I created a list with some of the best exercises for weight loss. Now while this is by no means an exhaustive list, you could simply only use these exercises and get amazing weight loss results.
If you don’t know how to perform an exercise, just leave a question below and I’ll help you out. Now, on to some of the best exercises for weight loss!
1) Back squats—this exercise needs no explanation or introduction. The squat has been known as the “king of all exercises” for great reason. Squats involve the majority of the body’s muscle mass and definitely build a great pair of legs. Squats are very beneficial for weight loss when performed with low reps and high reps. When in doubt, do squats!
2) Front squats—very similar to the above mentioned, the front squat is an excellent exercise for weight loss. The front squat can engage the core to a greater degree, but it can also be easier to perform and learn. Feel free to switch your squats from back to front for variety.
3) Unilateral leg exercises—this list is huge, but some examples are lunges, split squats, Bulgarian split squats, one leg squats, jump lunges, step ups, 1 leg RDLs, and many others. Whenever you do a unilateral exercise, you do double the work because you have to do a set for each side. Not only do unilateral exercises engage a lot of muscle mass (especially stabilizers), but they also burn more calories because you have to do twice the work. A workout consisting of nothing but unilateral exercises is an amazing way to burn off fat.
4) Unilateral upper body exercises—once again, this could be a very long list. Some examples are dumbbell presses and pulls, one arm pulldowns/chin-ups, and one arm push-ups and inverted rows (you can do these on an incline to make it easier). Remember: you’ll be doing double the work: that is definitely beneficial for weight loss.
5) Standing overhead presses—overhead presses are a great exercise, but they are even better when you are standing because you will greatly engage your core. That’s another tip: when in doubt, stand up!
6) Push-ups—this is a highly underrated exercise. Too many people think it’s only for beginners and therefore, they never do them again. I don’t care if you’ve been training for 1 day or 100 years, everyone should be doing some form of push-ups. You can easily make them tougher by doing spiderman push-ups or adding weight with chins, an X vest, bands, or weight plates. Push-ups are great for your chest, shoulders, triceps, core, and shoulder health. One other key: keep your butt and stomach tight the entire time. Do your push-ups!
7) Inverted rows—this is a great upper body exercise, and since you have to stabilize your body, you will engage more muscle mass. Engaging more muscle mass=burning more calories.
8) Chin-ups—chin-ups, pull-ups, neutral grip, whatever: you should be doing these. Forget about doing lat pulldowns or using other machines; pull-ups are much more beneficial. If you can’t do them on your own, have a partner assist you or buy a strong band and wrap it around the bar. If you’re not doing pull-ups, you need to start today. Tip: make sure your chest touches the bar and squeeze your shoulder blades back and down at the top.
9) Parallel Bar Dips—another bodyweight exercise. I don’t recommend you do a full range of motion simply because it can really tweak the shoulders. Just lower yourself until the top of your arms are parallel with the ground or slightly below your elbows. If you can’t perform these on your own, have a partner assist you or use a band.
10) Deadlifts—this is probably my favorite exercise; that’s probably because my body is just built for deadlifting. Anyway, this is a great exercise to strengthen your back and posterior chain. Not only that, but this is a movement that has a lot of carry over to real life. Think about it: how often do you have to pick something up off the floor? I don’t care if you do conventional or sumo deadlifts, just do them!
11) RDLs—these are very similar to deadlifts, but for some people they target the butt and hamstrings to a higher degree. Tip: make sure you stick your butt back to initiate the movement and thrust your hips forward. Focus on using your hips and not your lower back.
12) DB or kettlebell Swings—these are terrific for the glutes and hamstrings. Dumbbell swings are great to incorporate into lower body days or to use for interval training. Intervals with DB swings are a great and fast way to accomplish weight loss.
13) Jump squats—jump squats recruit most muscle fibers because you use a high amount of force. Once again: more muscle fibers recruits=more calories burned. These are great as a leg exercise or they can be used for interval sessions.
14) Burpees—honestly, this is probably my absolute favorite weight loss exercise. While they sound simple, they are damn tough. You can do standard burpees, add a push-up, or add a push-up and jump into a chin-up. Check out the video here: Two of the best ways to perform burpees are 1) have a set number to complete (i.e. 50) and time yourself or 2) have a set amount of time (i.e. 10 minutes) and see how many you can complete. Check out this video. (Two notes: 1) for some reason the video quality sucks and 2) I end up doing a pull-up and not a chin-up like I say):
15) Bench presses—the bench press seems to get a bad rap. The biggest problem with the bench press is that most people perform it incorrectly; it is much more technical than people think. Furthermore, most people spend too much time benching and neglect their back. This leads to muscle imbalances and shoulder issues. Take the time to learn the proper way to bench, and make sure you are doing a lot of pulling (rows, chin-ups, etc) and the bench press is a great exercise.
16) DB, cable, barbell rows—if you’re not doing these every week, you need to start. Tip: make sure you pull your shoulder blades back and down once you pull the weight to your body.
17) DB or BB push press—once again, you will use the majority of the muscles in your body. This exercise also allows you to use a heavier load than a standard overhead press. Keep your stomach tight the entire time.
18) Olympic lifts—these are definitely great for weight loss. However, I don’t recommend you do them unless you have had a coach teach you the proper technique. Olympic lifts are very technical, and it’s best you avoid them unless you know exactly what you’re doing. These can be used during weight training sessions or interval style: i.e. 12 sets of 3 reps with 30 seconds rest.
19) Planks—front and side planks are great exercises for your core. You’ll engage more muscle from these exercises than you ever would with crunches or sit-ups; not to mention, these are much more beneficial and healthier for your core and spine.
20) Hanging knee/leg raises—when you do these properly, they are very tough. Make sure you focus on pulling your legs up with your stomach. Focus on curling your pelvis toward your chest; otherwise you are just using your hip flexors.
21) Bodyweight exercises with a suspension trainer —this is a great tool. You can use it at home, outside, when traveling, or even at the gym. The suspension trainer allows you to take typical exercises such as push-ups, rows, lunges, overhead presses, knee tucks, and many more exercises to a whole new level. I highly recommend you get one of these if you workout at home or outside. It truly is a great tool to use to kick your bodyweight training up a notch. If you train at home, this alone could be priceless.
22) Zercher squats—while these can be a little uncomfortable to perform, they are an excellent exercise. To make them easier on your arms, wrap a towel around the bar. If you haven’t done these before, you really should give them a try.
These last few can be considered more for conditioning as opposed to resistance training, but they are incredibly effective for weight loss.
23) Hill sprints—most people shouldn’t do all out sprints on flat ground because of the chance of injury. Sprinting up a hill puts you in a more natural position to run, and you simply can’t go full speed. If you are outside and don’t know what to do, sprint up a hill.
24) Jump rope—this is another one of my favorite exercises because you can take a jump rope anywhere. Jump rope intervals are a great way to burn off fat. I recommend jumping rope for 30 seconds and resting for 1 minute. Try to work your way down to a 1:1 ratio (jump rope 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds). These are a quick and easy addition to the end of a training session or on an off day.
25) Tire flips—if you have access to these, they are a fun addition to your training. Make sure you have the mobility necessary to perform these properly.
26) Sled drags—another great tool to use if you have access to one. Load it up and drag it forwards and backwards. When done interval style, this is one of the best exercises to burn off fat and, therefore, lose weight.
27) Sandbag work—you can easily build a sandbag at home. All you need are heavy duty garbage bags, pea gravel, duct tape, and a duffle bag. Sandbag work is fun and also very challenging. You will have to work harder to stabilize the load and to hold on to it. Anything you can do with a barbell can be done with a sandbag.
Time for a Little Observation:
Take note of how many bodyweight exercises are listed. You could easily workout with nothing but your bodyweight and get amazing weight loss results. You can train at home, outside, at the park, on the road, etc. Many people do nothing but bodyweight exercises and they have very lean, athletic physiques. There are absolutely no excuses. Take advantage of bodyweight training if you don’t have the time, or don’t want to, go to a gym. Your bodyweight is all you need. Something like a suspension trainer would just provide more variety and excitement to your bodyweight training.
Also, notice I didn’t list a single machine. You are much better off moving your bodyweight through space or moving a dumbbell or barbell. Stay away from the machines; they are no were near as beneficial as the other exercises mentioned. I could go on and on about this one, but just take my word for it and stay away from them.
Finally, notice there are no single joint exercises listed. If you’re goal is to lose weight as fast as possible, single joint exercises like curls and triceps extensions have no place in your training program. You need to use big, compound exercises that recruit as much muscle mass as possible.