Best exercises for weight loss

Starting with the basics: how does weight loss occur?


Weight loss occurs when your body uses more calories over a period of time to enable bodily functions and physical activity than the amount of calories that you put into your body through eating food and drinking.

Thus, the best exercises for weight loss are the ones that expend the most calories either by their duration or through their intensity. Whichever of these factors that come into play, per unit of body mass, more calories are expended performing an exercise that requires a full body movement rather than an exercise that uses the upper or lower body only.

Lace up, get going


Which exercises are the best?

The awards for best exercise: Gold Award (the best), Silver Award, Bronze award, Honourable mention


Supersets or Giant Sets – Honourable mention

Perform one exercise for 30-45 seconds, then perform another, then another etc. etc.. This is Giant Set (a Superset being the performance of just one exercise straight after another). Changing to another exercise after you have completed the previous will give your brain the mental respite it needs to carry on working out again even if it’s using the same muscles but in a different action. This approach allows you to carry on burning calories through the continual performance of exercise. Try a giant set of Chest Press, Squat Jumps, Press Ups and Mountain climbers.

Equipment: anything or nothing


Boxing (sparring) – Bronze Award

An exercise which provides a mixture of muscular and cardiovascular strain. A sparring session of 20 minutes can burn 200 calories through the continual movement on your feet and the power movement of a punch. Continual sparring or intense interval sessions can provide equally good outcomes.

Equipment: boxing gloves and pads


Burpees – Bronze Award

The positives: The exercise uses every inch of your body in an explosive action. Because of this, the impact of the exercise on your muscles and nervous system will have you burning more calories for hours after you have finished the exercise. Plus, the only equipment it requires is you and your body, plus 2 metres by 2 metres of space. The negatives: it is so intensive that doing more than 45 continuous seconds will be tough and only for the very fit. And in 45 seconds, you can’t burn that many calories. However, 45 seconds on and 1 minute off repeated for 10-15 times will burn calories, get you very fit  and create stronger muscles. Add a press up in the middle of each one and you will be laughing…or crying.

Equipment: none


Long distance running – Silver Award

In terms of a way to lose weight, It’s out of fashion at the moment, and yes it is getting more and more impractical in a world where people can dedicate less and less time to working out. Its final nail in the coffin is that continual pounding of pavements with the wrong shoes for decades is associated with putting a stress on the joints. But when you look at the bare bones of its physical activity, the exercise works the full body and can burn between 500 to 800 calories an hour. Not bad for an action that we do every single day (just speeded up!)

Equipment: Trainers and the outdoors (or treadmill, a subsidiary option)


Battle rope – Silver Award

A full body brutal annihilation. You may feel like an angry orangutan having a hissy fit whilst performing it but moving two ends of a rope up and down as fast and as vigorously as you can is incredibly taxing on your whole body. Your arms, shoulders and back perform the movement and your legs and core provide isometric stability. This is an exercise that can’t be performed for long but rest and repetition is a good way of incorporating it effectively. It is also a brilliant ‘finisher’ completed at the end of a workout to really improve fitness, strength and stamina; using it like this will also allow you to burn more calories after you’ve finished your workout too.

Equipment: a thick heavy rope of at least 10m in length


Hill sprints – Gold Award

The Chief Executive Officer of weight loss exercises. Running burns a lot of calories, as we have seen with long distance running. But how about we look to burn the same amount of calories when you’re performing the exercise and then more calories for up to 48 hours after the exercise? Running for 15 minutes to find a hill can burn 150 calories. Sprinting for 30 seconds up a hill and then jogging back down 8 times can burn 200 calories. Running back from the hill can then burn another 150 calories. Total = 500 calories in 40 minutes. But due to the intensity, your muscles are taxed a lot more when sprinting up a hill than running on flat land. Thus, the ‘after burn effect’ from this sprinting means that again the body burns more calories for the next 48 hours to repair the ‘good’ stresses that have been put on the muscle – this can be up to another 300 calories.

So over 48 hours, you’ve worked out for less time doing hill sprints and burned more calories in total than if you had run steadily for that same period of time. Plus, running up a hill actually puts less stress on joints than running on the flat.

Not bad. Go find a hill.

Equipment: Trainers and of at least 50m in length.

Chris James MA O.A.Dip, Fitness Body Pro

Chris James MA O.A.Dip, Fitness Body Pro

Chris James
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