Full-body exercises are ideal because they work multiple muscle groups at once. This saves you time and energy. By taking the right approach to losing weight, you can burn fat and build muscle. Which will help you burn more calories, even at rest. Plus, you’ll tone your body and likely start to feel better mentally and physically in the process. Your results depend on the quality of the effort you put into achieving your goals, so be consistent and disciplined in your approach.
Let’s take a look at some of the best weight loss exercises grouped together for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level workouts. For each exercise, do 2 to 5 sets of 6 to 15 repetitions.
8 exercises to lose weight and gain muscle
You can modify this classic strength training exercise to suit your level and target different muscles as needed. Check out some pushup variations for beginners.
Start by lying on your stomach with your legs extended.
Place your palms on the floor directly below your shoulders.
Press into your hands and heels as you lift your chest, torso, and legs off the ground.
Engage your core by holding this position for a second.
Slowly return to the starting position.
You can do lunges with or without weights. Once you’ve perfected your form, you can move on to lunge variations.
From a standing position, step your right foot forward to form a 90 degree angle with your knee, making sure your knee does not go past your ankle.
Position your back knee so that it is parallel to the ground.
Pause before returning your right leg to the starting position.
Do the exercise on the opposite side.
Squats with body weight
Work on perfecting your form with bodyweight squats before moving on to weights. There are many variations of squats to mix up your routine.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides.
Engage your core and expand your chest by pushing your hips back and down as if you were going to sit down.
Pause once your thighs are parallel to the ground.
Press down on your feet to return to the starting position.
The squat with dumbbells
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and place your feet hip-width apart.
Bend your arms so that one end of each weight touches your shoulders.
From there, lower your hips and stand in an almost squat position.
Explosively push through your heels to raise yourself to the starting position.
Chest work with dumbbells
You can also try this exercise one arm at a time.
Lie on your back on a bench (or for extra stability work, an exercise ball).
Place your hands above your chest, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
Extend your arms fully out to the sides, well above the shoulders.
Pause before lowering the weights back to the starting position.
To vary your routine, you can always modify burpees to be easier or harder.
Stand upright with your feet directly below your hips.
Squat down and place your hands on the floor below your shoulders.
Raise your legs into a push-up position.
Push before jumping
Extend your arms above your head and jump explosively.
As soon as you land, come back down to a squat position.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with a barbell in front of your feet.
Slightly lower the hips down and back to pick up the bar.
Push your hips forward to rise to a standing position.
Place the bar slightly below your hips.
Align your spine and bend your knees slightly.
Push the hips back, bend the knees and return to the starting position, lowering the bar to the floor.
To target muscles differently, you can do this exercise using dumbbells, which gives you an extra challenge in terms of shoulder stability and grip.
Lie on your back on a bench.
Place the barbell at chest level, holding it with your hands shoulder-width apart.
Engage your shoulders and core as you push the bar onto the rack before lowering it until it brushes your chest.
On the exhale push the bar explosively back up from the starting position.
How to Create a Weight Loss Workout Routine
Create a routine that helps you set and achieve realistic, safe, and sustainable weight loss goals.
Here are some tips for creating an effective weight loss program:
Aim to exercise for at least 200 minutes per week.
Do physical activity every day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes, rather than doing a few long workouts every week.
Do the most difficult exercises first at the start of each workout.
Increase the intensity of your workouts and go for heavier weights for weightlifting exercises.
Give yourself 24-48 hours to recover between sessions targeting the same muscle groups.
Avoid fatigue and overwork by getting enough rest. This includes at least one full day of rest or light activity each week.
Sleep more when you need to improve your energy level.
Variety of exercises
Change up your workouts at least once a month to avoid boredom and plateauing. This allows you to keep your routine fresh and ensure that you are targeting different muscle groups.
Other types of training
In addition to weightlifting and strength training, do other types of exercise like aerobics, balance, and stretching.
What diet should I follow to lose weight and gain muscle?
Diet and exercise go hand in hand with weight loss. Along with your workout routine, one should follow a healthy diet and reduce your calorie intake.
What is the recommended weight loss diet?
A healthy diet
Choose healthy sources of protein, fiber and healthy fats, and cut down on processed foods containing refined carbohydrates, salt and sugar.
Fruits and vegetables
Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Drink plenty of water, healthy beverages, and unfiltered coffee or green tea to stay hydrated, cleanse your system, and help you feel full and increase your metabolism. Provide healthy drinks such as herbal teas, coconut water and vegetable juices.
Experience intermittent fasting, which consists of cycles of fasting and eating to help you reduce your calorie intake without compromising muscle mass.
Try changing your behavior, such as chewing more slowly, using smaller dishes, and controlling your portion sizes. You can also eat mindfully, without any distractions, and stop eating before you feel full.
Weight loss and muscle gain: patience and regularity
You can achieve your muscle building and weight loss goals if you have the drive, discipline, and willpower to follow a healthy diet and exercise program. Remember that change takes time, so be patient as it may take a few months to see results. To see weight loss results, commit to getting at least 30 minutes of daily exercise and making healthy changes to your diet.
To maintain your results, follow your program even after you start seeing progress. Over time, you’ll feel more confident, healthier, and stronger, which will motivate you to keep going.
Donnelly JE, et al. (2013). Aerobic exercise alone results in clinically significant weight loss for men and women: Midwest exercise trial-2.
Vargo K. (2015). Weight lifting for weight loss.
Willoughby D, et al. (2018). Body composition changes in weight loss: Strategies and supplementation for maintaining lean body mass, a brief review.