Me, you, and many others have at one point or another asked the question.. “What’s the best exercise for fat loss?”.
We all seem to want results now and NOT tomorrow. And only the “best exercise” is going to produce that.
Almost anything you want can be delivered to your door in a relatively short period of time. This hasn’t favored our ability to be patient and wait for the things that we want.
Our lack of patience tends to lead us to seek out workouts that claim to burn the most calories.
Strategies that will turn us into “fat burning machines”.
The TRUTH, however, is that “best” is a relative term. So, looking for what was best for another is usually not the right path.
Think about it, just because it was best for THEM does not mean it will be best for YOU.
What is the Best Exercise for Fat Loss
Truly, the “best” exercise for fat loss is that which you enjoy doing and will stick with long-term!
Let me explain…
The key in losing weight is to create a caloric deficit through decreased energy intake and/or increased energy expenditure.
Put another way, we need to either eat less, move more, or both.
Moving more can be either through exercise or physical activity. Either will help us increase energy expenditure and therefore burn more calories.
But is burning calories the ONLY thing that matters for exercising for fat loss?
Absolutely not! Not unless you’re just losing weight for an specific event and don’t mind putting the weight back on.
But for those of us who want to keep the lost weight off, we need to keep this increased energy expenditure.
In other words, we have to continue the exercise long-term. Or at least something sufficiently similar.
Let me throw some CRUCIAL words at you that are relevant in every aspect of fat loss.
Sustainability. Enjoyment. Consistency.
They all kind of intertwine. If something isn’t enjoyed it likely won’t be sustainable. Nor are you likely to be consistent in doing it.
Therefore, the best exercise for fat loss is that which you enjoy and will keep doing.
And what will you be most likely to consistently do?
Something that you enjoy doing, right!
Are you starting to see why “how many calories you burn” is not the most important aspect?
Think about it, a workout that burns 1,000 calories may seem like the perfect solution. But it will do very little for you in the long-term if you don’t enjoy it.
Lack of enjoyment leads to poor consistency. And poor consistency equals poor long-term results, i.e, you put the weight back on because you are no longer expending enough energy.
So, if you don’t like doing something, don’t do it! Don’t force yourself to walk on the treadmill just because some misinformed trainer told you it was “the best exercise for fat loss”.
If you hate walking on the treadmill, DO NOT use it as a weight loss tool!
If you can’t stand a form of resistance exercise (such as weight lifting), try calisthenics (or vice versa)!
If you love jump roping, jump rope!
The key is increasing energy expenditure, right? And doing so consistently.
So, you need to prioritize the sustainability of the exercise over “how many calories it burns”.
Too many search for “the best exercise for fat loss” not realizing that there is no answer that fits everyone.
Again, best is a relative term. I have tried many different types of cardio and the only one I have stuck with consistently is boxing.
I liked the exercise bike for a while, but never enough to keep doing it consistently.
It helped me lose a few pounds in the short-term sure.
But if I hadn’t adopted another form of cardio, I would of ended up right back where I started.
The same goes for resistance training.
I knew I had to resistance train if I wanted to improve my body composition and not just “lose weight”.
So I started weight lifting.
However, I really didn’t like free weights. I tried out body weight training (calisthenics) and fell in love with it.
You have to test out different forms of exercise until you find one that suits YOU.
One that YOU truly ENJOY doing and therefore will KEEP DOING.
“An important point is that it does not matter what type of physical activity is performed: Sports, planned exercise, household or yard work, or occupational tasks are all beneficial. The key factor is total energy expenditure; if that is constant, improvements in fitness and health will be comparable.”. (1)
“The key factor is total energy expenditure..”
Now, would it be ideal to have a solid mix of resistance, cardio, flexibility, and mobility training?
Sure, but the initial goal is to get moving consistently in a way which you enjoy.
That is the best exercise for fat loss!
The key point is that moving more increases energy expenditure and energy expenditure influences the energy balance.
If a type of exercise can help shift you into a negative energy balance, it’ll help you lose weight!
Whether or not it will help you keep that weight off (or continually increase energy expenditure) depends on whether or not you enjoy it!
Key Focus Points:
- Best is a relative term. Don’t worry about what someone says is the “best exercise”, just find a type of physical activity that you enjoy and can see yourself continuing long-term. Whether participating in a hobby such as tennis, basketball, flag football, or gardening for 30 minutes everyday, just be active!
- Though generally I believe the most effective exercise program should consist of a mix of strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility/mobility training, physical activity (in any form) IS KEY!! Worry first about getting accustomed to being more active. You can worry about perfecting your regimen later down the road.
- An exercise program is of little to no value if it CANNOT BE SUSTAINED. And because any physical activity influences energy expenditure and energy expenditure directly influences body weight, just moving more would be beneficial to our health and/or body composition.
Some advice on exercise:
- Start slow and make gradual and consistent improvements! One of the biggest mistakes people make is going too fast. Slowly and strategically add exercise sessions each week. Jumping right into 5, 60 minute sessions a week is usually going too quickly so try something such as one to two 30 minute sessions a week or three to five 10-15 minute sessions a week. Those or something similar, would be much better starting points.
- Aim for a SUSTAINABLE plan that includes a mix of resistance, cardio, and flexibility training. You can do this by mixing these three (or 2 of them into the same session). Resistance exercise followed by 10-20 minutes of stretching. Or resistance exercise followed by 10-20 minutes of walking. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all plan. Find the best way for YOU to develop include each of these types into your weekly regimen.
- Do NOT neglect resistance training! Aim for at least 2-3 days a week. You can start with just 1 session and increase frequency and duration as you progress forward.
- Change things up when you need to! If you find yourself being inconsistent and going back to your old habits, change things up. Continue to evaluate what works and what doesn’t, what you enjoy and what you do not. Remember the “most effective” exercise regimen is the one YOU enjoy and can continue long-term.
- Always consult your doctor/physician before altering your exercise regimen and/or physical activity level.
Whether regarding exercise, diet, or any other aspect of health and fitness, best and worst are relative terms.
Don’t stress yourself out trying to find special workouts. Nor those that claim to be the “best exercise for fat loss”. As you’ve learned today, there isn’t one!
Instead, always remember that the best exercise is that which you enjoy and can continue long-term.
The key to losing weight is a caloric deficit (i.e, expending more calories than you take in).
Exercise and/or physical activity is one of the ways we can influence the “energy out” part of the equation.
The more we move, the more calories we burn.
So, if you want to lose fat and keep it off…
Keep it simple and move more in a way that you enjoy!
I hope that you enjoyed this article and find it helpful in achieving your weight loss goals.
Please feel free to like, share, and/or comment!
Best of luck with your weight loss goals!