If losing fat is near the top of your fitness goals, you may be wondering how to burn fat as efficiently as possible.
And while fitness isn’t the only factor when it comes to fat loss — nutrition and sleep habits both play a role, too — there are definitely a few ways to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workouts.
Here are eight tips to help you maximize fat loss.
1. Don’t Skip Strength Training
When you think of the best fat burning workouts, cardio may be the first thing that comes to mind. But strength training should also be a priority.
Cody Braun, CPT and NASM performance enhancement specialist, shares a few key ways strength training can help with fat loss:
- Building muscle can help raise your metabolism by utilizing more calories to sustain the metabolically active tissue (a.k.a. muscle).
- “As you lift weights, your body is breaking down muscle, and the recovery process requires energy — so that means you’re burning calories even after your workout session,” Braun says.
- When you perform compound exercises that incorporate multiple muscle groups, your body needs to provide blood and oxygen to those muscles, which elevates your heart rate and allows you to burn more calories, he adds.
2. Lift Heavy
Nope, you don’t need to worry about bulking up. And heavy lifting may be more effective when it comes to fat loss.
“Hypertrophy training — which uses volume as its primary component — allows your body to build more muscle mass, which requires calories to sustain,” Braun says.
“Using lighter weights can allow you to do more work over a longer period of time, however using heavier weight for less reps will engage the bigger muscle fibers that have a higher propensity to grow,” he adds.
3. Get Your Heart Rate Up
The calorie burn you get from a cardio workout is still crucial when you’re looking to burn fat.
“Cardio workouts focus on elevating the heart rate for an extended period of time, which means you’ll burn more calories during the workout than strength training alone,” Braun says.
4. Try a HIIT Workout
Not a fan of jogging on the treadmill? Here’s a good excuse to skip it: High-intensity interval training — alternating between short bursts of activity at least 80% or higher of your maximum heart rate and brief periods of rest — has been shown to be the most efficient way to burn fat, Braun says.
“High-intensity intervals can help burn more calories in a shorter amount of time because even as you’re recovering between sets, your body burns calories,” he adds.
Just keep in mind, HIIT isn’t for everyone. “If you’re not ready for high-intensity training, focus on lower-intensity, endurance-based cardio workouts to maximize your caloric burn,” Braun says.
5. Opt for Circuit Training
Circuit training is another great way to mix up your workouts and burn fat. Like HIIT, circuit training involves alternating between activity and rest, but the intensity of each circuit varies.
“Circuit training is a great option that limits rest time and focuses on cycling multiple exercises per set in order to increase the work-to-rest ratio,” Braun says. “This has been shown to increase the immediate caloric burn as well as build muscle which will help you burn fat over time.”
6. Do the Tough Stuff First
To make your workout more efficient, Braun says, prioritize high-intensity work first.
“That means you should perform your sprints or high-intensity lifts such as cleans, thrusters, or heavy squats before your accessory lifts and slower-paced cardio,” he says.
7. Mix Strength and Cardio
So which is the best workout for burning fat: strength or cardio? Your best bet is to opt for a mix of both.
“A good workout program incorporates both strength and cardio,” Braun says.
Take the guesswork out by trying #mbf Muscle Burns Fat and #mbfa Muscle Burns Fat Advanced — these workout programs incorporate strength training and cardio for a total-body workout that helps you build muscle and burn fat.
8. Stick With It
“The number one ingredient for fat loss is consistency,” Braun says. “It takes time for us to put on body fat, so it will take just as long — if not longer — to work on getting rid of it. There are times you’ll get discouraged in your weight loss journey, but you have to trust the process and give the plan time to work.”