Body weight exercises that burn fat

Body weight exercises that burn fat

Discover the calorie-scorching power of plyometrics

If you’re looking for an effective weight loss solution that’s convenient and inexpensive, then look no further. And don't worry, there are no flimsy gadgets or cheesy infomercials involved.

Body weight exercises offer a wide range of fitness and fat burning benefits. But we’re not just talking about boring old push-ups. Explosive whole body exercises (called plyometrics) effectively torch excess body fat while building strength, power, balance and coordination. You can also adapt many of them to suit your level of fitness. Our go-to trainer Andrew Cate explains.

The advantages of body weight exercises

While weight training promotes weight control, gym membership doesn’t always appeal and not everyone wants a set of dumbbells lying about the place. Enter body weight exercises and their super benefits such as:

  • Freedom — As little or no equipment is required, you can perform body weight exercises anywhere, anytime: at home, in the park or while you are on holidays.
  • Flexibility — Many body weight exercises can be adjusted to suit individual differences in strength and fitness. This may involve using different grips or body positions to vary the difficulty.
  • Core strength — Body weight exercises don’t follow set movement patterns like pin loaded weight machines. Natural body motions are more effective at developing core strength, which provides an added training benefit.
  • No gym fees — Body weight exercises require no equipment, and you don’t need to be a gym member to enjoy the benefits.
  • Results — Body weight exercises are as effective as lifting weights or using machines at the gym.

What are the best body weight exercises for burning fat?

The more muscles you use, the more calories you burn. Plyometric exercises target the large muscle groups in your legs, hips, trunk and arms, which makes them a metabolism-boosting powerhouse.

Plyometric movements are quick and explosive and may involve

  • jumping
  • leaping
  • hopping
  • skipping
  • bounding

There is little rest between movements, which elevates the heart rate and strengthens the heart muscle. The following 7 calorie-torchers could transform your exercise routine — and your body shape.

  1. Plyometric squat jumps

A good starting point for plyometric exercises is a squat jump. It allows you to easily adjust the difficulty level, while remaining effective at working your lower body and boosting your heart rate.

Target areas: Glutes, thighs, core, calves, shoulders

Go easy: Minimise the height of your jump, and pause between jumps

Go hard: Increase the tempo, jump higher or hold light dumbbells

  1. Star jumps

Star jumps are a great way to target the muscles in your shoulders and the inner and outer thighs. They are also a good training exercise for activities that involve lateral movement, such as tennis, basketball ,netball and Zumba.

Target areas: Shoulders, glutes, thighs, core, calves, shoulders, upper back

Go easy: Minimise the height of your jump, and pause between jumps

Go hard: Increase the tempo, jump higher, or hold light dumbbells

  1. Burpees

Burpees work your entire body and improve cardiovascular endurance by combining a squat, a vertical jump and a plank all in one. Make sure to keep your core engaged throughout.

Target areas: Glutes, thighs, core, chest, shoulders

Go easy: Step your feet back 1 at a time instead of jumping in the horizontal phase of the movement.

Go hard: Add a push up to increase the demands on your upper body.

  1. Frog leaps

Frog leaps are a powerful workout for your leg muscles. Keep your head, neck, shoulders relaxed, and get the technique right before progressing to one of the many variations.

Target areas: Glutes, thighs, calves, core, shoulders

Go easy: Jump forward only slightly and to a minimal height

Go hard: Increase the speed, go lower in the squat phase, jump higher or jump further forward. You can leap frog backwards and forwards instead of just forwards, and you can also perform frog leaps sideways to target the inner and outer thigh muscles.

  1. Box jumps

Box jumps are a multi-joint exercise that recruit your upper and lower body. They require a significant, all-out effort to jump high, so you’ll be puffed in no time. Make sure the surface you are jumping onto is stable and secure.

Target areas: Buttocks, thighs, calves, core

Go easy: Use a very low box or step

Go hard: Increase the height of the box or bench

  1. Mountain climbers

This exercise makes any available floor space a challenging hill to climb. Mountain climbers are a great fat burner while also building core strength and agility.

Target areas: Chest, core, calves, thighs, shoulders

Go easy: Step your feet back 1 at time instead of jumping, or if you do jump, take a short breather between movements.

Go harder: Increase the speed, and don't let your front foot rest on the ground

  1. Plyometric split jumps

Also known as jumping lunges, this is a more advanced exercise that challenges your thigh muscles. They are champions for burning calories, improving balance and boosting muscles strength.

Target areas: Glutes, thighs

Go easy: Hold on to a support while jumping to improve balance and support your weight

Go hard: Increase the tempo, jump higher or hold light dumbbells

Andrew’s tips for super-effective body weight exercises

  • Use good technique. Watch the video demonstrations of each plyometrics exercise and pay attention to the tips provided on how to perform each movement correctly. Good technique reduces the risk of injury, and maximises your results.
  • Start out easy. Warm up well and take things gently when you first try plyometrics. If anything seems too hard or uncomfortable, try a lighter variation.
  • Combine with other exercises. Plyometrics challenge your muscles, and they will need a day or so to recover. Alternate days of plyometric training with cardiovascular exercises such as brisk walking, jogging or cycling.
  • Make your own circuit. Create your own high intensity circuit with a combination of your favourite plyometric exercises. For example, 20 repetitions of each exercise 3 times, or 50 of each exercise to a time challenge.

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