Have you ever had to change a top that you’ve just put on, because it makes your belly look to fat? If you’ve answered yes then you’re not alone.
I know this feeling too, and it takes a lot of work to change your physique to something you can be proud of.
It’s a shameful feeling, and one that probably makes you feel like you’re older than you are. In fact, it probably makes you feel like crap. At least that’s how I felt.
Do you want to change that feeling? Do you want to look and feel better?
Well, I am here to help. At various points in my life, I have needed to lose weight and have found several different things that work. I am going to share the things that I have done that have worked for me, as well as include things that are backed by science.
Let’s jump straight in and answer the question that you’re interested in.
WHAT ARE THE BEST FAT BURNING EXERCISES?
The best fat burning exercises are always going to be exercises that use as many different muscle groups as possible. The more muscles used at one time for an exercise, the more calories you are going to use.
Also, if the exercise uses bigger muscle groups like the chest, back, bum or legs it will burn more calories, compared to using small muscles like the biceps or shoulders.
Movements or exercises that use more muscle groups are called compound exercises. An example of a compound exercise would be rowing because you are using your legs, back, arms and abdominal muscles during each stroke.
Rowing is an example of a compound exercise for cardio-vascular training. However, there are also exercises that use body weight, or weights that are also compound exercises.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW THE BEST FAT BURNING EXERCISES?
If I only had a limited time to do a workout, my attitude would be to go hard, or go home. As someone who is busy you may only have 5-30 minutes to exercise. So in that short period of time, you need to maximise the amount of calories that you are going to burn.
It has been shown that you can burn up 2-3 times the amount of energy doing compound weight training exercises, compared to isolated exercises (single muscle groups) (1).
In the long run this is going to save you time, and improve the amount of weight that you are going to lose.
5 OF THE BEST TYPES OF FAT BURNING EXERCISE
When I was 17, my boxing my coach advised me to run 3-4 times a week to boost stamina.
I wasn’t running to lose weight, but I noticed that in combination with the boxing training that I could eat whatever I liked and not put on weight because I was burning so many calories.
Also, my fitness levels went through the roof for boxing. This is one of the reasons I recommend it so highly.
If you are starting running for the first time you should start with the run walk method, which is where you run for 30 seconds and then walk for 30 seconds or till you feel you are ready to run again (2). Build up to 3o minutes.
Once you have mastered this you may want to try something more challenging. Here are some examples of some of the runs I used to do for major calorie burning:
a) Short sprints
An exercise is going to be a major fat burner when your calorie expenditure is high. Your calorie expenditure is going to be high when your heart rate is high during exercise. The closer you can get your heart rate to the maximum number of times it can beat per minute, the higher the calorie expenditure will be.
Sprint training is perfect for this. Have you ever had to run for a train or bus, or had to hurry as quickly as you can and got out of breath quickly? This is an example of how short sprints should feel.
Here’s how to do it.
- Jog in the park for 30 seconds to a minute
- Choose two trees at random and when you get to that tree run as fast as you can until you get to the next tree (this run may take between 10-20 seconds)..
- Rest for up to 1 minute – Repeat the same steps again.
- Try to aim for 4-10 sets
Warning – If you are a complete beginner to running or exercise you may want to start easy by doing some light jogging and building up to this level of intensity.
b) Hill runs
According to coach Lisa Leven, hill tuns can build strength in the legs (3). It is also good for recruiting extra muscles in the legs.
As the legs are the biggest muscles in the body and the difficulty involved in running up hills you can be sure you are going to burn a lot of calories.
Even though this type of training is used by hard core runners, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use it to burn fat. I’ve used it in my own training, and with clients and its nackering!!!
Here are some examples of hill running workouts (4)
I have done a lot of interval workouts on treadmills, although this can also be done outside as well. This is very similar to doing short sprints. However, this is a lot more structured.
Going back to the concept of the higher your heart rate is the more calories you are going to burn, I want you to think back to the example of when you ran for a train?
How long did you sustain that intensity for? 10-30 seconds perhaps? The point is that although you are going to burn a lot of calories, you can’t sustain the intensity for very long.
However, if you work at a high intensity and then rest, you can spend a longer time working at a higher intensity due to the periods of recovery.
This means that you can burn more calories at that higher intensity repeatedly until you fatigue.
Also, during the period of time that you are resting you’re also burning calories. This is because your body is breaking down fuel from other parts of the body and returning it to the muscles that have just worked.
Here is an example of a interval workout:
- Run for 60 seconds at a high intensity (if you have a heart rate monitor train at 80% of maximum heart rate (5)
- Rest for 60 seconds by walking or standing still
- Repeat 5- 10 times
2) BODY WEIGHT EXERCISES
I think that body weight exercises are one of the best ways to gauge your fitness levels. If you are not able to do body weight exercises, it’s usually a sign that you are too heavy.
Here are some of the best exercises for burning fat that use your body weight:
This is a great exercise for two reasons. The first one is that you are using your legs, so you are burning a lot of calories. The second is that it is performed fast and explosively, so it gets your heart rate up.
B) Press ups
This is a great exercise to work on your power to weight ratio and to gauge your fitness.
According to top end sport, who have recorded data for various fitness tests and provide normative data.
If you are doing less then 10 press ups you are below average (6). Here is how to do a press up:
C) Squat thrusts
This is another great exercise that uses the legs, and an exercise that I have always hated doing, but love the benefits. Even though I say I hate doing it, I don’t want to put you off. This is something that you can do and it will benefit you.
Cycling is one of the best ways to burn calories. I have owned a bike in the past and have used it to lose weight successfully.
I lost over a stone and a half (10 kilos) in 3 months in my mid 20’s when I took a break from working in the fitness industry.
This was after I had finished boxing. I had been working as a swimming teacher and football coach for a few years and didn’t find time to go to the gym and put on a lot of weight.
Here are a few ways you can use cycling to lose weight:
- Cycle to work
- Cycle around the park
- Do spin classes (it will involve joining the gym)
- Join a cycling club or triathlon club (build some fitness by doing 1 and 2 first)
4) WEIGHT TRAINING
I have achieved the best weight loss results for myself and the men I train using weight training.
You may read that cardio training is the best for weight loss, and this is heavily supported in the scientific literature (6 , 7, 8) but lets define what cardio is.
Cardiovascular training is when you elevate your heart rate, above your resting levels and into your training zone ( 9, 10)
I promise you that if you do an exercise like a dead lift your heart rate will go up into your training zone. By this definition you can use weight training as a form of cardiovascular training.
I have used some advanced techniques of weight training to get major results (link to transformation page) in the past, so I promise you that weight training works.
Also the increase in muscle mass will speed up your metabolism and has other health benefits like (11, 12, 13).
- Increasing bone density
- Addressing muscle imbalances
- Increasing muscle tone
- Improving physical appearance
- Improving strength
- Increasing muscle size of chest, arms and other muscles.
For weight training it is best to get supervision from a trainer in the gym or online (link to online PT page) or to watch your form in the mirror. Here are three great exercises:
Even though I am a qualified swimming teacher, I do not have a competitive background in swimming. However, it is something I have used to improve my fitness over the years.
You only have to look at the physique of a world class swimmer to know that it is great for building the chest, back, arm and shoulder muscles.
It improves your cardiovascular system, and places greater effort on your heart due to the horizontal position you’re in, in the water (14).
Also, the fact that you are in the water also means that your joints are supported, which greatly reduces your injury risk.
The only downside is that it is a lot more technical then running or cycling. It has been found that the greater the proficiency of your technique, the greater the energy expenditure and calories burned (15), so if you do not have good technique, you wont be maximising your calorie expenditure.
I would recommend that you work up to swimming continuously for 30 minutes. However, as technique is so important for the results you get, use the workouts from this video for best results.
In summary, the best fat burning exercises are running, body weight exercises, cycling, weight training and swimming.
Try a combination of as many of these forms of exercises as you can till you find the one that is best for you. Remember to start slowly.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. It will take time to get the body that you want, so make sure that you are in it for the long term and not after a quick fix.
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