These Exercises Torch Some Serious Calories
BY LISA WILLIAMS
The number one rule of exercising for weight loss: Lift.
If they feel hard, remember: Each rep gets you one step closer to your goal weight.
Unlike cardio, which stops fighting fat as soon as you get off of the treadmill, serious strength training pulls 24/7 overtime to help you reach your goals. That’s because, apart from burning calories in the gym, weight training builds lean muscle. That fat-free tissue is the key to stoking your metabolic fire, hacking your hormones, and helping you slash calories like whoa. If you’re nowhere near the gym, use your body weight to build up muscle.
Sold? Good. Here are the top exercises that use both your own body weight as well as free weights to help you drop pounds drastically. Svelte physique here we come…
There are many variations to the lunge, but the plain jane forward lunge is still very effective for weight loss, as it works multiple muscles at once (think: glutes, quads, and hamstrings) for max calorie burn. Get ready to move those short-shorts to the front of your closet.
- Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. Place hands on your hips or hold weights, and take a controlled step forward with your right leg.
- Keeping your spine tall, lower your body until your front leg and back leg form a 90-degree angle.
- Pause, then bring your right leg home to start.
- Now do the other side by stepping forward with your left leg.
- Repeat 10 times on each side. Do a total of 3 sets.
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This exercise effectively targets your core, chest, and legs simultaneously. Feel the burn and know you’re building lots of lean muscle.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides. Push your hips back, knees bent, and lower into a squat.
- Place your hands on the floor directly in front of you and shift your weight to them. Jump back softly to land on your feet in the plank position.
- Jump your feet forward so they land just outside of your hands. Reach your hands up and jump explosively into the air.
- Immediately lower back into a squat for the next rep. Repeat 8 to 12 times. Complete 3 sets.
Kettlebells are very effective when used for weight loss because they engage the entire body. Plus, they’re low impact yet high intensity—ideal for calorie burn.
- Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Grasp kettlebell with both hands in front of you.
- Engage core and slightly squat. Press hips forward as you stand and swing the kettlebell upward. Lower arms and return to the slight squat position for 1 rep. Complete 3 sets of 15 swings.
“This is the mack daddy of strength moves for fat loss,” says Perkins. “It literally involves every single muscle in the body for huge metabolic effects.”
- Burn it up: Grab a barbell (start with a 35-pound pre-loaded barbell or a 45-pound Olympic barbell, if you’re new to deadlifts) and stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Position the barbell in front of your thighs with your palms facing your body (A). Maintaining a neutral spine, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower the barbell toward the floor. Push through your feet and squeeze your glutes to return to standing (B). That’s one rep.
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The LBD of the gym, squats do it all. But, if you usually perform squats with the weight in front of your chest, like with a dumbbell or kettlebell, it’s worth switching things up. When the weight is loaded across your upper back and shoulders, you put a greater emphasis on the almighty glutes. Your glutes are the biggest muscle group in the body, so working them is an awesome way to crank up your metabolic burn, she says.
- Burn it up: At a squat rack, stand under a barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart. (Start with a 35-pound pre-loaded barbell or a 45-pound Olympic barbell if you’re new to barbell squats.) Grab the barbell with both hands and lift up on the bar to remove it from the rack. It should rest across your upper shoulder, just below the base of your neck. That’s the starting position (A). Now, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower your body as far as you can (it should feel hard, but not hurt) (B). Pause, then slowly push yourself back to the starting position.
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Reverse Grip Pull down
While chin-ups will accomplish the same thing—working virtually every muscle in your back, shoulders, and arms, as well as those deep in your core—not every woman is ready to start cranking those out on a whim, says Perkins. Either way, reverse-grip pulldowns will burn fat and help you work up to the real deal.
- Burn it up: Sit at a lat-pulldown station and grab the bar with a shoulder-width underhand grip, palms facing you. Your arms should be straight and torso upright (A). Keeping your torso still, squeeze your shoulder blades together to pull the bar down to your collarbones (B). Pause, then slowly return to start. That’s one rep.
Incline Bench Press
The bench press is about so much more than the chest—especially if you do it at an incline. This simple move also hammers the front of shoulders, triceps, and even your biceps and traps, she says. Basically, you recruit a ton of muscle groups for awesome fat-burning benefits.
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