So you’re looking for the best fat burning workout? Well you’ve come to the right place. There’s tons of conflicting information floating around about fat burning workouts but this article will put an end to the confusion. I will tell you the exact workouts that burn fat, show you exactly what you need to do, and provide you with a ton of proven resources so you can get started blasting your fat away. By the end of this guide, you’ll know the best workout to burn fat and you can get started right away!
Best Fat Burning Workout: The Philosophy
Let’s break it down so it’s really simple to understand. The philosophy for the best workout to burn fat looks like this:
- Train on an empty stomach
- 30 to 45 minutes duration
- Keep your heart rate between 120-140bpm.
That’s about as simple as we’re going to make it. If you take just one thing away from this guide, let it be those three bullet points. We’ll go into details below but that is the core philosophy right there. Train on an empty stomach, preferably in the morning after you wake up, for around 30-45 minutes, and make sure you heart stays around 120-140bpm.
Why Workout In A Fasted State?
If you workout after eating, your body will just burn off that food, preferring to use glucose for energy. You’ll need to spend a lot more time and effort to actually burn any fat. Cardio on an empty stomach ensures that you are burning fat and not food. You’ll see results much quicker. I see absolutely no point in having a meal right before your cardio session. It’s pointless if you’re goal is to lose fat. I recommend waiting at least 3-4 hours after eating before you hit the cardio. Ideally, you should just do your cardio first thing in the morning. That way your stomach would have been empty for around 8-12 hours at least.
Tips To Make Fasted State Cardio Easier And More Effective
My top tip is to have some coffee or take a fat burner in the morning before your cardio. This will give you the energy and motivation to actually get your body moving. It will certainly make the cardio more pleasurable too.
Coffee and fat burners actually make your body burn more fat when in a rested state, so pairing them with fasted cardio is a killer combination. I love to put some great music on my headphones, have a cup of strong black coffee, take a fat burner, and then hit the treadmill for 30 minutes when I’m dieting. You’ll probably actually have to force yourself to stop after 30 minutes. That’s how much energy and motivation you’ll get from the coffee and fat burner combo.
My next tip is to take some BCAAs. Make sure you have a branched chain amino acid supplement that has no sugar and no calories. BCAAs are the building blocks of protein. They won’t take you out of your fasted state but they will ensure that you spare your muscle from the catabolic effects of cardio. Simply put, having BCAAs before fasted cardio will ensure that you burn fat not muscle.
- I recommend RED Burner as the best fat burner on the market.
- I recommend Scivation Xtend as the best BCAA supplement on the market (so tasty).
Don’t Overdo It With Fasted Cardio
You are already burning fat way more efficiently than most people. If you feel dizzy or ill from your fasted cardio, dial it down a notch. I recommend around 30 minutes but if you hit 20 minutes and feel really terrible, call it a day. Do some stretching, drink a bunch of water, have a protein shake, and make sure you recovered and feeling ready for the next cardio session. We don’t need to destroy ourselves here. It is way more important that we are consistent and do something everyday, instead of exerting ourselves too much too soon and giving up immediately.
What About Weight Lifting?
Weight lifting should be a staple of any fat loss diet (unless you have a reason not to do it). It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman. Weight lifting will help you preserve muscle and lose fat.
Many trainers are used to hour-long marathon weight training sessions. But when it comes to burning fat, weights are primarily a tool for keeping the muscle on your frame to make sure you lose fat not muscle.
I recommend sticking to around 15-20 minutes per weight training session. You can do a session before your cardio or at another time in the day. I like to just get it done. I hit it first thing in the morning, and then I do my cardio.
I suggest you pick one or two compound exercises and lift heavy for low reps. You’ll probably lose some strength on your fat loss diet but training heavy for low reps should mitigate some of the damage.
Here are some examples of compound exercises that will help with fat loss:
- Bench press
- Pulls ups
- Overhead press
You can always mix it up and do high reps on one day and low reps on another. Just take a light weight and get the blood pumping, using the weights almost like cardio and shooting for 20-30 reps.
How Much Cardio Should I Do?
- Aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
In the late stages of a diet, when you’ve been restricting calories for a couple of months, you might even need to reduce the amount of cardio you’re doing. You’ll know when you get there but if you fat loss progress stalls, trying cutting the cardio sessions back to 3 or 4 times a week. Once you’ve done that for a couple of weeks, you can kick up the frequency again.
What Type Of Cardio Should I Do?
If you really want to blast your fat away, I recommend doing high intensity interval training (HIIT) for 2 or 3 of those cardio sessions. For the other cardio sessions you can have a brisk walk on a high incline on a treadmill or you can play a sport or do some steady-state cardio.
Here’s a sample high-intensity interval training routine for running on the treadmill:
- Minutes 1-3 – (Warm-up) Light walking
- Minutes 3-5 – Brisk walking
- Minutes 5-6 –Fast jog (~7kmph)
- Minutes 6-7 – Walk (~3kmph)
- Minutes 7-8 – Run (~8kmph)
- Minutes 8-9 – Walk (~3kmph)
- Minutes 9-10 – Fast run (~9kmph)
- Minutes 10-11 – Walk (~3kmph)
- Minutes 11-12 – Fast run (~10kmph)
- Minutes 12-13 – Walk (~3kmph)
- Minutes 13-14 – Sprint (~12kmph)
- Minutes 14-18 – Walk
- Minutes 18-27 – Brisk walk alternated with jogging
- Minutes 27-30 – (Warm down) Light walking
That template isn’t gospel and it isn’t one-size-fits all. If you don’t do a lot of running, you will have to make the sprint intervals 30 seconds instead of a minute. Likewise, if you already do a lot of running, you might need to make that more challenging for yourself and make the sprints faster.
You’ll notice that I recommend steady-state cardio right after the HIIT. This will give youone of the most phenomenal fat burning workouts. The interval training taps into your fat and burns it. Then the steady-state training is way more effective at keeping that fat burning going. If you pair this with an empty stomach, some coffee, BCAAs, and a fat burner, you will absolutely destroy that fat! You will be primed for fat loss. It won’t take long to hit your fat-loss goals if you do it this way.
Why Train Heavy When Losing Fat?
You certainly can mix it up (high and low reps) but I recommend that the bulk of your training focus on heavy weight. Make sure you are properly warmed up and then lift low reps and high weight. A rep range from 3-8 per set is a good rule of thumb. You need to do this to ensure that your physique stays hard. You’re going to lose a bit of strength on a fat loss diet anyway. If you stop all strength training, you’ll look soft by the end of the diet.
How Many Days Should I Train Weights?
I would say 3 days of weights per week is enough.
Make sure you’re following a strength-based workout (with high reps if you need to mix things up) and keep the duration short (~20 minutes) and the intensity high. The other days of the week (I suggest 5) should incorporate cardio training. Have a couple of days doing high intensity cardio and a couple of other days just moving your body.
Here’s an example schedule:
- Bench Press 3 x 3-5
- Pull ups – AMAP (as many as possible)
- Goblet squat 3 x 20
- Cardio: running, bike, swimming, rowing (HIIT)
- Cardio: incline brisk walk
- Overhead shoulder press 3 x 5-8
- Dumbbell curls 2 x 15-20
- Triceps pull down 2 x 15-20
- Cardio: running, bike, swimming, rowing (HIIT)
- Cardio: incline brisk walk
- Squat 3 x 8-10
- Pull-ups AMAP
- Dumbbell Bench Press 3 x 5-8
- Cardio: running, bike, swimming, rowing (HIT)
Saturday and Sunday
- Rest/active recovery like stretching, mobility training, light cardio
As Long As You’re Moving, You’re Losing Weight
There’s no dogma here. If you’re feeling terrible and you just can’t face pounding the treadmill, mix it up. It’s better to do something than nothing at all. Here are some quick options you can do when you can’t be bothered getting in the gym:
- Go for a long walk in the park with my dog and listen to an audiobook/podcast
- Hit the skipping rope – I recommend this one.
- Shoot hoops on the basketball court
- Get a friend to come rock climbing with you
- Play tennis or badminton or soccer or anything that gets you moving and is fun
- Take a dance fitness class like Zumba
If you can do any of those things in a fasted state, that’s even better. But don’t get hung up on that too much. Just do something! The best fat burning workout is the one you stick to.
Remember: Working Out Is Just One Piece Of The Puzzle
There’s a saying: Six-pack abs are made in the kitchen.
What this means is losing body fat is mainly an issue of diet. Sure, you can speed things up by doing targeted cardio like I recommended. But if you are still bingeing on Big Macs and drinking Mountain Dew by the gallon each day, you’re not going to see any progress. Make sure your diet is tight and primed for fat loss. That’s when these fat burning workout tips will really become magical.
Fat Burning Workouts At Home
If you don’t have access to the gym, there are three bodyweight routines that I have personally used to great effect. Each of these routines blasts the fat from your body.
I learned about the first routine from Rusty Moore over at Fitness Black Book: http://fitnessblackbook.com. It’s called “The Crazy 8 Body Weight Circuit”, developed by Craig Ballantyne.
Check out the video of the routine here:
Here is the blueprint:
Each exercise is done back-to-back with no rest. Once you’ve done the full circuit, rest for 1 minute, then do the whole thing again. Once you can, add a third round. Good luck. I consider myself in pretty good shape but this circuit leaves me wheezing and begging for air.
1. 60 Jumping Jacks: Do these as fast as possible.
2. 15-20 Spiderman Pushups: These are much harder than normal push-ups.
3. Walking Lunges: 20 steps should do it.
4. Spiderman Climb: 20 of these (10 per side).
5. Wall Squat: Do this for 45-60 seconds. Feel the burn!
6. Planks: Do this for 60 seconds.
7. 5 Burpees: This is a real killer.
8. High Knees: Do these as fast as possible and aimfor 50.
The second one of my recommended fat burning workouts at home is the one shown in this video by the Buff Dudes:
I was travelling abroad when I first found this video. I didn’t have access to a gym for months and desperately needed to stay in shape. The Buff Dudes saved my butt! They also kicked my butt with this workout. I’m warning you. You’ll be breathing hard from this one!
Here’s the blueprint:
Watch the video to see how the exercises are done. Use this as a quick reference.
- Bulgarian split squats 4×20 each side
- Inverted rows with a broom and two chairs 4×20
- Plyo push-ups 4 sets to failure
- Bodyweight shoulder press 4×10-15
- Bodyweight triceps extensions 4×15
- Inverted bicep curls 4×15
- Dips 4×15-20
- Isometric leg holds 4×30 seconds (superset with dips)
- In-n-outs 4×30 seconds
Another way to get in shape without a gym, is to follow the body weight principles outlined in Convict Conditioning. This book shows the principles that allow prisoners to stay in shape even when they don’t have access to a gym. You can use those same principles by getting the book here.
3 Month Extreme Body Weight Program
The third routine I’ve followed to lose fat without a gym is this one outlined by Todd Kuslikis: http://ashotofadrenaline.net/extreme-workout/
It’s quite in-depth so check it out when you have some time to spare and see if it’s the right workout for you. It definitely kicked my butt and got me in great shape.
Now let’s check out some of the best fat burning resources to help you lose weight.
Fat Burning Resources
Rust Moore’s Visual Impact Cardio
The best book on the subject of fat burning that I have ever read is Rusty Moore’s Visual Impact Cardio. It’s the book that taught me about pairing HIIT with steady state cardio for fat loss. It also explains the benefits of fasted cardio. It’s packed with science (if you’re into that) and has a program you can follow that steadily progresses as you do. You can get it here: http://visualimpactcardio.com
Muscle Building Course
I also highly recommend Rusty’s muscle building course. It got me in the best shape of my life. If you want to look like a fitness model instead of a bodybuilder, Rusty’s workout plan is for you. The male course is here: http://visualimpactmusclebuilding.com
The female course is here: http://visualimpactforwomen.com
Greg O’Gallagher’s Aggressive Fat Loss Plan
Another option is to pick up Greg O’Gallagher’s Aggressive Fat Loss plan. Greg got a lot of his fat loss philosophy from Rusty but puts his own fresh spin on things. I’ve followed this program as well and it got me a tight six-pack within a couple of months (I didn’t have too much too lose but it was stubborn fat): https://pages.kinobody.com/offers/afl/
Jason Ferrugia – Renegade Strength Club
Another great resource is the Renegade Strength Club. Jason Ferruggia, who is one of my favorite fitness personalities, owns this club. Check out his blog: http://jasonferruggia.com/blog/. I’ve followed his advice for many years now and he has never steered me wrong. When you become a member, you get brand new workouts every week plus a bunch of delicious fat burning and muscle-building diet plans, a library of HD video tutorials, direct access to Jason, community support, and monthly motivation meetings. Check it out: http://renegadestrengthclub.com
Many of the core principles of fat loss are applicable to both genders. However, there are many diet and exercise tweaks available depending on whether you are male or female. There are fat burning workouts for women that take into account the needs of the female body. There are two superb options for women looking to tone up and blast the fat. The first is Jason Ferruggia’s Bikini Body Workouts: http://jasonferruggia.com/bikini-body-workouts/
The second is Greg O’Gallagher’s Goddess Toning Program: http://my.kinobody.com/courses/goddess-toning-program/
Those two options contain some of the best fat burning workouts for women. The other options can be used by both genders. They aren’t just fat burning workouts for men!
Another option is to follow the P90X Beach Body course. If you take this option, I recommend you stay away from the additional cardio as outlined above. As for weights, I would even suggest you cut that down to twice a week and keep it super short. P90X is very taxing and will do a great job of getting you shredded but it can be overkill for some people.
If you love the idea of having a proven, structured course that mixes things up to keep it interested, and you like following along with workout videos,P90X might just be for you. You can buy it here.
Check out Tony Horton’s free workout video first. Follow along and see how you like it. That will help you make your decision for buying P90X:
I followed this video every other day for a month and got me in superb shape. I’ll warn you though, it’s pretty gruelling if you’re not used to this sort of thing.
In Conclusion – The Best Exercise To Burn Fat Is…
The best fat burning exercises are those that adhere to the philosophy I have outlined in this guide. You want to do the following:
- Cardio on an empty stomach
- Weight training for strength
- HIIT cardio
Forget the glossy magazines that tell you the best fat burning exercises are crunches and sit-ups and endless hours of cardio. Just make sure you are eating in a calorie deficit, do some cardio while your stomach is empty, and do high intensity cardio a couple of times a week. Magazines love to cite individual workouts that burn fat but really there is no one workout that will burn your fat. You need commitment. You need to stick to a program (an effective one like I outlined) and make sure you follow it consistently until you hit your goals. That’s the secret for the best way to burn fat.
Looking for more ways to burn off the fat? Check out our blog on The Best Fat Burning Diets to compliment your workouts!