Surprisingly and contrary to popular belief, not all exercises are ideal for weight loss. Staying physically active is key to maintaining good overall health, but doesn’t always necessarily lead to fat loss — especially if you overtrain, use poor form, or become injured. We’ve gathered some tips for the best–and worst–exercises for fat loss.
Weight-loss and fitness experts say that the secret to losing fat is to practice a fitness routine that combines cardio exercise with strength training. Together, these two types of exercise can help you build endurance and muscle mass so you can start shedding those excess pounds.
Have you recently hit a weight-loss plateau, or need help developing a sound fitness routine that helps you lose weight? Check out the following best and worst exercises for fat loss to get back on track!
Best exercises for fat loss
- Strength training. Strength-training exercises help you build muscle and increase your resting metabolic rate — meaning you’ll continue to burn calories for up to several hours following your workout. Start lifting weights or practice a series of body-weight exercises to build lean muscle and lose fat.
- High-intensity interval training. This exercise known as HIIT is marked by periods of hard work followed by brief periods of rest. HIIT workouts allow you to burn up to 15 percent more calories than most other workouts by helping you achieve a higher resting metabolic rate. HIIT workouts can include a combination of cardio and body-weight exercises such as sprinting, push-ups, and jumping.
- Strength-based circuit training. This exercise produces muscle-building and weight-loss effects similar to that of HIIT, but strictly involves strength-training movements. With strength-based circuits, you can focus more on practicing good form and building muscle while losing fat at the same time.
- Boot camp. This military-style training exercise works every major muscle group and conditions your body from both an aerobic and strength standpoint. Join a boot camp exercise program in your neighborhood and benefit from increased muscle mass and fat loss.
Worst exercises for fat loss
- Long cardio sessions. If you’ve ever spent time in a gym locker room, chances are you’re familiar with the oft-ridiculed Cardio Queen, or someone who spends at least an hour doing cardio exercise without breaking a sweat. Long cardio sessions are often counterproductive, and can lead to muscle loss instead of fat loss — especially in those with no existing strength-training routines. Limit your cardio sessions to 30 minutes for the best fat-burning results.
- Spot reduction exercises. Spot-focused exercises like abdominal crunches may target your muscles, but won’t target the fat covering your muscles. Good nutrition, cardio exercise, and strength training must be combined and practiced on an ongoing basis to eliminate excess fat.
- CrossFit. This high-intensity exercise program involves advanced movements and activities that are often too intense for those at low or average fitness levels. CrossFit is ideal for those who are already fit, highly active, and athletic, but can lead to injuries and setbacks in those who are less conditioned and focused more on weight loss.
- Pilates. This exercise helps you achieve deeper relaxation and improved flexibility, but is not as effective for fat loss. Pilates can help sculpt your body and change your shape, but not all Pilates movements can help you lose fat.
Need help reaching your weight-loss goals? Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers offer personalized weight-loss plans customized for your goals and lifestyle. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on November 27, 2017