10 Best Exercises for Weight Loss

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A fit woman in bright pink workout attire holds a kettlebell in her right hand against a vibrant orange and pink gradient background. She is wearing a white sports bra and appears strong and focused, exemplifying strength training for fitness.

Exercise, exercise, exercise – I’m sure you’ve heard from many people in your life that you must exercise regularly, especially when you want to lose weight.

But what should you actually do? And more importantly, which exercises are the best for weight loss?

Let’s do a rundown of my favorites.

1. Running

Jogging or running is great for weight loss because it helps you burn a lot of calories in a short time.

When you jog or run, your body uses up energy to move your legs, arms, and whole body forward.

This energy comes from the food you eat and the fat stored in your body. As you move, your heart beats faster to pump more blood, and you breathe harder to get more oxygen.

All of this work uses up calories, which can lead to weight loss if you’re burning more calories than you’re eating.

Running is especially good at burning belly fat, which is a dangerous kind of fat that can cause health problems.

Plus, when you jog or run regularly, your body gets better at using fat for energy, even when you’re not exercising.

This means you might keep burning extra calories for hours after you finish your run.

As an added bonus, running can build muscle in your legs, and more muscle helps you burn more calories all day long, even when you’re just sitting around.

So, by jogging or running regularly, you’re not only burning calories during the exercise but also setting up your body to keep burning more calories throughout the day, which can really help with weight loss over time.

2. Cycling

Cycling is a fantastic exercise for losing weight, and it’s all because of how it makes your body work. When you cycle, you’re pedaling away, right?

This pedaling action makes your leg muscles push hard, and to do this, they need energy.

Now, where does this energy come from?

It comes from the food you eat, but when you’re cycling a lot, your body starts to use up the stored fat as fuel, and that’s how you lose weight.

Here’s the science part: when you’re cycling, your heart rate goes up, and you start breathing faster.

This means your body is using more oxygen to meet the energy demands of your muscles.

The more oxygen used, the higher the number of calories burned. Burning calories is key to weight loss.

Plus, cycling is a low-impact exercise, which means it’s easier on your joints compared to running or jumping.

So, you can do it for longer periods, burn more calories, and it’s less likely to cause injuries.

Also Read: Is Recumbent Bike Good For Weight Loss?

3. Swimming

When you swim, your body has to work hard to move through the water, which creates resistance. This resistance makes your muscles work more than they would on land, burning more calories in the process.

Also, swimming uses almost all the major muscle groups in your body at once – your arms, legs, back, and core are all active, which means you’re burning calories all over.

But here is the kicker, different swimming strokes can change how many calories you burn. Look at the chart below for your reference.

Swim StrokeIntensity LevelCalories Burned Per Hour (150lbs)
BreaststrokeLight to moderate379 calories
BreaststrokeModerate to vigorous737 calories
BackstrokeLight to moderate476 calories
BackstrokeModerate to vigorous680 calories
Crawl/FreestyleLight to moderate594 calories
Crawl/FreestyleModerate to vigorous716 calories
ButterflyLight to moderate748 calories
ButterflyModerate to vigorous988 calories
Treading waterModerate272 calories
Non-lap swimmingLight408 calories

What I personally like about swimming as an exercise is that being in the water helps support your body weight, making it easier on your joints compared to exercises like running.

This means that anyone, anyone regardless of their bodily limitation can exercise on water.

4. Burpees

Burpees are a high-intensity, full-body exercise that combines a squat, plank, push-up, and jump into one rapid movement.

The reason this is one of the best exercises for weight loss is that burpees burn a lot of calories while you’re doing them.

They work multiple large muscle groups at once, which requires a lot of energy. But the benefits don’t stop when your workout ends.

Burpees also help build muscle mass throughout your body. Think of it as doing a mix of jump squats and push-ups all at once.

Your body needs to adapt to these demands, and it does so by building and strengthening muscles in the areas that are working hard during the exercise.

This muscle growth is key to long-term weight loss. When you gain muscle, your body’s energy needs increase.

Even when you’re not exercising, those new muscles require more calories to maintain themselves.

If you’re eating a diet with fewer calories than you need (a caloric deficit), your body has to find that extra energy somewhere.

It turns to your stored fat, breaking it down to fuel these new energy demands.

This means you’re burning more fat even when you’re not actively exercising, making burpees an excellent choice for sustainable weight loss.

5. High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training, often called HIIT for short, is a popular and effective way to exercise for weight loss.

It’s a type of workout where you switch between doing very hard, fast exercises and easier, slower exercises or rest periods.

For example, you might run as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then walk slowly for a minute, and keep repeating this pattern.

The idea is to push your body really hard for short bursts, then give it a quick break before pushing hard again.

This method can help you burn a lot of calories in a short time, boost your metabolism (how fast your body uses energy), and improve your fitness level quickly.

HIIT workouts can include many different exercises like running, jumping, or bodyweight movements, and they usually don’t take very long – often just 15 to 30 minutes.

Many people like HIIT because it’s challenging, time-efficient, and can be done with little or no equipment.

It’s considered one of the best exercises for weight loss because it keeps burning calories even after you finish working out.

6. Resistance Training

This is all about providing resistance to your muscles, whether you choose to do that using bands at home or by lifting dumbbells and barbells in a gym.

The choice is completely up to you.

The way it’s good for weight loss is this: Let’s say you’re lifting a dumbbell to do a bicep curl exercise.

You’re putting increasing demand on that bicep muscle to complete the exercise.

The result is that those muscles will experience micro-tears, but over time as you do this, those muscles will get stronger and bigger, resulting in an increased energy demand for the body.

Let’s say you keep at your resistance training for 6 months to a year.

You’ll have built a decent amount of muscle in your body.

This will result in you having a faster metabolism, and you’ll have to worry less and less about whether you should be eating that donut.

Now your body will be able to use that extra sugar from the donut as energy because of these new muscles, instead of it being stored as fat as was the case before you started resistance training.

7. Jump Rope

Jump rope is a simple yet highly effective exercise for weight loss. It’s an activity many of us enjoyed as children, but it’s also a serious workout that can help adults burn calories and shed pounds.

When you jump rope, you’re using many muscles in your body at once – your legs are constantly moving, your arms are swinging the rope, and your core is engaged to keep you balanced.

This full-body workout means you’re burning a lot of energy in a short time. Jump rope is also great because it’s a high-intensity exercise, which means it gets your heart rate up quickly and keeps it there, helping to boost your metabolism.

Plus, it’s a low-cost option that doesn’t require much space or equipment – just a rope and a small area to jump in.

You can do it almost anywhere, indoors or outdoors, making it a very convenient exercise for people with busy schedules.

As you get better at jumping rope, you can try different techniques to make it more challenging and keep your body guessing.

Overall, jump rope is an excellent choice for weight loss because it’s fun, efficient, and can be easily adapted to different fitness levels.

8. Stair Climbing

Stair climbing is a great exercise for weight loss that’s easy to understand and do. It’s simply walking or running up stairs, which you can find in many buildings or outdoor areas.

This activity works your legs, especially your thighs and calves, and also gives your heart and lungs a good workout.

When you climb stairs, you’re lifting your body weight against gravity, which burns a lot of calories.

This makes it an effective way to lose weight. Stair climbing can be done almost anywhere there are stairs, like at home, in office buildings, or even at parks with steps.

You can start slowly by walking up a few flights and gradually increase your speed and the number of stairs you climb.

It’s a versatile exercise because you can adjust how hard you work based on your fitness level – you can take it easy by walking slowly or challenge yourself by running up the stairs.

Plus, it doesn’t require any special equipment, just a sturdy pair of shoes.

Many people find stair climbing a convenient way to fit exercise into their daily routine, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work.

9. Pilates

Pilates is all about slow, controlled movements to help tone your body.

It’s not like running or jumping around; instead, you do exercises that focus on your core muscles – that’s the area around your belly and back.

But it’s not just your core that gets a workout; your arms and legs will feel it too!

So, how does Pilates help with weight loss? Well, even though it’s not as intense as some other workouts, it still helps you build lean muscle.

Pilates also helps with your posture, which means you’ll stand and sit straighter.

Pilates classes can be different; some use mats and your body weight, while others use special machines called reformers.

Either way, you’re working against resistance, which is what helps build that muscle. It’s a bit like strength training but in a gentler way.

And because it’s low-impact, it’s great for people who can’t do high-impact exercises because of pain or injuries.

10. Yoga

Yoga is a type of exercise that involves moving your body into different poses and positions while focusing on your breathing.

It’s been around for thousands of years and comes from India. When it comes to weight loss, yoga can be helpful in a few ways.

First, it burns calories, though not as many as more intense exercises like running.

But yoga also helps build muscle, which can boost your metabolism. It can make you more aware of your body and breathing, which might help you make healthier food choices.

Yoga is also great for reducing stress, which is important because stress can lead to overeating.

Some types of yoga, like power yoga or hot yoga, are more intense and can burn more calories.

Even gentler forms of yoga can help with weight loss by improving flexibility, balance, and overall fitness.

Plus, many people find yoga enjoyable, which means they’re more likely to stick with it as part of a regular exercise routine.

Also Read: What Not To Do When Exercising For Weight Loss

Can You Lose Weight Just By Doing Exercises?

The answer is no. While exercise is very good for your health and can help burn calories, losing weight is mostly about balancing the energy you take in (from food and drinks) with the energy you use up (through daily activities and exercise).

Just exercising without watching what you eat might not lead to weight loss for most people.

This is because it’s quite easy to eat back the calories you burn through exercise, especially if you feel hungrier after working out.

Also, exercise alone might not create a big enough calorie deficit (using more energy than you take in) to cause significant weight loss.

That’s why it is recommended to combine regular exercise with a healthy, caloric deficit diet for the best weight loss results.

However, exercise is still crucial for overall health, maintaining weight loss, and improving how your body looks and functions even if it won’t help you lose weight on its own.

Also Read: How Much Weight is Good For You?


In the end, the best exercise for weight loss is one you’ll stick with. Whether it’s walking, swimming, or lifting weights, find something you enjoy.

Mix up your workouts to avoid boredom and work different muscles. Remember, exercise is just part of the picture.

Eating healthy foods and getting enough sleep is also key. Start slow, be patient, and don’t give up.

With time and effort, you can reach your weight loss goals. The most important thing is to get moving and make exercise a regular part of your life.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission for purchases made through links at no extra cost to you. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Rahul is a professional nutritionist certified by the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and a personal trainer certified through the American Council of Exercise (ACE). He has a special interest in the science of nutrition and how it can impact the body.

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