The 26 Best Weight Loss Exercises

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Exercising can be a great addition to your weight loss routine and your health in general. But what are the best weight loss exercises?

Aside from dieting, exercise is one of the most common methods people use when trying to lose weight.

By exercising, making your muscles work harder than usual, you raise the amount of energy your body needs.

Because fat is just extra energy stored on your body it can help you lose weight.

Exercise isn’t only good for losing weight.

It also provides you with a ton of health benefits. Exercise can help you improve your mood and reduce the risk of a lot of diseases including heart disease and diabetes.

What weight loss exercises are the best for you?

The best weight loss exercises are not just the ones that burn you the most fat for the least amount of effort (although you will certainly learn which ones these are).

Exercising is also a question of doing. Will you enjoy the exercise enough to continually do it? Will you have time to do the drive to the gym if you have to?

You need to ask yourself these and other questions.

If you stop exercising you will gain back the weight sooner or later. Try to choose a workout routine you can make something a part of your life.

What weight loss exercises are the best for you

What makes exercises good for weight loss?

There are two main ways exercising helps you burn extra calories.

Number one is more directly, during the exercise. By moving more or more vigorously you use more energy than usual. If that is more than you get into your body in the form of food, your body turns to body fat for the extra energy. Calories are just another way to measure energy.

The second way is more indirectly. Exercising can help you build muscle. The more muscle mass you have the more calories you burn every second of the day with almost everything you do. Sleeping, sitting,… even eating.

For example some strongmen, men who gain as much muscle as possible to lift the heaviest weights on the planet, eat 12.000 calories a day.

Cardio vs weight lifting for weight loss

Cardio or HIIT exercises are the best for directly losing weight at the time of working out. However, as soon as you stop the cardio, the calorie burning stops too.

Weight lifting is the best for indirectly losing weight. Your efforts will help you burn more calories for days and weeks after. It does burn calories in the moment but the real results come after.

So which one of the two is best for weight loss?

If you have to choose one or the other weight lifting is the best. It helps you burn extra calories 24/7.

If you really want to go at it, you can do both. The extra muscles on your body will make your cardio sessions even more effective thanks to the extra mass your body has to carry.

If you want to do it at the same day, doing weight lifting before cardio is the best. This allows you to go full-out during weight lifting to build as much muscle as possible.

The best weight loss exercises

So building as much muscle as possible is the priority.

You have a lot of different muscle groups in your body, some bigger than other. You want to do exercises that target these bigger muscle groups. That’s the easiest way to build a lot of muscle mass.

Your biggest muscle are your legs, back, chest and shoulders.

Weight lifting can also be done with your own body weight. However, the gym will most likely be a better option. Training with heavier weights allows you to build more muscle.

Here are some exercises to add to your workout plan for weight loss at the gym:


Your legs are one of the greatest places to gain extra muscle mass.

You don’t have to do every single one of these exercises, one done repeatedly can do the job.

1. Squats

Squatting is an exercise where you start standing up and then go down with your hips. You can do this both at the gym with extra weight on your shoulders and at home with just body weight.

Squats are a must-have in your gym workout if you want to build a lot of muscle. You’re not only training your legs with this exercise but also the rest of your core.

2. Lunges

A lunge is a kind of exercise with which you train 1 leg per step. It’s basically taking big steps.

This exercise can be done both with extra weights in your hand and with just body weight.

3. Leg presses

Leg presses are a machine exercise, which means without free weights. Similar movements with free weights are generally more effective in this area but leg presses can still burn a nice number of calories.

As the name implies this exercise mainly works leg muscles like your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.

4. Leg curls

Legs curls are another machine exercise. This one mainly focuses on the hamstring muscles which are your muscles at the rear of the upper leg.

The exercise is basically flexing the lower leg against resistance towards your butt.

5. Kettlebell swings

The kettlebell swing is an exercise that focuses a lot of other muscles on top of your legs.

The exercise involves swinging a kettlebell weight back and forth.

lunge for weight loss at the gym


Next up are your back muscles.

6. Bent over rows

Bent over rowing can be done with many different kinds of weights and techniques. However, they all have in common that they are a great way to build more back muscles and ultimately help you lose more weight.

7. Wide grip pull-ups

Pull ups can be both done with body weight and extra weight attached to your body.

By holding your hands further apart you focus your back muscles more.

8. Wide-grip cable row

The wide-grip cable row is a machine exercise focused on building back muscles.

9. Deadlifts

The deadlift is an exercise where you lift a loaded barbell off the ground to the level of your hips. This exercise is a bit less forgiving is you don’t do it exactly right so make sure your technique is good.

back exercise for weight loss


After the legs and back it’s time for the chest exercises.

10. Bench press

Bench presses are what most people think about when you say weight lifting. In this exercise you lay down on a weight training bench and you push weight upwards with your arms.

Bench presses can be done with different sorts of weight and inclines or declines of the bench.

11. Machine chest press

The machine chest press is basically the bench press but in an upright position.

Doing this version of the bench press can feel more secure but in return you’re training smaller variety of muscles.

12. Cable fly

The cable fly is a an exercise used to strengthen chest muscles by pulling cords with weight.

13. Pec deck machine

The pec deck machine is a very targeted machine without too many moving parts.

back exercise for weight loss


For the final of the four muscle groups there are the shoulders.

14. Overhead press

The overhead press is an exercise with different sorts of weight and techniques. A weight is pushed from shoulder height to as high as possible.

Doing this exercise standing will engage even more muscles.

15. Plate press out

The plate press out is an exercise in which you take a plate of weight between your hands. Start standing up with the weight against your chest and stretch out your arms. Then pull the weight back to your chest and repeat this motion.

16. Lateral raises

With the lateral raise you start standing up with weights, usually dumbbells in your hands. Just let your arms down beside you.

Then move the weights upwards with your arms still stretched.

shoulder exercise for weight loss

Weight loss exercises at home

Doing muscle building exercises at the gym is more effective because you can work with heavier weights. However, that does not mean you can’t build muscle at home. Here are a few home exercises you can add to your daily routine:


17. Bodyweight squats

The main difference between squats in the gym and squats at home is that it’s a bit harder to find weight to add. In the gym you can work towards squatting double your weight and more.

You can add an extra dimension to your squats by jumping when you push yourself up. These are called jump squats.

18. Lunges

The same thing as squats goes for lunges. Easily done at home but a bit harder to find a sufficient weight.

19. Glute bridge

The glute bridge is an exercise where you start with your back on the ground but your feet with their soles on the ground.

You then push up your hips, go down again and repeat this motion.

leg exercise at home for weight loss


20. Planking

Planking is an exercise in which you keep a similar pose as a push-up, but with your elbows on the ground instead of your hands, for as long as possible.

This is a classic core muscle exercise.

21. Supermans

With the superman you start laying on the ground on your belly with your arms stretched all the way forward.

The motion consists of raising your arms and legs (still stretched) upwards and after keeping them there a few seconds downwards again.

22. Quadruped limb raises

With the quadruped limb raise you start on hands and knees. Then you raise and stretch one arm and one leg, usually opposite sides, upwards. After keeping them briefly at height go back to starting position and repeat for the other side.

Do this multiple times.

back exercise at home for weight loss


23. Pushups

One of the most iconic bodyweight exercises, the pushup, is a great at home option to build out your chest muscles.

chest exercise at home for weight loss


24. Lateral raises

The lateral raise can also be done at home with about any weight you can find. Some examples of weights you can find at home are buckets with water, books, chairs,…

25. Press outs

The press out at home works the same as in the gym but again it can be a bit harder to find suitable weights.

26. Hand stand

For the more ambitious or gymnastic people there is always the option of doing handstands to workout out your shoulder muscles.

shoulder exercise at home for weight loss

If you’re looking to add other workouts on top of the muscle building ones you can consider doing these 10 cardio exercises.

It’s possible to do both muscle building and cardio workouts on the same day. Try to do the muscle building workout first so there is nothing holding you back from more calorie burning muscle mass.

Make your choice

Again, exercising is also about doing it. A less optimal exercise done is better than the perfect exercise not done.

Even if you do the right kind of exercise you can will probably hit weight plateaus. Your weight loss journey doesn’t end there, you’ll just have to do a bit more to get through it.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.