While I am about to recommend three specific exercises for burning fat, I don’t want to put down other exercises. In fact, if you really care about health and fitness, you should have a varied workout routine which includes cardio, as well as other strength building exercises than just these three.
However, unless you are a professional bodybuilder or full-time gym rat, your time and resources, including your energy, is probably not unlimited. When it comes to health, fitness, weight loss, AND burning body fat, you want the most bang for your exercise buck.
That’s where these three exercises come in. They not only work big muscle groups, giving you the max overall fitness of the strength building exercises, but, they also enhance some of the other, less productive exercises.
First, let’s take a look at just a couple of those “less productive” exercises; the curl and the press.
While big biceps (curl) and big triceps (press and/or triceps extension) may look impressive, when it comes to the effect these muscles have on overall fat burning, you’re looking at small change. In fact, I would DO, but not CONCENTRATE ON, these types of exercises, unless, of course, I wanted to be a competitive body builder. They will make your arms look fancy, but, even they lack that little something that really builds a lot of lean muscle and helps burn body fat.
So, what ARE the magic three?
They are the basic squat, bench press, and rowing motion (or lat pull down).
What these three have in common is that:
They target the largest muscle groups
They also target smaller, assisting muscle groups
They allow you to use heavier weights
They can be done almost anywhere in one form or another
When done with resistance bands, they can also strengthen your core
In fact, while the basic strength training workout is built around about six exercises, these three alone will work almost every muscle in your body while building more lean muscle mass, more easily, than the others.
Now, I am NOT saying to skip the others, I am just saying to focus on these if you want to burn body fat with strength training while getting the maximum health and fitness return for your efforts.
Think about this:
The squat targets the large quadriceps muscle in the front of the thigh, and the large (no offense intended) gluteus maximus, or, as it is more commonly referred to… your butt.
These are some huge muscles and respond quite well to strength training. Lean muscle becomes an internal furnace which burns fat, and these are a couple of biggies. There are a huge number of assisting muscles during the squat, including just about any muscle associated with the core, and, the calves and ankles are involved as well.
Squats can usually be done, or you can fairly easily train to do them, with pretty heavy weights. Rule of thumb, heavier weight means more fat burned during the exercise. Bigger muscles means more fat burned after the exercise.
Even squats done without weights are still using some big muscle groups, but you can easily add weight almost anywhere. On the road? Do squats with your suitcase or one of the chairs.
The bench press targets the pectoral muscles, which is a pretty big set of muscles… and pretty strong as well. Most people will find that the chest muscles respond well to strength training. While doing a bench press movement, the arms are exercised, particularly the triceps, as are the muscles of the upper back and shoulders, another bunch of big muscles.
The bench press does normally require a bench to do it properly, but, I find that I can really get in a good set of “bench presses” with some strong resistance bands. In fact, I prefer using resistance bands because, in addition to the other muscles involved, I have to use my core muscles, and leg muscles, to stabilize my body.
If you don’t have resistance bands, weights, or other type of exercise equipment which allows you to do a bench press type exercise, there’s always the old reliable… the push up. If you cannot do a 100% on-the-floor push up, you can start with wall push ups, or doorway push ups, moving your feet farther back for more resistance. Keep working at it, and you will be able to do push ups using a table, counter top, or chair, until you can eventually do them on the floor.
By the way, I really like exercising with resistance bands because I can do almost any exercise I can do with weights or an exercise machine without taking up a lot of space or moving a bunch of equipment around. Also, I can take them with me when I travel and get the same workout in a motel room that I get at home. If there’s a fitness center at the motel, I put in some time on a treadmill or other piece of cardio exercise equipment, or, I take a walk.
Anyway, the third exercise I like to recommend is almost any version of the rowing motion or lat pull down. These work the huge V-shaped latissimus dorsii muscle of the upper back. Again, however, you will also be working the arm muscles and upper shoulder muscles at the same time. Also, if you use resistance bands to do lat pull downs, you will be using your core muscles, and leg muscles, to stabilize your body.
Working these large muscle groups allows you to move more weight in a given time, and build more lean muscle mass, than exercises that produce what could almost be called a cosmetic effect, such as curls and presses. Moving the big weights, and involving the big muscles, will not only burn body fat faster while building up functional strength in the bigger muscle groups of the body.
Yes, it can be great to have the baseball biceps and horseshoe triceps that come with a lot of arm work, but, to get the maximum from the workout you do, whether you want to burn fat faster as you get strong, put these three exercises on the top of your list and work them the hardest.