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Paige Waehner

What's the Best Fat Burning Exercise?

By March 22, 2012

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What's the best fat burning exercise? This is a question I get a lot, mostly because the idea of incinerating all that extra body fat is just too good to resist and there's just got to be some exercise that will get the job done, right?

Fat, in general, is highly flammable, but the fat that resides in our bodies (specifically, the love handles, the spare tire, the saddlebags and the batwings) seems stubbornly flame retardant no matter how hard we try.

So, when someone asks that question, I'd love nothing more than to offer a clear, concise answer, like, "Running at 8.69 miles per hour!" or "Doing 53 squats, followed by 19 pull ups and eating 16 egg whites!" or "Spending hours at this website!"

The truth is, fat burning comes from:

  • Cardio - There isn't any 'perfect' fat burning cardio exercise. The key isn't so much what you do, but how hard you work at it. Intensity (and varying it with different workouts) is what you want to focus on to burn fat and you can find out how it works in Burn More Fat With Cardio.
  • Strength Training - Muscle is to fat as a hummingbird is to my cat Ziggy. Muscle, like a hummingbird, is busy. It's pumping out calories to keep your metabolism going and it never stops. Fat, like my cat Ziggy, sleeps all day and, when it does get up, it eats and then, exhausted, goes back to bed. Strength training will make you more like a hummingbird and less like Ziggy.
  • Consistency - Surprisingly, this is the most important part of the fat burning equation. The body, when exposed to regular exercise, becomes a fat burning machine, able to reach into each cell, oxidize the fat inside and hand it to you (or to your muscles) on a silver platter. Without exercise, your body does the opposite. Instead of getting more efficient at burning fat, it actually gets better at hoarding fat, making weight loss even harder.

So, there you have it: Consistent cardio and strength training. Not the wow factor I was hoping for, but the truth isn't always sexy.

More About Burning Fat

December 23, 2006 at 11:13 pm
(1) Megan says:


January 12, 2007 at 11:11 pm
(2) MARCELLE says:

To lose fat from stomach and other areas quickly, train at least 5 to 6 days a week for a least one hour incorporating high intensity workouts like fast jogging and qucik action sports, and with stregth workouts like situps and push ups. For all you women out there dont be afraid to do weights the more muscle u have the quicker u will burn fat because it trains your metabolism quicker. also another quick way to decrease weight gain ….do not eat after 7pm unless it is a little piece of fruit… and lunges and stepping are a great way to tone that butt and thighs.

March 9, 2007 at 5:35 pm
(3) gorge says:

I don’t think any women should lose their butt fat. It’s sexy and all men love it whether they say it or not.

March 14, 2007 at 11:34 am
(4) Michael says:

A good circuit routine can accomplish this no problem. You can build functional strength, serious endurance, and burn a lot of calories. A circuit program is just where you run through a number of different exercises over and over without stopping. Pushups, then burpees, then crunches, then jumping jacks, etc. Burpees are probably the greatest thing ever. To do a burpee you start out standing like normal, squat down, put your hands on the ground and jump your legs back into a pushup position. At this point you can do a pushup or opt not to, then bring your feet back under your hands and jump up into the air, dont just stand up. To tighten your torso nicely instead of just crunches, reverse crunches, and oblique exercises, do body bridges. A body bridge is when you are on the tips of your toes and forearms, no other bodyparts touching, and your body as straight as you can hold it. Thighs and ass do squats and hop on the stairstepper. Thats about all I got as far as toning and fat loss goes.

Michael – USMC

March 23, 2007 at 8:49 am
(5) Daniel says:

This is just another case of someone who knows something good and doesn’t really practice it, although I am trying it:
The BEST ab workout that you can actually feel the difference it makes in your balance and body strength is
Pilates. I hate fake advertising (though I’m not advertising for them) but to tell you the truth, if you try Pilates,
YOU COULD NOT TELL ME OR ANYONE that you didn’t feel a difference from the FIRST TIME you try it.
You feel like you hold your balance much better.
Because it strengthens your lower back.
It feels like it hits all these “bases” you never even knew you had.
I really am starting to sound like a promotional ad now, huh?
LOL enjoy!

March 27, 2007 at 3:13 pm
(6) imran says:

spinning classes burn the most fat

March 31, 2007 at 4:22 pm
(7) Phillip says:

For abs, do 20-15-10 of weighted sit-ups. I’m already in shape so I use a 25lb, then 35lb, then 45lb plate and hold it on the top/back of my head.

Anything you want to be more shaped, you have to build the muscle in that area. For thighs and your butt, sure, stairs and lunges work those areas but if you add a little bit of weight (ankle weights, light dumbells) then the results are achieved much faster.

Jogging at about an 8min30sec – 9min/mile pace for 20+ minutes will definitely give you an instant boost in energy and give you (not instant) very visible results in around 1-2 weeks (assuming you exercise at least 3 days per week and cut back on processed foods)

May 21, 2007 at 8:13 pm
(8) Manny says:

All due respect but the best exercises for burning fat comes down to one word. Squat. You have to squat. High intensity training like running and jogging is not as effective in burning fat as low intensity training or High intensity interval training. Bottom line you want to burn more fat train your legs like crazy. Squats, lunges, step ups, leg extensions, leg curls. together with cardio, and a proper diet you’ll be burning fat fast.

June 9, 2007 at 4:46 am
(9) Jen says:

Ok people.. In case u haven’t noticed.. No one is replying to ur comments. So I wouldn’t waste any more time on the computer waiting for advice. All I can say is get off the desk chair and do something active!

June 11, 2007 at 9:27 am
(10) P says:

dear V,
i had that same problem…and i found out that those kind of area have a lot of stubborn fat and the only way to take it off is by eating low fat foods and physical activities…doing this for a long period of time will start to cut down the stubborn unwanted fats there…there is a reason for calling them stubborn fats…so just continue what your doing for as long as you can…and i can guarantee that there will be a difference…tho the amount of time is different for different bodies. Hope this helped at least a lil

June 19, 2007 at 1:34 pm
(11) Rhypes says:

1 – quit eating so much fat – eat a big breakfast – medium lunch – and a small dinner – nothing past 8pm –
2. – running – aerobics – lots of leg workouts – general strength building exercise.
3. stay focused – stay consistent – or else do not expect results

its hard to do – but do it!

July 3, 2007 at 10:49 pm
(12) k says:

For anyone who wantes to loose weight,this is old fashioned but effective. if you concentrate on it and stick to it and exercise for an hour every day you WILL see results!!
stay at 1500 calories a day and try not to have it be a lot of junk. let it be pretty healthy, but dont overdue yourself. that is what causes you to quit the diet! it worked for me!! it just takes self disipline. good luck!

July 22, 2007 at 12:20 pm
(13) Ann says:

Everyone has some sort of specific food type they should stay away from(adds to much fat to ur body) once you find what it is and limit how much you eat it you will be loosing weight REAL fast!!

August 3, 2007 at 7:21 pm
(14) Matthew says:

The best way to lose weight and look like the Adonis or Aphrodite you’ve always wanted to, and fast is to:
limit your calories to 1500-1800 calories per day; eat a good breakfast, 500-600 calories; a weight watchers or lean cuisine meal for lunch and one for dinner works great for me.
Eating more of a vegetarian diet will lose weight fast – vegetarians usually have the best bodies do they not?
For a snack eat one of those cereal/yogurt bars or something small like an apricot; don’t over do it, no more than 2 snacks a day.


The dreaded CARDIO!!! Learn to love it; it’s the only way. Get that heart rate up for at LEAST 20 minutes 3-4 times per week. I swim laps for 15 – 20 minutes every morning;
A run up and down the bleachers will get that butt and those thighs in beautiful shape real fast;
try to do less sitting. Live an adventurous, active life-style if it’s possible. Ride your bike to work if it is close enough! I love to go hiking or mountain-climbing on the weekends.

And last but not least, strength training. Stronger muscles burn fat faster and train the metabolism quicker; you hear it everywhere, it’d practically be anathema not to listen!
Start a habitual strength training regimen – 2 – 3 times per week at least.

And that’s it! (hah! I know, just change your life completely; you know, not too much to ask~ :-D

September 24, 2007 at 12:13 pm
(15) The Doctor says:

Yeah well I agree with Gorge dont make the butt smaller by losing weigh mayb tone it some but definetly guys like meat on the butt so cheers.

October 17, 2007 at 7:55 pm
(16) Keisha says:

I am a 21 year old female and I want to loose 20 pounds I eat pretty healthy now but I dont know what type of excercies I should do. Advice please

October 30, 2007 at 1:42 am
(17) bec says:

get a personal trainer, they help make sure you are doing the exercises properly, they help motivate you and push you to a safe intensity you wouldn’t do on your own.

some people use them just to get their results and others will continue on with different programs every 6-12 weeks.

don’t be fooled personal trainers are not that expensive if you look in the right place, you can bulk buy and it actually becomes cheaper too!


November 10, 2007 at 6:17 pm
(18) Jean says:

In the past two years I have lost a signifigant amount of weight and finally feel pretty good about myself. I eat relatively healthy (who doesn’t eat some junk every once in a while?), and do a variety of ab-toning exercises every night, but my legs are bigger than the rest of my body! What are some good, effective, fat burning leg exercises that I could try with my normal routine?

November 13, 2007 at 6:14 pm
(19) emraan says:

its what i did and got the desired results,
the golden rule
1-EAT TO LIVE(1/4 your diet)
2-CARDIO EXERCISE———-jogging and jogging
3-be patient and dont use loose dresses instead put on tight unfit dresses so you get the feeling you gotta do something!!!

November 26, 2007 at 5:03 pm
(20) mr shoulderpress says:

Dont listen to him Eat to live whats all that about!!!!

eat good food not crap and eat it in fair amounts through out the day. I train like mad day in day out but when working out for competitions ive seen friends drop 20-30lbs in body fat and look shredded in a matter of 2-3 weeks by working hard. End of the day im not fat never have been probably never will be but we all have hard to shift stubborn areas of fat, but ive managed to shed the love handles and ab covering layer of blubber and im taking in in the region of 4000-5000 calories a day. If you guys out there have lost 100lbs and some your obviously doing something right if it took you a year to do that think what you will achieve in another year of working hard! good on you hard working guys for what you have all ready achieved keep working it!

January 3, 2008 at 7:11 pm
(21) Pete says:

run – run – run for alteast a half hour 4 times per week to burn fat. lift weights for large muscle groups – quads, glutes, hams, biceos and chest.

eat protein – 5-6 small meals – drinks alot of water – that’s it.

January 4, 2008 at 5:15 pm
(22) Vee says:

Not to be a complete downer, but I think you guys talking about what makes a woman sexy is a bit rude. Don’t add to the societal pressure to look one way or another, and NEVER assume a woman looks good to please a man. Male attention isn’t what the ladies are striving for, get over yourselves boys.

February 5, 2008 at 2:42 pm
(23) Adrian Smith says:

I have lost 10 kgs in one month with this routine:
20 min running divides in:
5 min med speed after this 5 min you’ll will increase every minute a nivel of intensity until you complete 10 min, when you get here slow down to nivel 5 intensity, This workout burn the fat very fast.

February 14, 2008 at 9:36 am
(24) gdp says:

Unfortunately you can’t lose fat on butt, thighs etc without achieving loss in body fat overall. There is NO SUCH THING as spot reduction. Any good personal trainer, book, website will tell you this. My experience has shown the following to be the best approach:
- large compound exercises (squats, deadlifts, bodyweight lat pull downs and dips etc) will boost metabolism after exercise – cardio does not do do this
- interval training 20 – 40 mins at least 3 times a week
- lay of the rubbish carbs (white bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits, fizzy drinks)
- drink plenty of water

There is no magic formula, just hard work and discipline.

February 15, 2008 at 12:05 am
(25) Jané says:

Wow, this just proves that forums are NOT the place to find intelligent, qualified answers.

I went to a good gym with well educated trainers and got myself a one hour consultation where he went thru my eating and life style habits.

The program he then made up for me WORKED.

March 5, 2008 at 4:25 pm
(26) KarenOue says:

Jane I know what your saying but if your going to make comments about intelect write proper sentance structure. LOL. you are correct although. Phillup your training is remarkable how can I achieve this when I run (jog)LOL at 4 I cant fined my strengh to go the whole 20 min, I change to a fast walk. I do have it on a strong inline, should I take the incline off? Your amaizing I wish I had your endurance. thanx Karen you motivated me.

March 12, 2008 at 4:49 pm
(27) DF says:

I tried the fat burning method on this site and it really works!

March 31, 2008 at 9:58 am
(28) John says:

ok here, here is the fastest quickest way to lose body fat, First and most important is diet, you can work out for 3 hours, but if you come home and eat a huge pizza then your workout was basically pointless, eat things very high in protein and very low in fat, such as chicken and fish(not fried) you can find good eating diet tips on millions of websites, ok and as for the workout, to burn fat can you say Curcuit training, to do this you must preform a series of dufferent workouts in this order, lower body, upper body, intense cardio for 2 minutes, and back to lower body and so on and always switch the workout per curcuit, like this, first go through you do leg press, then bench press and then treadmill, 2nd go through you do dead lift then shoulder press and straight to some ab workout then eliptical trainer, and so on, and always do 30+ reps for both upper and lower body, eat 6 small! low fat! meals a day, about 3 hours apart from each other, and don’t QUIT! fat loss is a gruelingly slow process, just hang in there

June 4, 2008 at 12:38 pm
(29) sandkeeper says:

You know loosing weight is all about doing something, sticking with just one thing can get boring (you are all right, but it’s not an exact as some you make it out to be). Just get out and move and eat well, it all depends on how motivated you are and how much you are willing or able to do. Just like the fact that you can not target weight loss as long as you’re doing something to get your heart rate up and you metabolism up you are going to lose weight, but you have to eat correctly as well.

July 3, 2008 at 2:26 am
(30) Shevchenko says:

The best burning exercises is playing “futbol” or any sport consisting of running and movement through out the whole body..so if you want to lose fat and have fun its one of the best ways.!

October 14, 2008 at 11:34 pm
(31) wes says:

a forum on losing weight will never have an end :]

a lot of what I see are all very effective in losing weight and promoting lean muscle

incorporate the knowledge and understanding of the 5 components of fitness into your regimen: cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, and body composition

if each one is targeted in a balanced manner, effective results may be achieved. beginners may start at a minimum of 3 times a week, but the more that is done, the more one can achieve. for those who are more advanced, 5-6 times a week is adequate, but never overdo anything (even if it is a good thing). add variety into your long term plan, because the same thing will get boring (especially with women).

to be on the safe side, your caloric input should be about 300-500 less than that of your caloric output (if your BMI is over 25 with a body fat percentage indicating overweight) and 500-1000 less (if BMI is over 30 with a body fat percentage indicating obesity). women should never take in less than 1200 calories a day and men should never take in less than 1600. severe weight loss results can occur and have a long list of adverse side effects from the cellular level all the way to aesthetics.

consulting a nationally certified personal trainer and a registered dietician is a great place to start. most doctors don’t have training in exercise physiology or dietetics/nutrition, so seek professional advice.

October 14, 2008 at 11:44 pm
(32) wes says:

it should also be understood that after years of unhealthy habits such as bad eating and lack of exercise, our bodies accumulate more fat cells as well as experience growth of fat cells. once fat cells have accumulated, the only way to get rid of the number of cells would be surgically (liposuction). however, the size of the fat cell may be reduced by practicing healthy eating habits and participating in regular physical activity. losing 8 to 10 pounds a month is a safe and effective goal.

it should also be noted that many of the recommendations that have been stated in this forum should only be applied to adults over the age of 18. pediatric and teen regimens differ tremendously and should be under the supervision of a physician, exercise physiologist, certified trainer, dietician/nutritionist, etc.

there is no one exercise that is the cure-all, but physical activity itself is a very important part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. exercise goes far beyond just looking good. the list of intrinsic benefits exceeds the aesthetic rewards by far. as stated in a previous post, compound exercises require more energy to perform, therefore, more calories (energy) are burned.

October 14, 2008 at 11:50 pm
(33) wes says:

there is no set time that the metabolism shuts off, so for example, if your last meal is at 7 PM, but you went to bed at 12 AM, your last meal was 5 hours ago. this is too long to wait. meals should be approximately 2-3 hours apart and the last meal of the day should be consumed no more than 3-4 hours before bedtime. time management and regular sleep cycles are very complimentary to weight loss goals because they help promote dietary planning and making time for exercise.

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