Daray Hill is a personal trainer on Fyt, the nation’s largest personal training service that makes fitness under the expert guidance of an in-person (or virtual), certified fitness professional convenient and accessible for anyone.
Strength training is one of the best ways to lose weight. Not only does strength training speed up your metabolism, it assists in muscle development. It is great for burning off fat while simultaneously becoming stronger.
My top exercises for weight loss are barbell squats, barbell deadlifts, dumbbell step ups, push-ups, barbell bent over rows, planks and burpees. First, practice the weighted exercises without weights before adding them in. The importance of practicing the exercises unweighted is to prevent injuries by ensuring the correct form is being used.
Lunges are a great exercise to increase strength in the lower body while burning off fat. It will get your heart rate up and increase your mobility. Lunges focus on the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and core.
How to perform alternating lunges:
Start in a standing position with your feet hip distance apart. Embrace your core and keep your back straight and begin to step your right foot back until both legs are at a 90 degree angle. Engage both legs to maximize the exercise. Lift your right foot back up until both legs are in a standing position and repeat on the opposite side to complete one rep. Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Bonus tip: hold dumbbells in your hands to add weight to the lunges.
The deadlift is one of the best exercises to add to your regime. Not only will it get your metabolism going, but it will also help with your posture. This exercise recruits most of the muscles in the lower back, legs and core.
How to perform a deadlift:
Place dumbbells or barbells on the floor in front of your toes. Keep your back straight, slight bend in the knees and hinge forward. Lift the weights until they reach your hip to complete one rep. Make sure to squeeze your glutes and hamstrings as you lift to really engage those muscles. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.
Step-ups effectively target the entire lower body. It also targets upper body muscles if you load this exercise with dumbbells. This exercise is excellent for increasing endurance in the lower and upper body.
How to perform a step-up:
Use a box that is about knee length and place it in front of you. Start by stepping your right leg onto the box and use the muscles in your entire right leg to lift your left leg up, without placing the left leg on the box. Slowly lower your left leg to the floor to complete one rep. The key is to hinge slightly forward as you step up while engaging the muscles of your leg that is doing the step-up. Repeat 3 sets of 12 reps on both sides.
One exercise that goes under the radar is push-ups. We always think of lower body exercise for weight loss, but training the upper body is also important. Push-ups are a well-rounded exercise that challenges the upper body and core. The exercise can be combined with a lower body exercise as a superset to get your heart rate up.
How to perform a push-up:
Start off on all fours and extend your legs straight back to achieve a plank position. Keep your core engaged throughout the entirety of the exercise. Once you’re in a plank, begin to bend the elbow until your chest is almost touching the floor and then push back up into a plank to complete one rep. Repeat for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
Another one of my favorite exercises is bent-over rows. I love this upper body exercise because it challenges your core as you work the target muscles.
How to perform bent-over rows:
To begin, stand hip distance apart while holding the barbells or dumbbells with an underhand grip. Bend over until your torso is almost parallel to ground and keep your straight, pointing towards the ground. Make sure your core is engaged and your back is straight. Bend your elbows and squeeze your shoulder blades until your arms are at a 90 degree angle alongside your body. Slowly release your arms to the starting position to complete one rep. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.
Adding planks to your regime is another way to boost your metabolism. Get away from the crunches and recruit the entire core with this exercise. They are an excellent addition to a well-rounded routine.
How to perform a plank:
Start off on all fours and extend your legs straight back to achieve a plank. Make sure your hands are aligned with your shoulders and keep your core engaged. Repeat 3 sets of 30 second reps.
Burpees are an excellent fat-burning exercise that will increase your metabolism throughout the day. This full-body exercise works most major muscle groups while helping build your cardiovascular system. It is a great exercise to add to the end of your workout.
How to perform a burpee:
Start in a standing position, feet hip distance apart. Bend your knees to squat down until your hands are planted on the ground. Once your hands are stern on the ground, jump (or walk) your legs back to achieve a plank position. At this point you can include a push-up or jump your feet back towards your hands and rise up to stand. When you’re in a standing position add in a jump for some extra cardio to complete one rep. Repeat 3 sets of 6-8 reps.