I'm a Trainer, and These Are My 8 Favorite Exercises For Losing Fat and Building Muscle
As you've more than likely already heard, there's no quick scheme to losing weight. It takes a lot of dedication, consistency, and hard work to achieve your weight-loss goals. Everyone's weight-loss journey will look different, and if you're wanting to incorporate strength training into your routine to lose weight — which I encourage you do — there are a few exercises you should absolutely do. And one type of exercise in particular — compound exercises.
Compound exercises work more groups of large muscles, like squats and push-ups, eliciting a greater energy expenditure to help your body burn more calories and body fat. You don't have to do these moves every day, but incorporating them into your strength-training program will allow you to lose fat and build muscle simultaneously.
Dumbbell Walking Lunges
- Stand upright, feet together, with 10-pound dumbbells at your side. Take a controlled step forward with your left leg, lowering your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to 90-degree angles. Your back knee should point toward but not touch the ground, and your front knee should be directly over your ankle.
- Press your left heel into the ground, and push off with your right foot to bring your right leg forward, stepping with control into a lunge on the other side. This completes one repetition.
- Lower into a crouching squat with your hands on the floor.
- Do a squat thrust by jumping your feet back into a plank position.
- Do one basic push-up, bending the elbows and then straightening back to plank.
- Jump the feet forward to the hands and come into a squat.
- Do an explosive jump straight up, getting as much height as you can.
- This counts as one rep.
Hex Bar Deadlift
- Load the hex bar with the weight of your choice. If you're new to the move, start by just using the bar without any additional weight.
- Stand in the center of the hex bar with your feet hip-width apart.
- Bend at your hips and knees as you grab the handles of the hex bar. Raise your hips up slightly, keeping your back flat, to create tension in the back of your legs (your hamstrings will feel tight).
- Keeping your back flat and shoulders relaxed, drive your heels through the ground as you stand straight up.
- Squeeze your glutes at the top of the lift to ensure you get full hip extension.
- Continue to grasp the handles as you lower the weight to the ground with control. Be sure to keep your chest open and your back flat. This counts as one repetition.
- Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart, holding a dumbbell at shoulder level with palms facing inward.
- Slowly bend your knees as if you were going to sit in a chair, keeping all the weight in your heels. Don't let your knees move beyond your toes, and don't let your knees roll out or in. Squat down as low as you can, keeping your head and chest lifted, your spine long, and your shoulders relaxed. Keep your arms steady as you lower down.
- Press through your heels and slowly straighten your legs to stand up, completing one rep.
- Stand holding a pair of medium-weight dumbbells in each hand, arms at your sides, with your knees slightly bent.
- Keeping your arms straight and knees slightly bent, slowly bend at your hip joint (not your waist) and lower the weights as far as possible without rounding your back, which should remain straight.
- Now squeeze your glutes to slowly pull yourself up (don't use your back). This counts as one rep.
Dumbbell Squat Press
- Stand with your legs just slightly wider than hip-distance apart, arms raised to shoulder height with elbows bent, holding weights by your ears.
- Bend your knees as if you were sitting in a chair, keeping weight on your heels.
- Press the dumbbells overhead as you straighten your knees to return to standing. This counts as one rep.
- Lean forward and bend both knees, remembering to keep a flat back.
- Extend your arms so they are straight. Lift the dumbbells straight up to chest level, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do. Be sure to keep your elbows in and pointed upward. Don't arch your back.
- Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position to complete one rep.
- Start in a plank position with your arms and legs straight, shoulders above your wrists.
- Take a breath in, and as you exhale, bend your elbows out to the sides and lower your chest toward the ground. Stop as soon as your shoulders are in line with your elbows. Inhale to straighten your arms. This counts as one rep.
- If this is too difficult, do this exercise with your knees on the floor.