When someone asks me…
“Yuri, what are the best fat burning exercises I can do to lose belly fat or overall body fat?”…
I give them the same response I’m about to give you.
It’s all about doing BIG movements and that means doing exercises that involve the BIGGEST muscles in your body…
So pay close attention if you want to lose belly fat, get rid of your love handles, lose weight, or anything else that has to do with burning fat, toning your body, and general weight loss.
If you want any of these results, then you need to be spending more of your time doing leg exercises and less time (or none at all) doing ab crunches.
Ab crunches do nothing!
They don’t burn fat because they simply engage too small a muscle group to have any metabolic fat burning effect.
On the other hand, leg exercises WILL help you burn fat. And that means fat everywhere on your body. You cannot spot reduce, but doing exercises that involve a lot of muscle will consume more oxygen, require more energy, and thus burn more calories.
You burn more fat and build great strength, all at once.
Without a doubt, squats are the most fundamental lower body exercise. If you’re into sports, squats are a must since they mimic the exact movement patterns of jumping and sprinting. The more you can squat, the more powerful of an athlete you will be.
Squats are also hugely beneficial for burning fat since they recruit ALL of your lower body (and core) muscles. Need I say more?
Plus, if you want to firm up your thighs and get buns of steel then you can put away the Cindy Crawford workouts and start doing more squats – with HEAVY WEIGHTS and good form. Nothing will get you stronger, firmer, and slimmer than squats…nothing!
Actually, this exercise might…
2. Front Squats
This is probably my favourite lower body and CORE exercise. I even prefer front squats to traditional back squats because the load is more favourably on the front of your shoulders, which lowers the stress on your low back.
Front squats are probably the most challenging core exercise you will ever attempt, especially if using a suitable heavy weight. The abdominal/core engagement that is required to maintain a neutral and strong torso during this exercise is massive.
Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think. Better yet, do a few ab crunches and see how that’s feel. Then, do a few heavy front squats and tell me your core isn’t working 1000x harder!
Remember, the more muscle working, the more calories you burn!
3. Forward-Backward Lunges
Everyone’s seen the traditional lunge, right?
Well, in my workouts, I kick things up a notch (or 2 or 3) by doing forward-backward lunges. This is essentially a lunge where you step backward, drop down into your lunge, and then push forward into a forward lunge. Then push backwards into a reverse lunge, and repeat.
Sounds a little confusing, I know. But this exercise, when done properly (and without even using any weight), could very well be the MOST challenging leg exercise you ever attempt. You’ll know what I mean within a few seconds as your legs begin to catch fire faster than a Southern Californian forest.
What an amazing exercise.
Once again, if you want glutes of steel, a solid lower back, and a fit body, then deadlifts are a must. And, because they recruit ALL of your lower body muscles, you’ll also be huffing and puffing after just a few reps – assuming you’re using a challenging weight.
And huffing and puffing is a good sign that your body is churning through calories!
5. Glute-Ham Raises
A lot of people sit all day and a result have weak and tight hamstrings. This can eventually lead to lower back problems.
One of the best ways to avoid weak/tight hamstrings is to strengthen them using this exercise. I would have to say that the glute-ham raises will make you realize exactly how weak or strong your hamstrings really are.
Going through the motion, you’ll feel as if your “hammies” are about to pop out of your skin. But as you get stronger, you’ll be amazed at how much easier these get. You’ll also be amazed at how this incredible leg exercise will tighten up your backside.
Alongside deadlifts and the next exercise, this is one exercise I would definitely add to your leg strengthening and fat burning arsenal.
6. Elevated Hip Thrusters
If glute-ham raises are a bit too advanced for you, then elevated hip thrusters will be perfect. Yet another amazing leg exercise that targets the entire backside of your body, which means stronger and firmer glutes, hamstrings, and low back muscles. Yes, yes, and yes!
The coolest part is that you can even do this exercise between your sofa and coffee table – at least that’s what I do when I get bored of sitting on the couch.
I was reminded of just how good step-ups are this morning as I awoke to a set of sore and stiff legs. That’s because last night I did just 2 sets of heavy step-ups. Man, are my legs feeling it today!
Step-ups are like doing 1-leg squats. In fact, many Eastern bloc powerlifters have moved away from exclusively doing back squats to doing more step-ups because of how beneficial they are for developing single leg strength.
Plus, doing a step-up targets your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. I think I’m beginning to sound like a broken record.
Are you starting to get the point?
Lower body exercises (ie. leg exercises) are the absolute BEST way to get strong and BURN FAT.
If you’ve doing upper body exercises like biceps curls, lateral shoulder raises, and ab crunches hoping to “shape and tone”, then please STOP wasting your time and at least add 1-2 of the above exercise into your routine.