Squat for maximum burn
© Vicky Hadley
Fitness Training

8 of the best exercises to burn fat

Personal trainer and fitness blogger Vicky Hadley gives us her top moves for maximum burn...
Written by Vicky Hadley
5 min readPublished on
If you find yourself feeling lost at the constant changes and debates over what exercises and diets are the best for burning fat, you’re not alone. Working out regularly with little to no results can be very off-putting, draining, as well as time consuming.
Ultimately, the best way to burn fat is to ensure that your calorie consumption is less than the number of calories you are burning through exercise. This means that you need to make sure you are eating less than you are burning. To prevent hours of prolonged cardio, (albeit in smaller doses it can be very beneficial), you want to be aiming for the exercises and exercise methods that burn the most calories in the minimum amount of time to help you achieve the body you are after.
Here are eight of the best:

1. Squats

Squats are a compound movement which means that it involves using more than one muscle at one time. Squats activate the quads, hamstrings, knees, ankles, glutes and hip joints whilst being performed.
Research shows that as more muscle fibres are recruited in compound movements like squats, they will burn more calories than an isolated movement, for example a lunge, when being performed. Squats are also a beneficial exercise for preserving muscle mass – during weight loss sometimes muscle can be lost as well, so it is important to practise exercises like squats which will help you lose weight whilst maintaining a taut, toned body.

2. Deadlifts

The deadlift, much like the squat, is another brilliant exercise. This is due to the fact it is one of the best compound exercises around as it involves nearly every major muscle group in the body meaning that it will have a much higher energy expenditure – and a higher energy expenditure means a higher calorie burn. Start with dumbbells in each hand and work up to using a barbell.

3. Kettlebell swings

Kettlebell swings are definitely not one to avoid. These powerful movements activate your glutes and quads whilst quickly building up your heart rate. A study carried out by the University of Wisconsin showed that during a 20 minute kettlebell workout participant's heart rates rose to 93% of their maximum rate and with it burnt 20.2 calories per minute – wow!

4. HIIT on cardio machines

We all have heard of the benefits of HIIT (high intensity interval training) by now – if you haven’t you must have hiding been under a rock! But you may not yet know that the real benefits of HIIT can arise from interval training, such as those performed on cardio machines. For example, doing sprints of the treadmill or rowing machine can result in a higher energy expenditure than slow steady state cardio. This means that you can burn more calories in a shorter period of time. Try swapping between walking and sprinting on a slightly inclined treadmill for an intense workout that your body will thank you for!

5. Burpees

Burpees are many of our worst nightmares when it comes to HIIT training and with their impressive calorie burning properties it’s no surprise why. Burpees combine a plank, push up, squat and jump into one exercise – so next time you only have five minutes spare to workout you know what to do! A study by the Journal of Strength & Conditioning examined the types of exercises which revved up the metabolism the most and found that amongst the best were the burpees and the battle ropes. (You’ll find those later on!)

6. Box squat jumps

Oh, and we’re back to the squat once again. Only this time we are adding a heart racing jump into the equation. Plyometric exercises (a powerful movement which often involves a jump) such as the squat jump is excellent at stimulating the fast twitch muscle fibres of the body. We have both slow and fast twitch muscle fibres in our bodies, both which play an important role in exercising. However, fast-twitch muscle fibres are used for short, fast and explosive movements, which in turn burns more calories in a shorter time compared to slow twitch muscle fibres which are used for longer repetitive exercises such as jogging.

7. Walking lunges

Walking lunges are another brilliant calorie burner. Combining resistance work (when weights such as dumbbell are used) with cardio it revs up your metabolism. The heavier the dumbbells the more energy you expend. In other words, instead of using the lightest, easiest weight – go for a heavier option as it will lead to a higher calorie burn.

8. Battle ropes

No fat burning workout would be complete without the battle ropes. As mentioned earlier, a study by the Journal of Strength & Conditioning examined the types of exercises which revved up the metabolism the most and found that battle ropes were beastly! The battle ropes work at toning and building lean muscle in your shoulders and arms as well as activating the core simultaneously. Try doing a HIIT workout and changing the style of your technique between whipping the ropes together, one at a time and rotating them in outward circles to keep it fun and different.