Most Effective Fat Burning Exercises

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed.
Women Doing Step Aerobics

When you are trying to lose weight, learning which exercises burn the most fat can help you reach your goal faster. All exercise burns calories but some types are more effective than others. Discover the most effective fat burning exercises that can help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Examples of Effective Fat Burning Exercises

While all forms of exercise will help you burn fat, exercises that continually target your major muscle groups while increasing your heart rate will help you burn fat more effectively. Keep in mind that when you're trying to burn fat, calories are the key to success. You can increase your calorie burn, thereby increasing your fat burn, by playing with the "FIT" principle - frequency, intensity and time. If you exercise more frequently, with greater intensity and/or for a longer period of time, you will increase your fat burning capability. Consider the following exercises.

Group Exercise

Group exercise classes include everything from step aerobics to cardio kickboxing and Zumba. The great thing about these workouts is that an instructor will lead you through the movements while pushing you to work your hardest. If your goal is to burn fat, look for cardio classes that incorporate high-intensity full-body movements like kicking, jumping and dancing with strength training exercises. By challenging both your cardiovascular system and your muscular strength, you will ultimately burn more calories and fat as you exercise and recover. Thirty minutes of exercise can burn between 200 and 400 calories.

Jogging and Running

Woman running down stairs

Jogging and running are good aerobic exercises that burn calories much faster than simply walking. A light jog for an hour will burn approximately 500 calories while an hour-long run can burn between 550 to 1125 calories, depending on your speed, weight and body composition. The great thing about this type of exercise is you don't need any equipment, just well-fitting athletic shoes and comfortable clothing. According to the Mayo Clinic, an hour-long session of 5 mph jogging burns about 584 calories while a 8 mph run burns 986 calories. If you really want to burn more calories and fat, try running intervals or running up hills - by switching between high-intensity and moderate-intensity exercise throughout your routine, you will actually burn more calories and fat as your body has to work to recover from each high-intensity interval.

Biking or Cycling

Biking engages the calf, thigh and gluteal muscles, while providing a great fat burn workout. Depending on the intensity, an hour-long bike ride can burn between 500 to 1125 calories. The Mayo Clinic found that even a leisurely hour-long bike ride of <10 mph can burn about 292 calories for a 160-pound person. Remember, by working harder or performing intervals, you can increase your calorie and fat burn. If you don't want to bike outdoors, most gyms offer group cycling classes that enable you to exercise under the supervision of a trained instructor who will push you to increase resistance and challenge yourself during every workout.

Active Sports

Fun sports activities that provide intense cardio workouts include basketball, soccer, squash, volleyball, racquetball or football. They all get the heart pumping and eliminate hundreds of calories as you run, jump, twist, reach, slide and backpedal to play the game. In one hour, basketball can burn about 700 calories, football and squash can burn as much as 800 calories, and soccer and racquetball may burn around 600. The Mayo Clinic estimates that a person of 160-pounds will burn between 500 to 584 calories during most leisurely hour-long sports games. If you choose to participate in sports to increase your fat burn, remember that the accumulated time you spend being active is extremely important - avoid counting water breaks, timeouts or team huddles toward your total exercise time.

Rollerblading

If you like the idea of skating, try rollerblading for exercise. It provides a total body workout because of how you lead with your lower body, using your arms and abs for balance. The Mayo Clinic's exercise chart indicates that a 160-pound person can burn as much as 913 calories when rollerblading for an hour. If you're just starting out, look for smooth, flat concrete trails to get the hang of this skill. Skating does require a significant amount of balance, and you may have to work on your ankle and calf strength before you feel comfortable.

Rowing

Use a rowing machine or join a rowing team to get a good workout that wipes away fat fast while strengthening the entire body. Rowing for 30 minutes can burn about 300 calories on average. The Mayo Clinic found that rowing on a machine for an hour burns 511 calories in a 160-pound person. The great thing about rowing is that you have to push backward with your legs while pulling with your core and back, essentially engaging your entire body throughout the exercise. The harder and faster you row on the machine, the more strength you will gain and the more fat you will burn.

Health and Exercise

Your current health condition will determine your best exercise routine for optimal weight loss. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine to make sure that you are healthy enough for the new workout, and then enjoy exploring a variety of exercise options.

Most Effective Fat Burning Exercises