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10 Best Workouts for Weight Loss

You can’t sweat off a bad diet—but with these routines, you can try.
10 Best Workouts for Weight Loss

When you’re looking to drop lbs, the basic formula is pretty simple: eat less and move more. But, there are obviously ways you can optimize this formula. When it comes to the moving part, “Two types of workouts will burn more calories than the 'traditional' workout,” says Franklin Antoian, personal trainer and founder of the online personal training website, “Endurance-type workouts—think a marathoner or long-distance swimmer—burn a lot of calories, simply because it takes a lot of energy to work out for 2 hours or so.” The other type is a little easier on your schedule: short, high-intensity bouts, which burn calories both during and after, thanks to that metabolism-boosting effect known as the “afterburn.” These 10 workouts—from Antoian and coach Lisa Reed, MS, CSCS, owner of Lisa Reed Fitness in the DC area—get your calorie burn up and your waist size down. Plus, they don't require two hours—except for maybe the last one!

Before your session of choice, Reed recommends a simple dynamic warmup to get your muscles ready and help prevent injury.

Do 25 yards or 20-30 seconds each of:

Skips (traveling or stationary)

Buttkicks (traveling or stationary)

Frankenstein walks/kicks

Walking (or stationary) knee hugs

Walking (or alternating) lunges

Walking (or alternating) lateral lunges

Walkout pushups

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“No gym? No problem. Speed up this circuit of bodyweight exercises to burn calories anywhere, anytime,” says Antoian. Do the circuit of exercises for one minute each four times through, resting for 30 seconds before repeating, for a 30-minute session.

Do 1 minute each of:


Jumping jacks

Forward-backward lunges (30 seconds each leg)

V sit-ups

Side-stepping squats (30 seconds each leg)


Mountain climbers


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“This bodyweight circuit workout raises your body temperature and increases your metabolism,” Reed says. Do the main circuit two or three times through, resting as little as possible. Then finish with the cardio burnout.

Do 30 seconds each of:

Isometric squats


Sumo squat jumps

Wide-hand push-ups

Renegade rows with pushups between

Side plank rotations with reach

Reverse lunges (right)

Reverse lunges (right)

Plank tricep get-ups (right-arm lead)

Plank tricep get-ups (left-arm lead)

Windshield wipers

x2 or x3

Then 30 seconds each of:

Speed squats

Quick feet

Skater jumps

Speed jumping jacks

High-knee stationary sprint


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“If you're short on time and are happy with a basic workout, try this tried-and-true circuit,” Antoian says. Do the whole thing 3 to 5 times through, with little to no rest in between exercises and sets, and use a heavy enough weight that it’s tough to finish the last few reps.


20 leg presses

15 dumbbell squats with shoulder press

15 hamstring curls

15 bench presses

25 cable rows

10 dumbbell bicep curls

10 tricep pressdowns

25 crunches

x3 to x5

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The definition of high intensity, tabatas have you alternating 20 seconds of hard effort with 10 seconds of rest, straight through for four minutes. “The best thing about the Tabata workout is that you can perform these short, intense routines with your own body weight in the comfort of your own home,” Reed says. “Tabata raises your heart rate, pumps up your muscles, and increases your fitness level.” These ones will have you alternating two exercises targeting the same muscle groups, and going from one to the next provides a kickbutt workout in 24 minutes.

Lower-body tabata #1

20 seconds of speed squats

10 seconds rest

20 seconds isometric squat hold

10 seconds rest


Lower-body tabata #2

20 seconds of walking lunges

10 seconds rest

20 seconds of squat jumps

10 seconds rest


Upper-body tabata #1

20 seconds of dumbbell bentover rows

10 seconds rest

20 seconds of dumbbell chest press

10 seconds rest


Upper-body tabata #2

20 seconds of dumbbell bicep curls

10 seconds rest

20 seconds of dumbbell tricep kickbacks

10 seconds rest

Cardio tabata

20 seconds of skater jumps

10 seconds rest

20 seconds of frog jumps

10 seconds rest


Tabata abs

20 seconds of bicycle crunches

10 seconds rest

20 seconds of supermans


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“If you've never incorporated battle ropes into your training, you'll soon find out why they burn so many calories so quickly,” says Antoian. “Repeat this workout four times for an ultra kick-butt 20 minute workout.”

1 minute of rope alternating arm waves

30 seconds of pushups

1 minute of rope double-arm slam jumping waves

30 seconds of bicycle crunches

1 minute of rope outside circles

30 seconds of mountain climbers

30 seconds of rest

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“Training with kettlebells is very beneficial because they improve your body composition, generate total body power, and build strength simultaneously,” says Reed. “Due to how the weight is distributed, kettlebells force your muscles to counterbalance, improving your stability and balance as well.” These exercises should all be performed unilaterally, meaning with one arm at a time, which further engages the core. Go from one move to the next, then rest for a minute or two before repeating the whole thing two more times.

Do 10 reps each arm or leg:

Single-arm swings

Squat to single-arm overhead press

Single-arm bentover rows

Single-leg Russian deadlifts

1-2 minutes rest


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TRX workouts not only increase total body strength to burn more calories throughout the day, but will also increase your heart rate to help improve body composition. In addition, the TRX engages more muscles of your core. With all of your core muscles being worked, you will condition your entire body and get tight lower abs at the same time!

Perform each exercise on the TRX for 30 seconds each:

Set 1:

TRX squat jumps

TRX push-ups

TR pull-ups


Set 2:

TRX reverse lunge to knee up (each side)

TRX tricep extensions

TRX bicep curls



Set 3:

TRX hamstring curls

TRX pike-ups



Set 4:

Side oblique crunches (each side)


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“The combo of sprinting, getting down to do abs, and then jumping as high in the air as you can for the burpees is a sure way to tear through some calories,” Antoian says. Repeat the workout five to 10 times with no rest between exercises and just one minute between rounds.

50-yard sprint

50 sit-ups

50-yard reverse sprint (run backwards)

50 reverse sit-ups

10 burpees

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“A metabolic workout increases your strength and stamina, burns fat, and increases your metabolism to boost energy and weight loss,” Reed says. The secret is not scrimping on the load and going from one exercise to the next with little break. Do each move for 45 seconds with enough weight that you’re pretty wasted as the time runs out—Reed suggests using the same amount on the first four exercises, and the same (lighter) load for the last three. At the end of the circuit, rest for two to three minutes before doing the whole thing another time or even two.

Barbell squat

Barbell push press

Barbell front squat

Barbell bentover row


Barbell skull crushers

Barbell standing bicep curls

Barbell walking lunges

x2 or x3

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We’d be remiss to totally ignore those long-duration workouts Antoian mentioned. “Hit the road, trails, and water for this long-duration calorie-burning workout,” he says. “As a bonus, you'll be prepping yourself for a beginner triathlon.” Take only as long a break as it takes for your to transition between events (swimsuit to biking clothes, etc.).

1. Swim a quarter mile (in a pool, lake, ocean)

2. Bike 10 miles (outdoors or in)

3. Run 3 miles (outdoors or in)

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