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Best Fat Burning Exercises

It's all about the intensity

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Updated April 17, 2012

The great thing about exercise is that it's one of the most important things you can do if you want to burn more fat. The bad news? There is no 'magic' exercise that will make it happen overnight.

That doesn't mean you can't speed up the fat burning process and one way to do that is this: Work at a higher intensity. It requires spending time in a place where oxygen is scarce and discomfort is abundant, but the pay off is a stronger, sleeker body with less fat and more muscle. Find out about the best fat burning exercises and how they can help you lose the fat for good.

High Intensity Interval Training

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What it is: A type of interval training where you alternate short, high intensity (or anaerobic) exercises (e.g., all out sprints) with recovery intervals.
Why it works: Studies show that HIIT triggers metabolic processes that enhance the breakdown of fat in the body, leading to more efficient use of fat as fuel, a greater calorie deficit and more calories burned after the workout.
Who it's for: Experienced exercisers who can handle a challenge. For beginners: Try basic interval training and gradually work your way up to HIIT training.
HIIT Workouts and Resources:

Lifting Weights

Paige Waehner

What it is: A workout using resistance (your body, weights, machines, etc.) against the muscles with exercises designed to increase strength, muscle and endurance.
Why it works: Lifting weights improves the body's ability to metabolize fat and use it for energy while also increasing calories burned after your workout. To get the most fat-burning potential, make sure you lift enough weight to challenge and overload your muscles. More about choosing your weights.
Who it's for: Everyone including seniors, beginners, teenagers and overweight or obese exercisers.

Strength Training Workouts and Resources:

Circuit Training

Paige Waehner

What it is: Circuit training involves doing a series of exercises (strength, cardio or both), one after the other, with no rest in between.
Why it works: Similar to high intensity interval training, the fast pace of this workout keeps the heart rate elevated, allowing you to burn more calories and use fat more efficiently to fuel your body. It also contributes to the afterburn, allowing you to burn more calories for hours after your workout.
Who it's for: Everyone. Beginners can start with a basic circuit workout and gradually work their way up to more advanced routines.

Circuit Workouts and Resources

Anaerobic Exercises

Paige Waehner

What it is: Anaerobic exercises, moves performed at a very high intensity, are often a staple of the activities mentioned above, but you can also incorporate them into any cardio workout to boost your fat and calorie burn. Start by working at a moderate intensity and insert 30-60 seconds of anaerobic exercise (e.g., burpees, squat jumps, etc.) every 4-5 minutes.
Why it works: As in the other activities mentioned, intense exercise triggers the release of fat burning hormones (particularly growth hormone), enhancing the body's ability to access and use fat and increasing afterburn.
Who it's for: Experienced exercisers ready for a challenge.

Anaerobic Exercise Resources

The Table Push

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What it is: This exercise won't even cause you to break a sweat, but it's the hardest one of all: After you've eaten enough to be satisfied (not stuffed), place your hands on the table and, in one smooth movement, push yourself far enough away that you can no longer reach your plate.

Why it works: All the exercise in the world won't burn any fat if you end up eating more calories than you burn. Exercise contributes to the calorie deficit required for fat loss, but you can easily undo all that work with just one snack. Controlling your diet makes all that hard work worth it.

Who it's for: Anyone who wants to lose fat.

How to Eat Less

Sources

Alcaraz PE, Sánchez-Lorente J, Blazevich AJ. Physical performance and cardiovascular responses to an acute bout of heavy resistance circuit training versus traditional strength training. J Strength Cond Res. 2008 May;22(3):667-71.

Bea J, Cussler E, Going S, et al. Resistance Training Predicts Six-Year Body Composition Change in Postmenopausal Women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 July; 42(7): 1286–1295.

Godfrey RJ, Madgwick Z, Whyte GP.The exercise-induced growth hormone response in athletes. Sports Med. 2003;33(8):599-613.

Haltom R, Kraemer R, Sloan R, et al. Circuit weight training and its effects on excess postexercise oxygen consumption. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999 Nov;31(11):1613-8.

Sources

Kravitz L, Herrera L. Yes! You do Burn Fat During Resistance Exercise. IDEA Fitness Journal, 6(4),17-19.

Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism. 1994 Jul;43(7):814-8.

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