50 Best Exercises For Weight Loss To Add To Your Workout

Deciding which exercises to include in your weight loss routine can be difficult.  There are so many machines throughout the gym and a myriad of exercises to choose from. Unless you have access to your own personal trainer, knowing where to start can be perplexing.  To make things simpler, and to remove the need for outside assistance, I've compiled 50 of the best exercises for weight loss.

Why are these particular exercises so good?  Many of them are compound movements, weight training exercises that involve more than one joint and muscle group.  They all elicit a significant fat burning and muscle building response, as well as a prolonged increase in metabolic rate. Increasing lean muscle stores plays a key role in unlocking your weight loss. 

Barbell Squats

Barbell squats

Barbell squats

Barbell squats are wonderful compound exercise and fantastic for losing weight.  While sometimes considered just a leg exercise, they actually work almost every muscle in your body.

How to do it:
Stand feet shoulder width apart.
Place barbell on your shoulders and grasp bar at either side.
Bend your knees and squat down until knees reach 90 degree angle
Contract legs and gluteal muscles and slowly return to standing position

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Front Squats

Both front and back squats recruit a host of major muscle groups, including your upper back, core, gluteals, quads, hamstrings and more.  Front squats however emphasize quadriceps and upper back more than back squats which are more gluteal focused. 

Front squats for weight loss

Front squats for weight loss

How to do it:
Place barbell on front of shoulders with hands on top of the bar. Arms parallel to the floor.
Perform squat movement as outlined in the barbell squat above.

Dumbbell or Barbell Lunges

Lunges, using either a dumbbell or barbell for resistance, can help improve full body strength, balance and stability as well as providing a better looking backside and legs. Note: The video above is for reverse lunges, to do standard lunges you step forward rather than backwards.

How to do it:
Stand with legs shoulder width apart.
Place barbell on shoulders and grasp the bar at either side, or hold dumbbells with arms at sides.
Lunge forward with your left leg.
Lower your body by bending the knee and hip of your front leg until the knee of the rear leg is just above the floor.
Pause briefly and then push up to return to starting position.
Alternate lunges with the other leg.  

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Bodyweight Lunges

Bodyweight lunges

Bodyweight lunges

An alternative to the weighted barbell or dumbbell lunge is the bodyweight alternative.  A great way to build strength before progressing to dumbbells, or if you do not have access to the required equipment.

One Arm Row

One arm row is also known as the dumbbell row or single arm row.  It is a great exercise for working your upper back, strengthening shoulders and biceps.

How to do it:
Place right knee on the end of a flat bench with right hand at the other end.
Upper body should be parallel to the floor with dumbbell in the left hand.
Pull dumbbell straight up to chest using only your arm then lower slowly until arm is fully extended.
Switch arms after a set is complete. 

Upright Row

The upright row is a multi joint exercise that engages the shoulders (deltoids), upper back (trapezius) and arms biceps.

How to do it:
Stand up straight, arms extended, bar grasped at shoulder width or slightly narrowed with overhand grip.
Pull bar straight upwards to just below the neck with elbows out to the side.
Lower slowly to starting position.

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Seated Cable Row

Seated cable row

Seated cable row

Cable rows can effectively target a range of different muscles. The seated cable row can target rear deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids, lats, spinal erectors and biceps depending on the exact technique employed.

How to do it:
Sit down in front of cable row machine / low pulley with feet slightly bent. 
Grasp handles with torso slightly arched and at 90 degree angle with legs.
Pull the handles towards your torso until your reach your upper abs.
Slowly lower back to the starting position. 

Dumbbell or Barbell Bench Press

dumbbell bench press

dumbbell bench press

For some, bench press is just about bragging rights.  But as part of a total body weight training routine it can be very effective at burning calories and losing weight.

How to do it:
Lie down on a flat bench.
Grasp the barbell with a wide overhand grip, or alternatively place a dumbbell in either hand.
Lift barbell / dumbbell and line it with your chest.
Lower barbell to your mid chest.
Push bar upwards until arms are fully extended.

Incline Bench Press

Incline bench press

Incline bench press

The incline press, while similar to the flat bench press, will develop the upper portion of the pectoral muscles. 

How to do it:
Lie down on the incline bench, dumbbells positioned to the side of the chest and elbows extended to the side.
Press dumbbells upwards until arms are extended.
Lower weight to the sides of upper chest.
Exercise can be completed with Barbell instead of Dumbbells if desired.

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Decline Bench Press

If the incline bench targets the upper pectorals, then it stands to reason the decline version will target the lower portion of your chest, as well assisting fat burning goals.

How to do it:
Lie down on a decline bench, feet locked under leg brace.
Grasp barbell or dumbbells with wide overhand grip and line up with your chest.
Lower weight to your upper chest.
Press bar upwards until arms are fully extended. 

Dumbbell Curl & Press

The dumbbell curl and press is an efficient calorie burning movement combining curls and the shoulder press into one exercise.  It is also great for strengthening arms and shoulders.

How to do it:
Stand shoulder width apart and dumbbells held by your side.
Curl dumbbells to shoulder level and press straight up into a shoulder press.
Lower slowly to starting position.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Dumbbell shoulder press

Dumbbell shoulder press

The dumbbell shoulder press can be performed seated (if you have a really low roof in your home gym like I do!) or standing depending on your preference. 

How to do it:
Hold dumbbells elbows out, either side of your shoulders.
Press upwards until arms fully extend.
Pause briefly then lower to starting position.  

Dumbbell Squat Press

Another great two-in-one movement, the squat press is sometimes known as the thruster. It primarily works both the quads and shoulders.

How to do it:
Stand feet shoulder width apart, dumbbells held level with shoulders, elbows bent.
Bend your knees and squat down until knees reach 90 degree angle.
Contract the buttocks and legs and move towards the starting position.
As you rise press dumbbells overhead until arms are extended.
Return to original position. 

Lat Pulldown

Lat Pulldown

Lat Pulldown

If you have access to a high cable or lat pulldown machine, this is a great exercise for developing the latissimus dorsi muscle.  It is also effective for overall upper body strength.

How to do it:
Place thighs under supports, sitting and facing cable bar.
Grasp cable bar with wide overhand grip.
Pull bar to upper chest.
Pause briefly and slowly release until arms and shoulders are fully extended. 

Barbell Deadlifts

Barbell deadlifts

Barbell deadlifts

The deadlift, 'the best exercise you are not doing' is an exercise that need to be approached with care.  Focus on technique at first rather than loading your bar with too much weight.

How to do it:
Stand feet shoulder width apart.
Squat down with a straight back, thighs parallel to the floor.
Grasp bar outside the legs with overhand grip. 
Lift bar vertically close to your body and stand up by raising hips & shoulders.
Pause briefly before returning slowly to starting position - butt pushed out as if sitting in a chair. 

Goblet Squat & Press

Combining the benefit of a squat and a press - this exercise is a great one to add to your workout. It can be performed with a dumbbell, kettlebell, or any weighted object you have available.

How to do it:
Stand feet shoulder width apart. 
Clasp dumbbell with two hands against your chest.
Lower into a squat position until knees reach a 90 degree angle.
Contract legs and gluteal muscles and move up towards the starting position.
Press the dumbbell overhead as you stand until arms are straight.
Return to original position.

Bent Over Row

This weight training exercise targets a variety of back muscles and is the go-to for many gym goers looking to strengthen their back.  It should be approached with some caution at the outset if you have a history of back injuries.

Bent over row

Bent over row

How to do it:
Bend over barbell, head up and back straight.
Grab bar with a wide overhand grip.
Pull bar upwards towards stomach.
Pause briefly then lower until arms are fully extended.  

Barbell Military Press

The military press primarily targets the anterior deltoids of the shoulder. However a range of synergist and stabiliser muscles are recruited in the chest, back and arms to assist with the movement.

How to do it:
Stand with feet shoulder width apart.
Grab the barbell with overhand grip and position at shoulder level in front of neck. 
Push bar skywards until arms are extended overhead.
Lower to front of neck and repeat. 

Renegade Dumbbell Rows

Renegade rows

Renegade rows

Renegade rows are one of my favourite fat burning exercises.  They are a multi joint movement and actively engage your back, shoulders, arms and core in one multi purpose movement.

How to do it:
Position body in full push up stance with a dumbbell in each hand. 
Row left dumbbell upwards until upper arm is slightly above the torso.
Pause briefly and lower again. Repeat motion with other arm. 
Ensure you tighten your abs and maintain body in a stable position throughout.  

Clean & Press

You've probably seen this exercise at the Olympics, performed by professional weight lifters, and thought it was too difficult.  Take you time and keep the weight low until you've perfected the technique. It is a wonderful calorie burner as it works basically your entire body in one efficient movement. 

How to do it:
Stand over the barbell. Bend down and grasp with overhand grip.
Lower butt so thighs are parallel to the ground.
Using a quick movement pull weight to the chest and then push weight to the roof in a straight line.
Lower slowly and controlled to the original position. 

Dumbbell Cuban Press

Dumbbell cuban press

Dumbbell cuban press

The Cuban press is basically two exercises in one.  The first a movement similar to an upright row, the second a standard shoulder press.  It is a great deltoid and trapezius strengthener.

How to do it:
Feet shoulder width apart dumbbell in each hand, shoulders rotated forward.
Lift elbows up and out until they are at shoulder height.
Rotate dumbbells upwards until forearms and hands are pointed upwards.
Press dumbbells overhead similar to shoulder press.
Reverse movement to return to starting position. 

Barbell High Pulls

High pulls are an explosive exercise that help develop full body power working quads, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, biceps, abs and traps.  

How to do it:
Squat down and grip bar with a shoulder width grip.
Raise chest until arms are straight.
Stand up explosively pulling the bar up as high as you can bending your elbows, thrusting your hips forward and raising upper arms.
Slowly lower weight down to start position.
Beginners can start with the bar at thigh level for an easier progression. 

Press Ups

Press ups for weight loss

Press ups for weight loss

If you don't want to attend a gym, or prefer working out in your own home then don't look past the good old press up.  Press ups (or push ups) test the entire body when done correctly, and can be modified easily to increase intensity.

How to do it:
Lie on the floor, hands shoulder width apart in line with shoulders.
Extend arms to raise your body off the floor.
Lower your body in a straight line towards the floor by bending your arms.
Push up again until arms are extended.  

Triceps Dips

Weighted triceps dips

Weighted triceps dips

Targeting the back of your arms, dips can be done on a bar, the edge of a bench, or even the edge of a chair.  It is a medium intensity exercise that uses bodyweight for resistance. 

How to do it:
Place hands on the edge of the bench so fingers are pointing towards you.
Extend legs out straight so only heels touch the ground.
Bend elbows to lower butt towards the floor.
Then push back up until your elbows are straight.  

Chin Ups

Chin ups work your entire body as a unit, similar to a pull up, however they tend to engage the biceps slightly more.  Chin ups are a high difficulty exercise, and may require support when starting out.

How to do it:
Step up and grab bar with underhand grip shoulder width apart.
Pull body upwards until chin is at bar level.
Lower your body slowly until arms and shoulders are fully extended.  
Avoid swinging during the movement. 

Now you are probably sitting their thinking 'that didn't seem like 50 exercises'.  And you would be right.  This is just part one of our 50 best weight loss exercises - the first 25.  Part two is now available.

Click here to view the next 25 'best weight loss exercises'