People work out for different reasons. Some people want to have a rock hard body, while others simply want to shed some pounds. Regardless of what your goal is, you’re going to want to burn off some fat. Fat burning exercises will tone up the muscles of those who want to get ripped, and help the pounds fall off of those who want to lose weight (Read: Meet Your Weight Loss Goals With 10 Dieting Tips).
If you want to burn fat you’re going to have to pump up your work out. The faster and harder you exercise, the more calories you burn off. Also, a good thing to focus on is the number of repetitions per exercise. Lower reps with high weight are going to build muscle, but higher reps with low weight are going to scorch the flab. Most trainers recommend aiming for 12 to 16 reps for each fat-burning exercise.
Beyond the exercises themselves, you need a good work out strategy. The best thing to do is to train in intervals. Alternate reps of intense exercises with reps of lighter exercises. One other piece of advice is to exercise your whole body when doing a fat-burning workout. Don’t just target the parts you consider to need the most work, but give equal attention to all areas. Working out all of the major muscle groups well help reduce overall body fat.
Now, it’s time to lace up your sneakers and put in your ear buds! Here are fifteen of the best exercises to burn and reduce fat. Note that some of them require dumbbells or elastic bands, but all of them can be done in the comfort of your home.
- Push ups. Push ups are great because they are simple and can be easily modified. If you feel like regular push ups just aren’t cutting it, you can try raising one leg and alternating legs every few reps. For more variety you can do close push ups (elbows pressed to your sides), wide push ups, and the very intense diamond push ups (making a diamond shape with your hands and lowering your chest to it).
- Dumbbell chest press. Lie on the floor in a regular bench-press position with a dumbbell in either hand. Then raise your arms straight above your chest and bring the dumbbells together. Bring your arms back down until you have a dumbbell on either side of your chest, and then repeat.
- Concentration curls. Sit down on a bench or chair with your dumbbell on the floor. Keep your legs spread apart and place your left hand on your left knee. Then, pick up the dumbbell with your right hand and begin curling. Make sure to keep your right arm inside the right leg and to bring the dumbbell all the way up to the chest. Switch arms and repeat with left side. This works better than regular curls because it allows you to focus on the full range of motion. However, you can also alternate with regular standing dumbbell curls to create variety.
- Tricep extensions. Start by holding one dumbbell with both of your hands. Hold the dumbbell behind your head so that it hangs right below your neck. Then push with your triceps to extend the dumbbell straight up above your head. Lower it back down and repeat.
- Dumbbell kickbacks. Begin by bending over with your knees slightly bent, like you’re starting to crouch. Grab a dumbbell in either hand and hold them up against your chest. Then kick your arms back until they are outstretched with the dumbbells hovering above your back. For best results, try not to move your elbows and focus on moving just your lower arms.
- Dips. Find a bench or a chair, something that is fairly close to the ground. Hold yourself up on the edge of the furniture with your hands. Your legs should be laid out straight in front of you, so your butt is hovering over the ground. Allow your butt to come down until it can’t anymore, and then push yourself back up to the starting position with your arms.
- Shoulder press. This works much the same way as the chest press, but instead of bringing your arms together over your chest you are doing it over your head. Begin the exercise in a standing position with a dumbbell in each hand and your arms out and bent at right angles. Raise the dumbbells up and bring them together over your head. Lower back down and repeat.
- Lateral raises. This one is simple but after a few reps you will really start to feel the burn in your shoulders. Stand up and hold the dumbbells down at your side. Then raise your arms out away from your sides, keeping them straight, until they are level with your shoulders (making a right angle with your body). Lower them back and repeat. You can also add in some front raises, which work the same way but you bring your arms up in front of you instead of to the side.
- Jumping squats. This can be one of the most excruciating exercises for people who don’t work out their legs very much. Simply squat down, bowing your legs and placing your hands on the floor in front of you. Then push up powerfully with your legs and jump into the air. Land right back into your squat and do it again. The key with this exercise is to do each rep as fast as possible.
- Jumping lunges. This one is also tough on the legs. Start in a lunge position, with your right knee bent at a ninety degree angle and your left leg stretched out behind you. Then jump up and switch your legs in midair. You should land with your left knee bent and your right leg stretched out behind you. Then continue to jump, every time switching leg positions.
- One leg toe touch. This might sound easy but it requires a lot of balance and focus, especially if you are already tired from the other exercises. Basically you’re just bending down to touch your toes one foot at a time. But when you reach down to touch one foot, your other leg goes out straight behind you. Make sure to reach for the left foot with the right hand and vice versa. This exercise works best by doing one set of reps for one foot, then switching to the other.
- Calf raises. Most people forget about their calves, but this is a very important area to work out. You can do calf raises by simply standing on your tip toes, holding for two seconds, then lowering back down. For variation try pointing your toes outward, pointing them inward, doing one calf at a time, or holding dumbbells in your hands to put more weight on the calves.
- Mountain climbers. Start by placing your body in a regular push up position. Then alternate bringing each knee up to your chest in rapid succession. Basically you are running in place as fast as you can, but bent over with your hands on the ground. It will feel like a punishment, but the rewarded calorie burn makes it worth it.
- Jack knives. Start by lying flat on your back with your arms outstretched above your head. Then crunch your abs together and lift your arms and legs up. The goal is to try and touch your toes with your fingertips on each rep. If you can’t do that than just bring the feet and hands together as close as possible. This is an example of a great exercise that burns fat and tones your abs at the same time. [Read: 6 Excellent Ab-Ripping Exercises to Adopt Right Now]
- Bicycle kicks. Start by lying flat on your back, but this time keep your legs off the ground and your hands behind your head. Bring the right knee to your chest and kick the left leg out straight, then switch. Pretend like your legs are pedaling a bicycle and you will get the idea. If you want to make it more challenging you can try to touch each knee with the opposite elbow (right elbow to left knee, etc). This will burn the fat off of your abs, your obliques, and your legs.
So there you have fifteen of the top fat burning exercises. You don’t have to do all of them in one workout, but you should at least be rotating a few of them each day to make sure you’re targeting your entire body. And as with any kind of training or workout, consistency is crucial. If you have long gaps in between your workouts then the fat is just going to come right back. To keep it away for good you have to stay busy. It is recommended that you exercise at least two to three times a week, though the serious trainer can do more.