From trying new tools at the gym (hello, kettlebell) to switching up your entire style, changing it up could be good for your body. These quick workouts are both efficient and effective—and you’re bound to find one you enjoy.
We asked athletes, personal trainers and other fitness professionals what workouts were best for weight loss. These workouts are the top picks.
You might be surprised to see strength training on the list, but it does, in fact, help with weight loss—some studies even suggest strength training is more effective than cardio when it comes to losing fat. That’s because muscle is metabolically active tissue, which means that even after you leave the gym, muscle is using more energy (burning more calories) than fat. So, while you’re sweating with weights or bodyweight moves, you’re burning calories, but you’re also burning calories afterward too.
“The absolute best and most efficient workout for weight loss, building strength and improving your metabolism is High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT),” said Vanessa Broers, master trainer at The Barre Code Pittsburgh and owner of health coaching company Sweat and Butter. If you’re short on time but still want a killer workout, HIIT is fast, tough and elicits a great afterburn effect—meaning you’ll continue burning calories even after your workout is over. “The entire workout usually takes about 20 minutes and gives you more metabolic punch than a full hour on the treadmill.”
This style of training is a popular form of HIIT that can be done with any strength or conditioning exercise, making it a great option for slimming down and toning up. The workout doesn’t take long (some last less than 15 minutes), but it’s truly tough. Each part focuses on one exercise for four minutes and in that four minute period you’ll be giving all-out effort for 20 seconds and then resting for ten and repeating. At the end of that four minute period rest and then move on to the next exercise. Usually three or four exercises make up a complete routine.
Easier on your body than pounding the pavement, cycling or spinning is a great cardio workout with major benefits. In addition to getting your heart pumping, biking builds strength, relieves stress and can help shed pounds quickly. Whether it be in the gym (hello Soul Cycle) or the great outdoors, getting in the saddle is good for your body and mind.
Though the kettlebell is certainly not a new tool, there are a lot of people who would never think to use it. But when it comes to building total-body strength, fitting in some cardio and, ultimately, losing weight, it’s tough to argue with the benefits of the simple kettlebell. Build muscle and lose fat with a series of dynamic moves that engage multiple muscle groups for maximum fitness benefits.
An effective way to burn fat and build muscle, cardio intervals (or Fartlek workouts) incorporate sprints (or periods of intense effort) into a normal run. With the added challenge comes greater fitness reward: these workouts will improve your cardiovascular fitness and burn more calories than you would have by running at a steady pace.
The tried-and-true workout, swimming will always be one of the biggest calorie burners and toughest total-body workouts around. Not only does swimming bring major cardiovascular benefits, but it also builds strength, increases flexibility, strengthens the lungs and improves bone density. This in-water workout is a great option for those hoping to lose weight and it’s low impact, which means it’s typically safe and effective for people of all ages.
Best known for leaving the muscles in your legs and butt burning, stair workouts are a great option for those looking to improve overall fitness and shed a few pounds. Any set of stairs or bleachers will work and there are a bunch of different workouts you can do. Start out by sprinting up and then get in your rest period on the way down. Repeat a few times (depending on your fitness level) for a killer stair interval workout.
This fusion of martial arts and cardio is a killer workout that can burn upwards of 700 calories in an hour—making it a top choice for those hoping to slim down. And you don’t necessarily have to join a gym to try it out. Kickboxing workouts are available online and don’t usually require much equipment, so you can enjoy the major calorie burn, stress relief and strength benefits from your living room.
“You know those rowing machines at the gym? They're an often overlooked source for a great, quick workout,” said Eva Glasrud, a former D1 athlete and blogger at The Happy Talent. Rowing is a multi-faceted workout—it builds total body strength, is an incredible cardio workout and improves overall fitness. After a few sweat-soaked rowing workouts, you’re bound to see some major results.