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3 Total-Body Home Workouts That Burn Fat – Fast!

home workout

When you think about burning fat, you probably think about exercises such as running, cycling, and the elliptical.

Conversely, when you think about resistance training – such as lifting weights, bodyweight exercises and using a suspension trainer – you probably think about building muscle and getting stronger.

And of course, resistance training does help with that.

But the right type of resistance training is also the best type of exercise for fat loss – even better than cardio. Moreover, this type of exercise can be done in the comfort of your own home with absolutely no equipment.

Now, I know that’s a quite a claim, and I intend to fully back it up, so let’s begin by taking a look at why…

High Intensity Exercise Matters for Fat Loss

Back in the day we realised that proportionally, we burn more calories from fat at lower intensities, and we aptly named this the ‘fat burning zone’. Get on any old-school piece of cardio equipment and you’ll see that the lower heart rate zone is labeled ‘fat burning’.

The idea of a fat-burning zone has its roots in legitimate science. But that science was being looked at through a straw.

Today, we know that we burn many more calories overall when we work out at a higher intensity. Because of this, we also burn more calories from fat than we would in the ‘fat burning zone’ (even though the percentage of calories coming from fat is slightly lower).

High intensity exercise is a more efficient way of burning fat at the time of doing it, and here’s the kicker: this type of exercise also burns a huge amount of calories afterwards.

Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), often referred to as afterburn, measures the energy expended while your body returns to its normal, resting state after a workout. After a high intensity workout, EPOC increases dramatically and can remain elevated for 38 hours or more.

In non-science terms, that means you will continue burning additional calories for over a day after your workout. That’s huge news for fat loss.

It’s worth mentioning that this type of ‘high intensity’ exercise also encapsulates protocols like Tabata, interval training on a bike and beach sprints. All of them are great for fat loss, but we’re looking specifically at high intensity workouts you can do at home.

Taking it a Step Further with Resistance Training

home workouts

When you perform resistance training at a high intensity the resulting exercise is called metabolic resistance training (MRT).

MRT is the best, most intense strategy for building muscle, torching fat, and improving overall physical fitness… all at the same time.

Not only does MRT send EPOC sky-high, MRT also builds muscle, which is more important for fat loss than you might think.

Your body uses energy to break down and remake muscle. It’s constantly being broken down and re-constructed, or synthesized. In fact, all tissues, to one degree or another, are constantly being remade.  It takes about seven days to completely regenerate your skin, and seven years to replace every cell in your skeleton.

What makes muscle special is that you can make more of it – a lot more. In other words, unlike bone and skin cells, muscle generation is, to some extent, within your control. And therefore so is the amount of calories you burn at rest.

When you do MRT, you burn a ton of calories at the time of doing it, additional calories for up to 38 hours, and you build muscle that directly increases your resting energy expenditure. It’s win-win-win.

When compared to traditional cardio (aerobic exercise), MRT (anaerobic exercise) completely blows it out of the water for fat loss. Alwynn Cosgrove, a fitness expert whose opinion I highly respect, wrote a great article discussing all the advantages of resistance training over aerobic exericse for fat loss. Here’s the best bit:

Overweight subjects were assigned to three groups: diet-only, diet plus aerobics, diet plus aerobics plus weights. The diet group lost 14.6 pounds of fat in 12 weeks. The aerobic group lost only one more pound (15.6 pounds) than the diet group (training was three times a week starting at 30 minutes and progressing to 50 minutes over the 12 weeks).

The weight training group lost 21.1 pounds of fat (44% and 35% more than diet and aerobic only groups respectively). Basically, the addition of aerobic training didn’t result in any real world significant fat loss over dieting alone.

Thirty-six sessions of up to 50 minutes is a lot of work for one additional pound of fat loss. However, the addition of resistance training greatly accelerated fat loss results.

I use cardio sparingly with my clients for this very reason. Unless their goal is specifically to increase endurance, they will usually be doing MRT instead.

Putting MRT into Practice

When it comes to physical exercise of any sort, I like this philosophy:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” – Theodore Roosevelt

In an ideal world we would all have permanent access to the best fitness equipment and be able to follow the same routine every day, but if that was always possible then Travel Strong wouldn’t be here.

Unless you’re an athlete who gets paid to exercise for a living, then life will always get in the way. Whether it’s because you travel a lot, look after kids at home, or work crazy hours, keeping your fitness goals on track means knowing how to make the best of a non-perfect situation.

And that’s where the MRT home workouts I have created come in.

If you’re flexible with your workouts, you can get the maximum bang for your buck by simultaneously strengthening your entire body and burning fat regardless of the equipment available to you.

How These Home Workouts Work

These workouts differ from others in that they’re fully interchangeable with each other.

That means if you’re at home and don’t own any equipment then you can do the bodyweight workout, or you could do the dumbbell workout if you live in another home (or have access to a hotel gym) that has some basic fitness equipment.

Taking it a step further, you can even mix and match exercises. So if, for example, you have dumbells and resistance bands at home, you could do:

  • exercise #1 from the dumbbell workout
  • exercise #2 from the resistance band workout
  • exercise #3 from the bodyweight workout
  • exercise #4 from the resistance band workout
  • exercise #5 from the bodyweight workout

As long as you swap the exercise with another that has the same corresponding number you’re good to go.

These workouts are circuits, which means:

  • Performing 1 set of the prescribed number of reps for each exercise with little to no rest (a maximum of 30 seconds) between each move.
  • After you finish the entire circuit, rest 1-2 minutes, and then repeat the whole thing 2 more times (3 circuits total).
  • The entire workout shouldn’t take you any longer than 20 minutes.

Before you jump in, you should do a quick warm-up like the one for the squat challenge or the one in the Beginner Bodyweight Workout (that you get for free when you subscribe).

Bodyweight Home Workout

If you’ve got no equipment whatsoever, don’t fret; you can always use your bodyweight and a few common household objects for a great workout.

This is the easiest of the three workouts (although the inverted row is no joke). But if you know what you’re doing, then you can make modifications to the exercises to increase/decrease the difficulty.

Click on any of the exercises to be taken to a video demonstration!

#ExerciseReps
1Bodyweight Squat8
2Incline Push-Up8
3Hip Thrust8
4Inverted Row8
5Bird Dog8

Resistance Band Home Workout

For this workout you’re going to need some resistance bands.

If you haven’t already got some, I highly recommend them. They’re one of the best pieces of fitness equipment to own because you can take them with you anywhere. They’re lightweight and will fit into almost any bag, meaning you can do this workout at home, in a hotel room, in a playground or anywhere else you can think of.

#ExerciseReps
1Band Front Squat8
2Band-Resisted Push-Up8
3Band-Resisted Glute Bridge8
4Seated Row8
5Reverse Crunch8

Dumbbell Home Workout

If you’re looking for a real challenge, this is it.

Dumbbells make it so much easier to alter the difficulty of the workout to match your capabilities. If you’re struggling to get the target reps with good form, then use a lighter weight. If not, go heavier.

#ExerciseReps
1Split-Squat8
2Floor Press8
3Romanian Deadlift8
4Renegade Rows8
5RKC Plank15 secs

No More Excuses

Honestly, I like going to the gym when I can, but when you’re busy and feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions there are just too many excuses not to go.

It takes too long to get there, it’s over-crowded, you can never get the equipment you want, it’s too expensive, you’re intimidated… I admit that all of these things can make it hard to look forward to a workout, but they’re no reason to stay on the couch.

These home workouts can be done regardless of the equipment available to you and in a fraction of the time it takes to go to the gym. They’re a great starting point and should keep you busy for a long time, but if you really want to kick your fat loss workouts up a notch then Jen Sinkler’s Lift Weights Faster 2 is the best collection of MRT workouts out there.

Jen is one of the best coaches in the business, and is known for the quality of her work. Lift Weights Faster 2 is an update to an already amazing resource, giving you over 180 metabolic workouts. That’s enough workouts for at least 6 months, but in reality LWF2 is a resource you’ll use for years to come.

home workouts

  • Great entry! Shared!

  • GK85

    Nice article Will. Definatly going to include the dumbell version into my workouts 1 time a week before i go do my running

    • Glad you’ve found it useful. Let me know how you get on!

  • wannabe skinny

    Hi will, I’m going to try the dumbbell exercises for four weeks with my heart rate monitor and will also be taking my measurements and see how much I lose

    • Hey there! If you’re going to be sticking with that workout for a while, you’re really going to want to push yourself to do a little better each time. Of course, one way of doing this is using heavier and heavier weights. BUT, your technique might start to break down when you get tired. Instead, you could try to do the same workout (with the same weights) quicker. So, if the workout takes you 20 minutes the first time around, try doing it in 19 minutes next time and so on! Obviously, you’ll need to set a timer for this to work. Let us know how it goes 🙂

  • Susie

    Great article! It makes me think of the old school FIRM videos which have become my primary workouts again. Amazing results, nothing fancy but highly effective. Anna Benson was ahead of her time on the “Aerobics + Weights” for fast results. Check out the “20 Questions about Fitness” video on hulu, YouTube, etc. I am not affiliated with The Firm in any way but became a “Firm Believer” many years ago!!

  • Yova

    Wow, great tips and workouts! Effort = Intensity x Duration so increasing the effort will ultimately maximize the results to your body.These workouts definitely give you the option to do a short, but intense anaerobic workout, maximizing fat burning and saving time! Love the mix match idea, too – constantly doing it with various workouts I find on the net. (a recent interesting discovery of mine I love is this one: http://watchfit.com/exercise/anaerobic-workout/ )

  • Kay

    How many times a week should you do these routines? Or should you do them everyday?

    • Hi Kay,

      I’d recommend doing them every other day.

      Will

  • Lisa Green

    My favorite for training at home are the resistance bands, but if you don’t even have these burpees are great for both cardio and strength

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