Best Exercises For Weight Loss: Top 5 Ways To Shed Pounds, According To Fitness Experts

If you’re on a weight-loss mission, you certainly need to know which workouts will aid you in transforming your body. After all, some may be more effective than others, and some may better suit your level of skill. For these reasons and more, we searched the web to find the best exercises for weight loss, according to fitness experts, and we’ve listed them here for you.

If you’ve tried to lose weight in the past, then you know it’s easy to get derailed. Life is full of tasty detours. But what you may not have considered is that your family and friends may be roadblocks in your weight-loss journey. New research out of the University of Surrey finds that those closest to you may not have your best interests in mind. “Weight loss often results in change, from giving a person more confidence to a change in social dynamics in their relationships. Many do not welcome such changes and may, consciously or subconsciously, try to derail a person’s attempts to lose weight in order to keep things the way they are,” says Jane Ogden, a Surrey professor of Health Psychology and lead author of the study. “Overall, the team concludes that family and loved ones more often than not don’t want to purposefully stop you from reaching your goals, but certain behaviors can do that even if coupled with the best intentions.”

Family and friends aside, many people rely on the plethora of fitness trackers available to aid in weight loss. But do they really make a difference? A recent study from the University of Minnesota shows that trackers may be worth the money. “Wearable fitness trackers represent a practical option for people who are overweight or obese and who have weight-related conditions. They allow users to set and track physical activity and provide constant reminders to get up and move – which promotes self-monitoring and self-regulation,” says corresponding author Dr. Zan Gao in a statement per South West News Service.

With so many conflicting opinions on how to shed a few pounds, we’ve narrowed it down for you. Below is our list of the five best exercises for weight loss, according to fitness experts. Of course, we want to hear from you. Comment below to let us know which form of exercise best helps you reach your health goals!

The List: Best Exercises for Weight Loss, Per Health Experts

1. Strength Training

CNET shares the why behind strength training: “First, lifting weights can help you lose fat while still building muscle, which is awesome for your metabolism. Muscle mass burns more calories than fat, which means you burn more calories every day when you have more muscle, even while you’re sleeping. Muscle mass does not make up for the nutrition side of weight loss, but it can help.”

Woman lifting weights at gym
Woman using a squat rack at a gym (Photo by John Arano on Unsplash)

Healthline notes that “A 155-pound (70-kg) person burns roughly 108 calories per 30 minutes of weight training. Also, weight training can help you build strength and promote muscle growth, which can raise your resting metabolic rate (RMR), or how many calories your body burns at rest. One 6-month study showed that simply doing 11 minutes of strength-based exercises 3 times per week resulted in a 7.4% increase in metabolic rate, on average. In this study, that increase was equivalent to burning an additional 125 calories per day. Another study found that 24 weeks of weight training led to a 9% increase in metabolic rate among men, which equated to burning approximately 140 more calories per day. Among women, the increase in metabolic rate was nearly 4%, or 50 more calories per day. In addition, studies have shown that your body continues to burn calories many hours after a weight-training workout, compared with aerobic exercise.”

“Despite its connotation, ‘lifting weights’ can refer to any type of resistance training that helps build muscle. It doesn’t matter whether the workout uses dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands or even strength-training machines in a gym setting. As long as there’s a ‘load’ that challenges the muscles, it’s considered resistance training. To further enhance your results when resistance training, Saladino recommends completing ‘compound’ exercises—strengthening moves that require the use of more than one joint. ‘Studies show compound exercises like the classic squat, deadlift or chest press tax the body a lot more than an isolation exercise,’” writes a Forbes reviewer.

2. Yoga & Pilates says that “Yoga, Pilates, and general stretching won’t necessarily help you burn calories like HIIT and weight training can. But they can make you stronger and more limber, which helps execute those intense exercises with precision and confidence, explained Davis. ‘Any kind of strengthening and stretching is beneficial for weight loss because it will make your body stronger and more limber,’ explained Davis. ‘This makes it possible to tackle your cardio and weight sessions with more intensity.’ And while Davis noted that your caloric expenditure wouldn’t be exceptionally high during a yoga session, it’s still a form of resistance training. You’re just using your body and gravity to supplement a lack of weight.”

Woman doing yoga outside
Woman doing yoga outside (Photo by Надя Кисільова on Unsplash)

“Research says that Pilates — exercises usually done on a mat or with various tools that emphasize core strength — can make you stronger and help you keep a healthy weight. The intensity of a Pilates class depends on your needs. You can find some classes or demonstrations online or at your local gym. [Yoga] is a practice that combines physical activity and meditation. It’s a popular way to practice mindfulness after a long day at work, too. But the benefits don’t stop there. Research suggests that over time, people who are overweight and do yoga at least once a week for 30 minutes lose weight and have lower BMIs. Folks who do yoga are also more mindful eaters, meaning they’re more likely to know when they’re truly hungry and when they’re full,” explains WebMD.

Women’s Health understands that yoga may seem a strange suggestion: “Doing yoga for weight loss can seem counter-intuitive, not least because one of the main benefits is a calmer mental state. However, zen-vibes aside, there’s a lot to be said for the strengthening and lengthening asanas you’ll find yourself in. Focus on the more vigorous yoga flows – Vinyasa and Ashtanga – for a higher calorie burn, or slower-paced classes – Yin and Restorative – to counteract the other forms of exercise you’re doing. Renowned for its focus on the core muscles and lengthening abilities, doing Pilates every day or weekly can help to burn fat by increasing your heart rate but it won’t be at the same intensity as exercise like running and cycling.”

3. Interval Training or HIIT

Healthline writes, “Interval training, more commonly known as high intensity interval training (HIIT), is a broad term for short bursts of intense exercise that alternate with recovery periods. Typically, a HIIT workout lasts 10–30 minutes and can burn many calories. One study of 9 active men found that HIIT burned 25–30% more calories per minute than other types of exercises, including weight training, cycling, and running on a treadmill. That means HIIT can help you burn more calories while spending less time exercising. Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that HIIT is especially effective at burning belly fat, which has links to many chronic diseases. HIIT is easy to incorporate into your exercise routine. All you need to do is choose a type of exercise, such as running, jumping, or biking, and your exercise and rest times.”

Older man jogging and running on treadmill
Man jogging on the treadmill (© Svitlana –

“If you’re doing lots of cardio (i.e. walking or running) without the results you’re looking for, experts say interval training—or alternating between short bursts of intense effort and periods of lower intensity or rest—may help. Why? Because muscles are metabolically active, so they burn calories even when you’re not exercising. Working out in intervals is one way to reap the benefits of cardio and strength, while maximizing your calorie burn in a short amount of time. The intensity resets your metabolism to a higher rate during your workout, so it takes hours for your body to cool down again. This is what’s known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). That means you burn calories long after you’ve finished your workout compared to doing a workout at a continuous moderate pace (a.k.a. LISS), according to a 2017 study from the European Journal of Applied Physiology,” notes Prevention.

Forbes reminds that “Though the actual activity may vary, HIIT is regarded as an extremely time-efficient way to exercise. In fact, a short HIIT workout can burn as many calories as a longer steady-state workout (a typical HIIT session lasts about 10 to 30 minutes) and may lead to similar body composition changes in people with overweight and obesity as moderate-intensity continuous training.”

4. Swimming or Water Exercise

If you need a mode of exercise that won’t beat up your joints, jump in a pool. Women’s Health writes, “’Swimming is a great way to lose weight,’ says Puplampu. ‘Swimming for 60-minutes, 3 times per week can significantly reduce body fat, improve flexibility and reduce your risk of heart disease. Due to its low-impact nature, it’s easier on your joints too which makes it a great option for people with injuries or joint pain.’”

A woman swimming with goggles and a swim cap
A woman swimming laps (Photo by Mia Gracia Tabili on Unsplash)

“‘It uses so many muscle groups without putting wear and tear on your joints.’ If you want to increase your intensity, you can try using webbed gloves or flippers while you swim,” adds Parade.

Healthline says that “Swimming is a fun way to lose weight and get in shape. Harvard Health estimates that a 155-pound (70-kg) person burns approximately 216 calories per half-hour of swimming. How you swim appears to affect how many calories you burn. One study on competitive swimmers found that the most calories were burned during the breaststroke, followed by the butterfly, backstroke, and freestyle. One 12-week study in 24 middle-aged women found that swimming for 60 minutes 3 times per week significantly reduced body fat, improved flexibility, and reduced several heart disease risk factors, including high total cholesterol and blood triglycerides.”

“It can be hard to be motivated to work out if your knees are achy or your back hurts. If you’re in that boat, swimming is an ideal exercise. It’s easy on your joints, you’ll use both your upper and lower body, and you’ll get a good cardio workout. You’ll reap the benefits from the resistance of the water, too. If you swim for a half-hour a few times a week, you’ll lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. It’ll also bring down your bad cholesterol and blood pressure,” notes WebMD.

5. Walk/Jog/Run

“Studies show walking can increase cardiovascular fitness and reduce heart disease and stroke risk, according to the American Heart Association. What’s more, walking can help reduce visceral body fat (fat stored within the abdominal cavity) regardless of the pace at which a person moves. In fact, a 2022 study in Nutrients found total body fat is lost by walking at all speeds, although a slower pace over a long distance and duration is initially more effective for people with overweight. Start by simply lacing up your sneakers. Taking a walk around the block to get some air, meeting a colleague for a walking meeting and exploring your local city on foot can all effectively support your weight loss journey,” says Forbes.

Man running outside
Man jogging (Photo by Jane Sundried on Unsplash)

As a step up from walking, WebMD recommends jogging. “Jogging is an aerobic exercise — it uses oxygen. This can help you lose weight. A good jog can also raise something called your metabolic rate for up to 24 hours. So, you’ll be in fat-burning mode even after you’ve crossed your daily finish line. Done regularly, jogging can help boost your metabolism for a long period of time.”

Women’s Health relays that running might not be for beginners. “A great exercise for weight loss, running improves your cardiovascular health, burns calories and increases stamina. However, it’s not that beginner friendly. ‘It helps to burn harmful visceral fat, commonly known as belly fat,’ says PT and CEO of Peak Performance Health, Richard Puplampu. But, and this is important, going out and trying to run for 30 or 40 minutes without proper training won’t do you much good. Instead, stick to a plan and work your way up.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.

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