Whether you’re male or female, young or old, everyone would ideally like to shed a little excess fat from their body – whether it’s for overall health benefits, a slim and toned physique, or both.
Individually we’re all different and we carry fat in different areas of our body. For some it may be their hips and thighs, others around their face and neck, or the belly area. The thing about fat loss is we can’t really target the area we want to lose it from – rather we need to take a whole body approach when it comes to shedding the pounds.
So when it comes to how to burn fat fast with exercise, there are a couple of things we need to take into consideration first before we put on our fitness gear and start sweating it out in the gym.
Let’s cover those briefly first, before we move on.
A Few Things To Consider First…
I’ve written before about the importance of nutrition when building muscle or losing fat, and how, with the latter, you cannot burn fat with just exercise alone – especially if you’re eating a poor, high-calorie diet. You need to be consuming fewer calories through food than your body will burn before it will tap into its body fat stores for energy. Of course, you could continue to eat what you wanted and exercise for several hours a day to burn it off – but who’s got the time, or energy, to spend half their day in the gym? Also you’ll most likely just be left spinning your wheels with little to no visible difference in the way you look or any difference on the scales to justify all that physical hard work you’re putting in.
So start by reducing your calories and try to ensure at least 80% or your diet is nutritious whole foods. I’ve written more about what good nutrition looks like and some of the best foods to optimise your body for burning fat in previous articles, so make sure you take a look!
According to a study carried out in 2010, sleep loss can reduce the benefit of dieting, thus limiting the amount of fat you can burn. When the dieters in the study got a full night’s sleep, over half the weight they lost was fat, but when they reduced their sleep their fat loss also reduced by over 25%. Also, if you’re sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to feel hungrier during the day due to higher levels of the hunger hormone ‘Ghrelin’ which not only makes you crave food, but reduces energy expenditure. Overall, a lack of sleep in the test subjects saw fat loss reduced by 55%.
So try if you can to get a good 7-8 hours sleep per night. You’ll also feel more energised and raring to kick that body into gear with some exercise – which is where we supercharge our bodies into burning fat.
Fat loss over weight loss
If you’re looking to lose fat and not muscle then think fat loss rather than weight loss. Simply reducing your calorie intake to lose weight with no exercise, or consuming too few calories, will most likely result in you losing muscle as well as fat. It’s estimated that when people try to lose ‘weight’ a quarter of the weight they lose is muscle. This is because when you dial back the calories your body is forced to find energy from somewhere else which can result in it breaking down muscle as well as fat.
By including an exercise program alongside a good diet, we can reduce muscle loss and ensure the majority of what our bodies burn for fuel is fat. Maintaining muscle mass is also important as it keeps our metabolism higher (the rate at which our bodies burn fuel for energy) which is also important for fat-burning.
Try not to obsess too much over what the scales say either. Depending on the type of exercise you do, particularly if you incorporate strength training into your routine, you may find you build some muscle as your strength increases – which is your body’s way of adapting to exercise. As muscle weighs more than fat you may find the scales stay the same or even increase slightly. Instead, track your progress visually through the mirror and by measuring yourself – in particular the areas where you are looking to lose fat. For instance if your weight is remaining the same but your waist is getting thinner then you know you are losing fat and either maintaining, or even building muscle.
So, once you’ve got your diet sorted, you’re sleeping well and your mentally prepared for fat loss and not weight loss, what about the exercise?
We’ll get to that bit now…
Six Of The Best Exercises To Torch Body Fat
If you have your diet locked in and you’re well-rested, it’s time to kick that body into overdrive to start burning fat.
As I’ve already mentioned, in order to burn fat we need to burn more calories than we consume. Exercise can help us to achieve this by burning off the extra calories, helping to put us into a calorie deficit.
Of course, any form of physical exercise is good for you and will burn calories, but if you want to turbo-charge your efforts then below are six of the best exercises for increasing your heart rate, building muscle and burning fat faster than your typical workout.
Some of these exercises require some form of weight, but if you don’t have any to hand, then you can always improvise with large water bottles or any weight you can find around the house that you can safely grip onto.
As full-body exercises go, the burpee, although brutal, is one of the best ways to torch calories whilst working your chest, abs and core.
Start by standing with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself into a squat before placing your hands on the floor underneath your shoulder then hopping your feet back into a plank position. From here jump your feet back up towards your hands and then jump up whilst extending your arms above your head. As soon as you land back on your feet go straight into the next one and repeat. Continue for as long as you are able before resting. You could try adding these to the end of any workout, or tag them onto the end of a circuit as a brutal finisher!
Another explosive, full body exercise to build strength, burn fat and improve your overall power and posture.
Start by standing with your feet at shoulder-width with your knees slightly bent. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell (or a solid weight you can safely grip onto) with both hands so it hangs in between your legs. Bend at the hips and lower you body into a squat before extending the hips to bring you back to standing whilst swinging the weight out in front of you and squeezing your glutes at the top. Allow the weight to swing back down into a squat and repeat until you’re unable to continue in good form.
These are highly effective at fat burning, toning your muscles, and also help improve coordination and balance. If you don’t have a box then any raised surface you can safely jump onto and back off again will do!
Start by lowering yourself into a squat before pushing off the ground and swinging your arms forward to jump onto the box – making sure you land with your keens bent. Hop back down and then repeat for between 10 to 20 reps.
If you thought normal lunges were challenging then these will take it up a notch. This exercise helps to tone your legs and calves whilst boosting your heart rate.
Start by placing your feet one in front of the other and slightly bend your knees. Jump straight upwards switching your legs in the air then landing with the opposite foot to that which you started in front. When you land, do so with both knees bent to prevent injury. Repeat the move for up to 20 more reps.
Squat and Press (with Dumbbells)
This move works your whole body. Hold a dumbbell in both hands and in front of your shoulders, with your palms facing each other. With feet at shoulder-width, lower your body into a squat and at the same time rotate the dumbbells so your palms end up facing each other. Then extend your legs and push yourself up, at the same time pushing your arms above your head and rotating your wrists until your palms are facing away from you. Repeat for as many reps as you can.
Crunch and Squat
One to work your abs, quads and glutes all at the same time. If you have a bosu ball for this then great, if not then a pillow is fine. Lie down ensuring your lower back is resting on the ball or pillow. Bring yourself up into a crunch – ensuring you’re engaging your abs, then use your lower body to push up to standing position. Repeat this for up to 25 reps.
Over To You!
As I’ve mentioned, exercise alone is only half of the battle when it comes to burning fat. But if you incorporate these exercises into your weekly fitness regime, eat a nutritious and balanced diet and get sufficient sleep you’ll turn your body into a fat-burning machine and start to see results.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and it makes sense to you but, as always, if you have any questions, or would like to offer your own advice and experience to others on how to burn fat with exercise, then please comment below, I’d love to hear from you!