Have you ever wondered what the best exercise was for fat loss? I thought about what characteristics a particular exercise needs to have in order to be effective at losing weight, and here is what I came up with.
The Best Exercise Works the Entire Body
Isolation exercises need not apply for this job. Only compound exercises that work several muscle groups at one time have a chance at winning the honors.
Many exercises fit the bill – squats and deadlifts are great compound movements, but they can’t quite hit every muscle group. Because of this, they won’t build a balanced physique if you were to use either of them exclusively.
It Boosts Favorable Hormones
So much of weight loss is about your body’s hormones and the fat-mobilizing chemicals it releases. Nutrition will always be the most important thing when it comes to weight loss. However, exercise is responsible for creating a favorable metabolic environment that is conducive to fat loss.
With that favorable environment, your diet has a much better chance at being effective. The best weight loss exercise would boost testosterone levels (important for women too, maybe even more so than men due to their lower levels) and increase growth hormone – 2 very important fat loss and muscle-building hormones.
It Improves Your Insulin Sensitivity
Your insulin sensitivity tells you how responsive your cells are to insulin. People that are insulin insensitive need more insulin to shuttle the glucose from carbohydrates (and protein via gluconeogenesis) into their cells.
Why is that a problem? Fat cannot be released in the presence of high insulin levels. Insulin is a storage hormone. We want to keep it low. One of the best ways to keep it low is by depleting muscle glycogen stores. For that to happen, the best exercise to lose weight needs to be anaerobic in nature.
It Creates an EPOC Effect
EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, results from the oxygen deficit you created during exercise. The higher the intensity of your exercise, the greater the EPOC effect.
In order to bring your body back to homeostasis, extra oxygen and fuel (fat) are needed for cellular repair. The best exercise to lose weight is going to be high intensity and will create a large oxygen deficit.
It Burns Lots of Calories
It’s no surprise that you need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, but you sure can leave yourself plenty of room for error if you’re burning insane amounts of calories. Some exercises obviously burn more calories than others, but the best exercise will burn more calories in any given time than any other exercise.
It Builds Muscle
Building and maintaining muscle is so important when it comes to achieving your weight loss goals. Muscle burns approximately 5.67 calories per pound per day . The benefits of strength training for weight loss are numerous. However, weight lifting is not the only form of strength training. Any exercise that places maximal resistance upon the muscle has the potential to build muscle.
What is the Best Exercise?
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the best exercise to lose weight is – sprints. No other exercise can claim all of the characteristics listed above. Some can come close, but they are usually lacking in 1 or more traits.
Only sprints work your entire body at 100% intensity for prolonged periods of time. Only sprints can do that while boosting favorable hormones, creating an afterburn effect, improving insulin sensitivity, and building muscle at the same time.
Of course, you must be able to do them safely for them to be effective, but if you can, sprints are the king of all fat burning exercises. Incorporating sprints into a well-designed HIIT program, and combining that with a great diet will give you your best chance at weight loss success.
One final note: you don’t have to do sprints to lose weight. Any exercise that burns calories will help your weight loss endeavors. And more important than anything on this list will be your ability to adhere to your program. If you can’t stick with your exercise, it makes no difference how good that exercise is.