In this article, we’re going to take a look at the 5 best weight loss exercises you can do at home. The 5 exercises selected are not only great for weight loss but also for developing functional, whole-body fitness.
Each of the exercises below will support you on your weight-loss journey while also improving your strength, muscular endurance and cardiovascular capacity.
Furthermore, the following weight-loss exercises require little technical skill to perform, making them ideal for the beginner trainer.
In addition, because they require a few basic items of training equipment, links to which have been provided next to each exercise, they can be included in your home gym exercise routines.
How to workout to lose weight at home
Often people ask if there are there specific weight loss exercises for women and specific weight loss exercises for men. The answer is no. Weight loss exercises do not differentiate between the sexes. Running, skipping and kettlebell swings are just as effective at burning fat irrespective of your gender.
When it comes to weight loss workouts at home what’s important is consistency, intensity, and duration. To lose weight and burn fat you’ve got to exercise often – preferably every day.
Also, your weight loss workouts should be moderate to high intensity. If you only ever train at low intensities, you will not stimulate your body sufficiently.
Moreover, your fat loss workouts should range from between 20- to 60-minutes. Studies have shown that the body begins metabolising fat for energy after around 15-minutes of continuous training.
So, for the most effective weight loss workout, try to maintain a daily training routine that consists of moderate to high-intensity exercise for between 20- to 60-minutes.
Best Weight Loss Exercises #1: Rowing
Muscles worked: primarily the cardiorespiratory (heart and diaphragm) and those of the legs, back, and arms – so pretty much all the major muscle groups. Really the only muscles that escape unscathed from rowing are probably the pectorals and anterior deltoids.
Best Indoor Rower for the Home Gym
TOPIOM’s wooden water-filled rowing machine is by far one of the best rowers on the market. Built to exacting standards and constructed by professional manufacturers this rowing machine promises to last a lifetime. Compared to fan rowers, water-filled rowers offer a more realistic experience and are as close to sculling across the glassy surface of lack as the real thing.
Well, if your training objective is to lose weight, rowing is one of the best fat-burning exercises. Why? As identified above, rowing stimulates the major muscle groups – the legs and back.
In addition, as well as being a superior weight loss exercise, rowing is a great cardiovascular fitness developer. Few other exercises get the heart working like a brisk 2000-metre row.
How to row
Before setting sail, so to speak, ensure that the rower is correctly set up. The foot straps should lace across the knuckles of the toes and the ball of the foot should be positioned over the foot-plate grippers. The dampener, or resistance, is best set at 7 – not 10. By all accounts, 7 more closely simulates the resistance similar to that of rowing on water.
Once strapped in and dampener set, position yourself on the seat. Before removing the paddle slide the seat backward and forwards a few times. This will enable you to feel if your feet are in the correct position and it will also expose any debris on the rails, which can impede efficiency.
Grasp the paddle and execute the stroke remembering to initiate the movement with legs then smoothly transitioning muscle groups to the back and finally the arms.
The transition between the muscle groups should be one seamless movement.
Set the rower up before rowing!
Set the dampener to 7.
Make sure there is no debris on the rail by sliding backward and forwards few times.
Don’t fully fold your legs. Contrary to popular technical opinion the seat should not slide all the way in and touch your heels. At the innermost point, there should be about a foot gap. Don’t believe me? Watch this 2 X Olympic gold medallist show you how to row like a pro.
Don’t, in the outermost position, bend the knees until the paddle clears them.
Don’t slide your bum under the paddle when initiating the stroke. This is called ‘slipping’ and when you commit this time-honoured technical error the force exerted by the legs will not assist the rowing stroke.
Don’t allow the back to round excessively. Some rounding is inevitable but too much can place strain on the lumbar region of the vertebrae.
Don’t lock your legs out in the outermost position.
Don’t cock the wrists.
Best Weight Loss Exercises #2: Kettlebell Swing
Muscles worked: all of them! But primarily the gluteus maximus (bum), transverse abdominus (tum), latissimus dorsi (back).
We at Hungry4Fitness are constantly singing the praises of kettlebell swings. In our article The Benefits of Kettlebell Swing, we outline the many surprising ways swinging improves physical fitness and health.
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In a bid to keep this exercise tutorial concise, we will forgo an explanation of the benefits of kettlebell swings. However, if you’d like to learn about how kettlebell swings can promote whole-body fitness, follow the link above.
Kettlebell Swing Teaching points
Hold the kettlebell between your legs, palms facing inwards, feet a little over shoulder-width apart.
Keeping your back straight pull the kettlebell back and, using glute strength, propel the kettlebell forward until it’s level with your shoulders.
For a further fat burn, you can apply more power to the swing sending the bell above your head.
Ensuring to keep your core engaged throughout the exercise, allow the kettlebell to return to the start position and repeat.
Keep control throughout the exercise.
Relax during the movement.
Make sure that your feet are evenly spaced and planted firmly before attempting the swing.
Fix your eyes on a point roughly head height.
Ensure the arms are slightly bent throughout.
Do not bend or round your back – keep it straight or slightly concaved.
Do not at any point lock the legs out.
Best Weight Loss Exercises #3: Running
Muscles worked: those of the legs, cardio-respiratory (heart and diaphragm), and transverse abdominus. But of course, a multi-dimensional exercise such as running develops a whole host of smaller muscles. Arguably, running, like rowing and skipping, is as close to a whole-body exercise as you can get.
The benefits of running include
Improved cardiovascular and respiratory performance
Denser and thus more robust cardiac and respiratory muscles
Metabolization of superfluous non-force producing tissue (aka fat!)
Increased muscular definition mainly in the legs but also over the entire body
Increased bone density
(As a consequence of the above) reduced risk of developing osteoarthritis
Improved cognition and memory recall – basically improved brain function
Improved mobility and agility
Quick running FAQ
Will running reduce belly fat?
Yes, if you run regularly enough and maintain a moderate intensity for a sufficient duration you should notice a decrease in fat around your belly. But running does more than just burn belly fat.
Running has been shown to reduce overall body fat percentage which includes both subcutaneous fat (visible fat: love handles, muffin top, bingo wings, etc.) and visceral fat (the toxic ‘goop’ that surrounds your internal organs).
Will running tone my legs?
You bet it will! Running is a great leg toning exercise. However, because running reduces total body fat it also improves whole-body tonality. So, if you make running a regular component of your exercise regime, you should notice sharper definition in your legs, abs, chest and arms.
Are running shoes worth it?
Yes, most emphatically. If you are a regular runner you absolutely must invest in a quality pair of running shoes. Well-cushioned trainers have been shown to reduce aches and pains and injury susceptibility. And, as you’ll discover in our article The 5 Best Running Trainers, a quality pair of sneeks do not cost the earth. For top notch running attire see our other articles:
Why running matters?
In his excellent book Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest and Health, Daniel Liberman compares the relative longevity of runners to nonrunners. Plotted across a life expectancy graph ‘non-runners died at increasingly faster rates than the runners and […] were about three times more likely to pass away in a given year,’ (p.248).
Liberman cites a study conducted by Stanford research scientists showing that ‘non-runners were more than twice as likely to die of heart disease, about twice as likely to die of cancers, and more than three times as likely to die of neurological disease,’ (ibid).
Hopefully, this answers the question Why running matters?
Running teaching points
Ensure that you are correctly attired and that you have strapped to your feet a good quality pair of running trainers.
Prior to embarking on your run, it is best to start loosen-up with mobility exercises and a progressive 5-10-minute warm-up, which could consist of walking at varying paces, air squats, and light jogging.
Once warmed ease into a low-intensity jog.
For the first kilometre or so gradually elevate jogging intensity until you reach the pace that you plan to maintain for the majority of your run.
Maintain your pace ensuring to be mindful to keep relaxed throughout.
On concluding your run cool down and stretch. For a comprehensive overview of stretching and 10-Minute Stretching Plan follow the link.
Ensure that you’re adequately attired – and if you’re road running consider wearing high visibility elements.
Warm-up prior to running.
Maintain a relaxed posture throughout.
Sustain a light to moderate pace for between 20-minutes and 1-hour.
Don’t begin your run cold – by doing so you will significantly increase your chances of sustain muscle pulls/strains/tears.
Don’t push the pace too early.
Best Weight Loss Exercises #4: Dumbbell Thruster
Muscles worked: all of them! Seriously, when performing the indomitable dumbbell thruster every major and minor muscle group is recruited.
The thruster – whether performed on an Olympic barbell or pair of dumbbells – has increased in popularity thanks to the CrossFit movement. Since it’s conception in 2000, the thruster has featured in pretty much every CrossFit Games competition. The reason? Because few exercises are as physically taxing as thrusters.
Related: try these 21 CrossFit WODs
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In just this one exercise you will train the major muscle groups while also engaging your cardio-respiratory system. So, in addition to burning fat like the stuff is going out of fashion, thrusters will improve whole-body physical functionality and increase muscular endurance and muscle definition.
Dumbbell thruster teaching points
Stand with a pair of dumbbells by your sides, palms facing inward.
In one clean movement swing, the dumbbells level with your shoulders. They can rest on your shoulders.
While swinging the dumbbells level with your shoulders simultaneously drop into a squat.
When a 90ᵒ angle forms at the knee power out of the squat position.
As you fire out of the squat transfer the energy into the dumbbell shoulder press.
The dumbbell thruster should be performed as one smooth continuous movement. However, if you’ve never performed this whole-body exercise before, there’s absolutely no harm in breaking it into three movements: 1) biceps curl; 2) squat; 3) shoulder press.
Do select a light to medium weight pair of dumbbells.
Do ensure that you are thoroughly warmed up prior to performing the exercise.
Do take your time and be conscious of maintaining correct form throughout.
Don’t rush the exercise.
Don’t squat below 90ᵒ - ‘ass to grass’ squatting is a recipe for knee injuries and evenings at A&E.
Don’t lock the arms out at the topmost point of the shoulder press.
Best Weight Loss Exercises #5: Skipping
Muscles worked: all of them but primarily the heart.
Skipping is a brilliant weight loss exercise for many reasons. As well as being relatively low cost (the rope below costs merely £6.99) skipping confers a whole host of fitness and health benefits. Instead of outlining all those benefits in a hefty paragraph, they have been encapsulated in the long list below.
The benefits of skipping
Improves cardiovascular fitness
Improves heart and respiratory health
Is one of the best weight loss exercises
Develops stamina in the legs
Develops stamina in the shoulders
Improves coordination and agility
Stimulates cognitive engagement
Can be included in circuits, HIIT, EMOM, and AMRAP sessions
Is one of the best whole-body conditioning exercises
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Beast Gear’s steel jump rope is the perfect training tool and is suitable for all labilities. Fine-tuned and calibrated for optimum weight and balance this rope turns effortlessly meaning you can concentrate on your training and performance. The innovative adjustable design ensures that you can tailor the rope length to suit your height. For the price, this is by far the best skipping rope on the market, as the nearly 20,000 customers attest.
How to skip in 7 not-so-simple steps
Step 1: WARM-UP!
Step 2: While holding the rope in your hands, practice double-footed jumping – you are not jumping rope yet. Spend 1 to 2 minutes doing this.
Step 3: Holding the handles loosely, the rope at rest behind you, turn it over, and jump the rope –JUST ONCE!
Step 4: Congratulate yourself
Step 5: Repeat Step 3
Step 6: Again, a bit of self-praise
Step 7: Now that you’ve had a little go at getting over that wily rope it’s time to start racking up personal bests: try to count as many un-broken double-footed skips as possible. Every time you clip the rope or whip your arse, stop, take a 3-second count, then back into it trying each time to better your previous PB.
Steps 1 to 7 should span the duration of about ten minutes. I would advise against exceeding this. Put the rope away and merrily go about with the rest of your session. Over the course of the week try to get two or three more practice sessions in.
For a detailed and comprehensive guide to skipping follow the link.
(As we are very interested in user experience here at Hungry4Fitness, we would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance!)
Adam Priest, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.