burning more calories than you would during an isolation movement.

Compare the squat with the leg extension. Sure, both work the legs, but the squat demands a lot from your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and core. Leg extensions only focus on the quadriceps. Which one do you think burns more calories?

Ten of the best compound exercises you can start with include the following:

  • Squats
  • Romanian Deadlifts
  • Bench press
  • Push-ups
  • Barbell Rows
  • Pull-ups
  • Standing Military Press
  • Plank
  • Superman
  • Burpees

Now that you have your exercises, you’ll need to learn the best way to use them to maximize fat loss.

Change Up the Intensity 

Both weight training and high-intensity cardiovascular training have been shown to be effective at supporting weight loss.

Weight training with compound movements can help to improve muscle connectivity and the working relationship between the upper and lower body. Cardiovascular workouts can improve your endurance, strengthen your heart and lungs, and lower your risk for disease.

Most workout programs separate weight training from cardiovascular workouts, leaving cardio for resting days or the weekend. In order to maximize your fat loss, I would recommend performing a workout that combines both weight-based compound exercises with high-intensity, bodyweight-based cardio exercises.

You’ll be strengthening your muscles and developing lean mass while safely elevating your heart rate into a fat-burning zone. This type of workout will also boost your excess post oxygen consumptions (EPOC) levels, allowing your body to burn even more calories long after you leave the gym.

Hybrid Weight Loss Workout

For beginners, I would recommend performing the following workout three days per week (e.g., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). If you have previous experience with similar workouts, you can add a fourth day (e.g., Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday).

The workout will be based on the training methodology of supersets. This is where you will complete one exercise (A) and immediately perform another exercise (B). Only after you’ve completed the second exercise (B) should you take a break of no more than two minutes. Once your break is finished, return to the first exercise. When you’re finished with all three sets, move on to the next pairing of exercises.

We’ll be combining opposing muscle groups so that you can safely perform the secondary exercise without worrying about burnout.

  • A: Barbell Squats: 3 x 12 to 15 repetitions
  • B: Push-ups: 3 x Failure (Do as many as you can with perfect form)
  • A: Romanian Deadlifts: 3 x 12 to 15 repetitions
  • B: Pull-ups: 3 x Failure 
  • A: Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 x 12 to 15 repetitions
  • B: Superman: 3 x Failure
  • A: Barbell Rows: 3 x 12 to 15 repetitions
  • B: Plank: 3 x Failure
  • A: Standing Military Press: 3 x 12 to 15 repetitions
  • B: Burpees: 3 x Failure 

Starting the Workout? Keep Us Updated!

If you’re starting this workout, be sure to let us know how it’s going or if you have any questions. Don’t be afraid to show off your results by submitting before and after pictures.

It’s important to remember that nutrition is the second pillar to fat loss. Check out my next article on the best meals to trigger fat burning.

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