Many of us exercise to achieve a goal. For many people, the goal is to burn fat. With such a large variety of exercises available, what are THE best exercises that burn fat?
Today’s post will provide 10 of my favourite exercises that, when performed consistently, will help you shed those unwanted pounds.
I am a fitness nut and have been exercising regularly for over 12 years. During this time, I have tried many different activities.
My list of exercises is designed to cater for all levels and capabilities- from the beginners to seasoned fitness freaks!
So keep on reading to find an exercise that is right for you!
What Makes A Good Fat-Burning Exercise?
First, let’s define what constitutes a good fat-burning exercise.
A fat-burning exercise should increase the heart rate. Heart rate is measured as beats per minute (BPM). And a good fat-burning exercise will increase the resting heart BPM by ~60% or more.
For example: if my resting heart rate is 70 BPM, I would aim to increase it to 112+ BPM to gain fat-burning benefits from my workout.
Activating multiple muscle groups is one of the best ways to increase heart rate.
This is because muscle activation increases energy consumption and creates a nutrient demand in the muscle. As a result, the will heart beats faster to supply the new nutrient demand.
So, a good fat-burning exercise will activate multiple muscle groups and increase the heart rate by 60% or more, resulting in calorie expenditure and fat-burning.
Which exercises will do this best?
Top 10 Exercises To Try Today
Here are our top 10 exercises to increase heart rate and burn more calories. The list incorporates exercises suitable for both beginners, hardcore fitness freaks, and those in between.
Remember, fat loss is a long-term process. It requires you to stick to a plan consistently.
So whatever you choose to do, make sure it is enjoyable for you. The more you enjoy doing a particular exercise, the more likely you will stick with it!
So pick an exercise that resonates with you, and begin your journey to burn away the belly fat!
Ready? Let’s go!
Walking is a great activity anyone can do. It activates all the muscle groups in the legs.
The biggest appeal of walking is the convenience. It doesn’t require equipment or a gym membership.
Anyone can incorporate more steps into their daily routine with minimal effort. Walking is also the least strenuous exercise. It’s great for beginners!
Studies show that brisk walking will facilitate weight loss when combined with a calorie-restricted diet. Power walking and uphill climbs will increase the difficulty and burn more calories!
Our tip: Warm up with a 5-minute brisk walk. Move to a power walk when you are ready. Revert back to a brisk walk when you feel your heart rate increase. Repeat. Move your arms with each stride and include incline walks where possible. This will maximise the fat-burning benefits of walking!
Summary: Walking is cheap, convenient, and a great way for beginners to increase their heart rate!
The next step up from walking. Jogging and running are other convenient activities. It also activates all the muscle groups in the leg.
Walking, jogging, and running are simply different variations of the same exercise. A jog is more intense than a walk. And a run is more intense than a jog. Increasing activity intensity will burn more calories!
For reference, a 10-minute jog at 5mph will burn 80 calories in a 125-pound person(3).
Be aware- jogging and running can be high impact on the knees. If you are over 40, overweight, or had knee surgery, please seek a physician’s advice before going on an intense running plan.
Jogging and running are also great for general health. Studies show that running at <6mph for 5-10 minutes a day can significantly reduce cardiovascular disease and overall mortality rate(2).
Our tip: Build up exercise intensity. When you become comfortable with walking regularly, start jogging. When you become comfortable jogging, start running. Gradually increase exercise time from 10 minutes to 15 minutes, to 20 minutes. Do this exercise 3 times a week.
Summary: Jogging and running are more intense variations of walking. But it will burn more calories! Slowly build up your exercise plan to include jogging and running!
Many people love cycling. It’s a fun and effective exercise.
It will work your entire leg, especially the quads, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus. These are the largest muscles in the body and are great for burning calories.
Cycling can be performed indoors and on an exercise bike (home or gym). Or it can be performed outside. I personally love cycling on rural roads and forests!
Studies show regular cycling is extremely beneficial for general health, increased mortality, and mental well-being (4).
A 155-pound person cycling at a moderate 13mph will burn ~298 calories in 30 minutes(5)!
Indoor and outdoor cycling are equally effective. So choose your own personal preference! But be sure to wear a helmet outside.
For those with weak knees, cycling is also a fantastic alternative to running. This is because the bicycle seat bears most of the body weight.
Our tip: Perform a 30-minute cycle 3 times a week. Alternate between moderate and high intensity. Cycling intensity can be changed with cycling speed and high/low gears. Push on a high gear to really feel your legs burn!
Summary: Cycling is a fun exercise that many people of all fitness levels can enjoy. It’s a low-impact activity and a great alternative to running. Burn more calories by cycling in high gear at high speed!
Not everyone has local swimming facilities. But for those who do, swimming is a fun activity which can be enjoyed by all.
Swimming is one of the most effective exercises to burn fat. That is because it’s an all-body aerobic exercise. Strokes aren’t created equal though. Different strokes burn different amounts of calories.
Butterfly and front crawl reign supreme. A 150-pound person will burn ~375 calories in 30 minutes doing these strokes. Breaststroke and backstroke burn slightly fewer calories(6).
Studies have also shown the therapeutic benefits of swimming on mental health and increased longevity(7).
Swimming is the lowest-impact exercise. This is because the entire body weight is supported by water. This makes it great for people who are 40+, pregnant, or severely overweight.
Our tip: Mix it up! Change your stroke style and intensity. Try a vigorous front crawl, and when you get tired, switch to a backstroke. This will push your body and keep things fun. When swimming with a friend, tread water whilst you chat. This will keep your heart rate up. Try to aim for an hour session to burn big calories!
Summary: Swimming is a fun activity that can be enjoyed by people of all fitness levels. It is great for people looking to burn a lot of calories without the impact associated with other exercises.
Time to spice things up a bit!
In most gyms, the rowing machine receives the least attention. But rowing is an intensive workout and guaranteed to torch calories.
Rowing is another all-body exercise. One row motion activates 85% of the total body muscles (8)!
A rowing workout also incorporates strength and endurance. This means you will continue burning calories long after the session ends!
A 30-minute rowing session will burn over 300 calories (depending on intensity). Studies have also associated regular rowing with increased brain power(9).
Our tip: Row with light intensity for 1 minute, then row vigorously for 30 seconds. Repeat. Try 20 minutes total rowing time. Increase the difficulty by decreasing the resting time from 1 minute to 45 seconds, and so forth. This is a guaranteed fat blaster!
Summary: Rowing is a great exercise to increase your strength and cardiovascular endurance. This makes it an extremely effective fat burner. As a bonus, rowing machines are seldom occupied at the gym.
Yoga has gained increasing popularity through the years. It is a well-rounded workout which activates different muscle groups in the body.
Yoga can be performed at the gym, at home, and even outside. Yoga can also be performed by people of all fitness levels.
Yoga is associated with increased general health, mental well-being, strength, stress management, flexibility, and balance. The meditative aspect of yoga can also help with diet control.
A 125-pound person can burn ~120 calories in a half-hour session.
Compared to the other exercises on the list, yoga is a relatively light fat burner. But combined with it’s meditative and mental well-being aspects, yoga can really help people lose weight.
Our tip: Include a 30-minute yoga session in your weekly exercise routine. This can be done at home or at a yoga class. The all-around aspect of yoga will benefit your overall weight loss journey.
Summary: Yoga is a convenient exercise with many physical and mental benefits. It will provide balance to any exercise programme.
7. Circuit Training
Circuit training involves doing one specific exercise for a set amount of time (~60 seconds), before switching immediately to another exercise. Each exercise will target a specific muscle group. A session will cycle between the exercises.
It is a convenient exercise which can be performed at the gym, at home, and outside. Many circuit programmes can be found on Youtube.
Circuit training is excellent at torching a lot of calories in a short duration of time. It works the entire body with limited rest and incorporates strength with cardiovascular endurance. This winning combination is guaranteed to strip fat.
It’s also mentally stimulating. Cycling between different exercises every 60 seconds will keep you engaged!
A 150-pound person can burn over 300 calories in half an hour doing general circuit training.
Another benefit of circuits is that it accommodates all fitness levels. You can perform each exercise with as much or as little intensity within the 60-second timeframe. The higher the intensity, the more fat you will burn!
Our tip: Check out our home circuit training exercises guide and perform at home (try the garden!). To really torch that fat, find ways to incorporate resistance into your exercises. Dumbbell burpees are killer!
Summary: Circuit training is an excellent fat burner. It can be performed by individuals of any fitness level. You get out what you put in!
Kickboxing is a popular exercise used by personal trainers for their clients to shed pounds. And with good reason. It’s another all-body exercise that will build your strength and cardiovascular endurance.
Another major benefit of kickboxing is core strengthening. Every punch thrown requires significant core activation. Core stability will translate into better balance and posture. Everyday activities will also be easier to do.
Kickboxing can be done in a class or at home. Gloves, pads, and/or a punching bag are recommended for a safe workout. But it can be one of the funniest and most engaging workouts.
A 125-pound person can burn over 300 calories in 30 minutes of kickboxing(13).
Other benefits of kickboxing include stress relief, improved mental well-being, and increased confidence.
Our tip: Join a gym class or buy home kickboxing equipment. Invite a friend over and have fun whilst burning fat. Try one minute of punch/kick combinations followed by one-minute rest. When resting, hold the pads for your friend. You will find that holding the pads alone can be very tiring!
Summary: Kickboxing is an extremely fun and efficient way to burn fat. It’s also an excellent exercise to do with a friend!
9. Weight Lifting
Lifting weights is a form of resistance training, and another favourite exercise employed by personal trainers.
A well-planned weight lifting programme will hit all muscle groups throughout the week.
Weight lifting is one of the most effective fat burners. Numerous studies have shown weight training to be more efficient at burning fat than steady-state cardio(14).
The number of calories burnt varies greatly between individuals. Lifting heavier weight-loads will consume more calories. Those who have a larger muscle ratio will also consume more calories.
An intense half-hour session can burn anywhere between 100-300 calories. Calories are also steadily consumed for up to 48 hours after a weight training session. This is known as the afterburn effect(16).
Other benefits of weight lifting include stress relief, improved posture, and increased confidence.
Contrary to popular belief, weight training alone will not lead to a bulky physique. Building significant muscle mass requires heavy lifting combined with a large caloric surplus.
For a beginner-friendly introduction to burning fat with weights, check out our lifting weights to burn fat guide.
Our tip: Gym membership will provide access to all the equipment required to maximise the fat-burning benefits of a weight-lifting programme. If you aren’t ready for gym membership, home weights can be purchased on Amazon. Aim to do 3-6 sets of 8 reps for each exercise. Target different muscle groups in each session.
Summary: Weight training is an industry-vouched method for rapid fat burning. The right programme will provide awesome results!
10. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, does not refer to a specific exercise. Rather, it is a methodology which can be applied to many different types of exercises.
HIIT involves alternating between very intense bursts of activity and rest periods.
Some of the exercises in this top 10 list are naturally HIIT workouts (circuits and kickboxing). But the HIIT principle can be applied to almost any exercise you enjoy doing.
HIIT will quickly ramp up your heart rate. It is excellent at burning large calorie amounts in a short period of time. The major downside? It’s also extremely hard work!
Studies suggest that intense HIIT workouts can burn as much as 450 calories in half an hour(17). Expect a lot of panting and sweating!
Our tip: Choose a cardio exercise you enjoy doing. Instead of performing this exercise in a steady-state manner, apply the HIIT principle. For example, if you enjoy running: lightly jog for 1 minute followed by a 30-second intense sprint (and I mean SPRINT). Repeat for 15 minutes. You should feel your heart rate skyrocket!
Summary: HIIT is arguably the best fat burner, with the most calories burnt per period of time. But it is very intense. Not many people will enjoy it!
There we have it!
Today’s post provides 10 of the best exercises that burn fat. Find one that resonates with your personal lifestyle, and begin your journey to shed pounds today!
Remember, exercising is half the battle with fat loss. It needs to be combined with an effective diet plan for maximal results.
For more information on dieting, check out our guide on the best diet to burn fat.
Which of our top 10 exercises will you be trying?
Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions! You can find my details on the “contact us” page.
You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printable worksheets) I used to go from skinny to ripped!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)