Top 10 Fat Burning Exercises

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Overweight woman looking in the mirror while holding a measuring tape around her waist. The caption says "Top 10 Fat Burning Exercises."

As summer approaches, most of us are on a mission to find ways to lose a few pounds that have found a new home on our hips, stomach, and buttocks. We stop having that extra slice of pizza, politely refuse dessert at a restaurant, and start parking further away from a store’s entrance to incorporate a little walking into our daily routine.

All these changes do in fact help towards weight loss, but what we all really need (and want) to know is what is the top 10 fat burning exercises that will target our flabby areas? The good news is that most of the top 10 fat burning and weight loss exercises do not require much equipment or preparation.

1. Total Body Circuits With Weights

Oftentimes people will go to a gym and workout one body part per day. For example, “I’m lifting chest today”, which is what 95% of the men at the gym will say if asked what they are working on. To promote hypertrophy, or increase in muscle size, one body part per day is acceptable. However, if your goal is to burn fat, total body circuits are the way to go. An example is to start with a shoulder exercise, then move to a body part that is “far away” like thighs (or quadriceps), and keep switching from an upper body movement to a lower body movement. This keeps your body guessing, which helps burn the most calories and therefore, the most fat while preserving muscle mass in order to give you that lean, toned look.

2. Jump Rope Intervals

Remember how easy it was when you were a kid? Try again. 😉

Jump roping is a somewhat easy, total body workout that requires very little equipment. However, jump roping for very long is not the easiest of activities and most of us would collapse after 3 or 4 minutes. A more sustainable approach is jump rope intervals, where you would jump rope for one minute and then rest for one minute. Start with ten minutes of jump roping with one minute rest in between to give you a 20-minute workout. As you improve, add an additional 2 minutes of jumping until you reach a total of 30 minutes jumping.

Fit woman using a jump rope in a park.

3. HIIT Training

HIIT, or better known as High-Intensity Interval Training, is the most efficient way to get rid of stubborn body fat in the quickest period of time. This type of training involves training for a short period of time at a very high intensity and then resting for a short period of time. HIIT can be done in the gym with weights or during cardio like on stairs, running, or even elliptical machine.

4. Treadmill With an Incline

Walking, whether it be outdoors, indoors, or on a treadmill, is an excellent low-intensity fat-burning exercise that can be done nearly anywhere. To increase walking’s fat-burning abilities, walk on an incline or along a hilly walking route outdoors. An example of an excellent fat-burning treadmill routine would be to start walking with no incline and then gradually add 1% or 2% incline after every 3 minutes until you have reached the maximum incline allowed on the treadmill. Then decrease the incline by 2% or 3% every minute.

5. Spinning

If you’re running after time. Quick high intensity spinning classes are perfect.

If you prefer to be in a group while exercising, try a spinning class. Spinning classes are high-energy, high-intensity, and usually lots of fun which is a perfect mix for burning fat. You control your own speed and resistance, so if the instructor is working at a much higher intensity than you are comfortable working at, you have the option of lowering your intensity. You will walk away dripping in sweat, but you get what you put into it. If you put enough effort into it, your legs will be aching the next day.

A group of people exercising on stationery bikes in a gym.

6. CrossFit Classes

CrossFit is an intense strength and conditioning program that combines a variety of exercises to increase lean muscle mass while decreasing body fat. These classes incorporate Olympic lifts, cardiovascular exercises, and strength movements. You will see greater results in a CrossFit class as with cardio or weight training alone.

7. Rowing

Although rowing requires a rowing machine, it burns more calories per hour as compared to running, spinning, or the elliptical. Rowing is an excellent total body exercise that is higher intensity than walking, but less impact on the knees as compared to running. If you are a beginner, try just a few minutes and add a minute to each consecutive session until you reach 30 minutes.

8. Swimming

Swimming is another total body workout that is very low impact and easy on the joints. Swimming burns around 600 calories per hour, which makes it a great fat-burning exercise. We are not talking about the “swimming” that most of us do in a pool during the summer, but actually swimming laps with minimal rests will give you the most fat-burning benefits of swimming.

A man doing butterfly strokes in a swimming pool.

9. Stairs

Normal stairs work just as well. Just forget the lift.

The StairMaster (sometimes called a stepper or stepmill) is known to many as the toughest machine in the gym, will get you in swimsuit-shape faster than any other activity. The StairMaster, is similar to a treadmill in that it has a moving belt. However, there are stairs that continuously keep moving (almost like an escalator) and you need to keep climbing towards the top. If you slack off, you will most likely fall on your face or end up on the floor.

10. Cardio Circuit

We all know that cardio is great for burning fat. How can you jumpstart cardio’s fat-burning abilities to burn even more fat? The answer is with a cardio circuit. A cardio circuit is when you use more than one cardio machine. For example, 10 minutes with your maximal effort on the treadmill, then 10 minutes maximal effort on the bike, and ending with 10 minutes 80% effort on the rowing machine. This is a tough circuit and should not be done by those who do not like to sweat.

Exercises You Can Do in Your Own Home

For some of us, the idea of walking into a gym can be quite intimidating. Here are some quick fat-burning exercises for home.

1. Planks

Planks will target your abs better than any amount of crunches. A “plank” is an isometric exercise that involves holding yourself up on your toe and forearms for an extended period of time. Planks are great because they do not require any equipment and can be done anywhere, including a hotel room while traveling. A beginner could start with 10 seconds, rest, and then try again. Your goal should be 1 minute without resting.

2. Squats

Squats are a great fat burning exercise you can perform anywhere. Do them at least once a week.

When performed properly, squats are a great lower body exercise. Squats should be performed with feet placed shoulder-width apart, arms stretched out in front, while you “sit” in an invisible chair. As you stand back up, squeeze your buttocks to assist with the movement. Everyone, including men and women should squat at least once per week. It will help tone your buttocks, hamstrings, and quadriceps.

A roup of people doing squats in a park.

3. Walking

Whether on a treadmill or outdoors in your neighborhood, be sure to walk for at least 30 minutes and pick a hilly route (or add incline) when possible to increase heart rate and burn even more fat.

4. Bodyweight Circuits

There are plenty of exercises that can be performed without equipment and will give you much more of a fat-burning effect than just riding a bike for 30 minutes. Some of these include push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, burpees, and mountain climbers. When combined in a fast-paced circuit for 20-30 minutes, it will melt the pounds off fast.

As valuable as effective exercise is, it’s also important to consider the type of foods you’re eating and the effect they are having on your body. See the article on Cutting Carbs to Lose Weight for more details on how to really speed up weight loss.

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