It’s important to love your body, but it’s also important to take care of it. So why not learn about the best exercises to lose weight and stay in shape?
25 years ago, roughly 10% of the American population was obese. Now, obesity affects roughly 25-35% of Americans, depending on the state. All in all, two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (1, 2).
As most of us know first hand, gaining weight is a slippery slope. In fact, the WHO and NIH both classify obesity “as a chronic progressive disease resulting from multiple environmental and genetic factors.”
And weight gain isn’t just caused by excess eating, it can also occur due to inactivity, medication, disease, and certain medical conditions. That’s why losing weight isn’t straightforward for everyone.
The Benefits Of Exercise
The easiest way to tone up your body and lose fat is to get moving and change your diet. It’s an important change to make, too. Here’s why.
Extra pounds under and over the muscles of your chest and belly are by the most dangerous because they put extra stress on your heart and lungs (3).
As cholesterol builds up in your arteries, blood flow to you heart becomes impaired. Over time, this can cause a heart attack or even heart failure.
Other serious conditions caused by being overweight or obese include (4):
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Abnormal Blood Fats (High Cholesterol)
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Sleep Apnea
- Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome
- Reproductive Problems
- Hormonal changes
Plus obesity also results in poorer mental health outcomes, reduced quality of life, shorter lifespan, and a higher risk of death.
And while most of us aren’t obese, our bodies can always benefit from exercise and good food!
40 Best Exercises to Lose Weight
Exercise is essential for the health of your muscles, which support and protect your skeletal system. Plus, it trains your heart and lungs to better distribute blood and oxygen throughout your body. It’s also necessary for moving along lymph, since your lymphatic system doesn’t have its own heart-like pump.
Here are 40 great exercises to lose weight at home and build muscle throughout your whole body!
Your glutes play a vital role in your spine health. When you’re in optimal shape, they also stabilize your legs and pelvis. When your glutes are weak, you’ll typically feel pain in your lower back or shoulders.
You don’t get a lot of exercise when you work a desk job and walk minimally, and the first muscles to weaken are your glutes. It’s also a common spot for excess fat to settle into. Build them up with these exercises.
- Stand up straight with legs at hip’s width apart.
- Step forward with your right and bend your knee at a 90° and hold for 5 seconds.
- Go back to your original position and change legs.
- Do 10-20 reps in 3 sets.
- To increase intensity, use light dumbbells and build up your strength.
2. Donkey Kicks
- Start on the ground on your hands and knees at shoulder’s and hip’s width.
- Keep your abs and glutes tight and raise your right heel towards to the ceiling so that your foot is directly above your butt. Make sure to keep your thigh no higher than your torso to avoid injuring your spine.
- Hold the position and slowly return your knee towards the ground without touching it.
- Repeat 15 times on each leg and perform 3 sets. You can also boost your workout by strapping on ankle weights.
3. Fire Hydrant
- Start in the same position as the donkey kick but open your right leg towards the side, opening your hips and keeping your right thigh parallel to the floor.
- Resist the urge to touch your knee to the floor as you bring your knee back to its original position.
- Repeat the movement 15 times on each leg and perform 3 sets.
4. Squat Pulse
- Stand up with your legs at hip’s width apart with your toes turned outward and your arms straight out in front of you.
- Squat down, keeping your glutes and abs tight. Make sure to keep your knees in line with your toes and your back straight.
- Stay in this position and raise and lower your butt slightly as if you were bouncing.
- Bounce 15 times and return to your starting position.
- Repeat this movement in 3 sets of 15 repetitions. Use dumbbells to get a deeper stretch.
- Lay with your back towards the ground and your knees bent, planting your feet firmly on the ground. Your feet should be a little more than a hip’s width apart and should sit parallel to your knees.
- Place a light dumbbell or plate on your hips and lift them off the floor by tightening your glutes, thighs, and abs. If you’re new to working out, try the exercise without the use of weights.
- Lower down the starting position, keeping your hips slightly above the ground.
- Do 15 reps in 3 sets.
Your chest muscles connect your neck, shoulders, and abs, so they should never be neglected. They also make sure your ribs are properly supported to protect your heart and lungs. Building up your chest will make sure that your body can handle the other exercises below. Plus, they help women improve breast health and tone.
- Get into a high plank position. Place your hands firmly on the ground, directly under shoulders.
- Ground your toes into the floor to stabilize your lower half. Brace your core (tighten your abs as if preparing to take a punch), engage glutes and hamstrings, and flatten your back so your entire body is neutral and straight.
- Begin to lower your body—keeping your back flat and eyes focused about three feet in front of you to keep a neutral neck until your chest grazes the floor. Your body should remain in a straight line from head to toe. Draw shoulder blades back and down, keeping elbows tucked close to your body.
- Keeping your core engaged, exhale as you push back to the starting position.
- Repeat 10-20 times for 3 sets.
7. Inch Worm
- Start in a push-up position with your arms directly under your shoulders, elbows and body straight with your body weight supported on your toes.
- Keeping your feet planted, walk your hands backward toward your feet as your butt rises toward the ceiling.
- Stop when you feel a stretch in the back of your legs, then walk your hands back out into the pushup position.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Do a push-up.
- Once completed, keep your hands on the ground and jump your legs forward so you are standing in a bent over position.
- Lift hands off the ground and jump into the air as high as you can.
- Now bend over again, place hands flat on the floor and jump feet back into a push- up position.
- Repeat four sets of 20 with 30 seconds break in between each set.
9. Medicine Ball Pull Over
- Hold a medicine ball straight up in the air. If you don’t have a medicine ball, simply raise your arms above your head at shoulder’s width apart.
- Slowly lower your arms behind your head as far as you can, keeping arms lengthened with a soft elbow bend.
- Squeeze your chest and triceps and bring your arms back to the original position above your chest.
10. Commando Pushup
- Get into a push-up position on the ground.
- Push up into a plank position and bring your left knee into your chest.
- Kick back your left leg and lower yourself into the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times, alternating your legs each time.
It’s important for your core to stay tight to avoid injury in everyday life as well as in the gym. These muscles also improve your posture by stabilizing your spine.
Exercising this region will also get rid of stubborn belly fat and love handles.
- Start with your belly to the ground, keeping your feet at hip’s width apart and your palms beside your chest at shoulder’s width apart. This starting position should resemble a push-up position.
- Lift yourself up, placing your weight on your toes and lower your arms one at a time so that your forearms are touching the ground. Your weight should be distributed equally on your toes and forearms.
- Keep your back straight with your head facing the ground, tightening your core and buttocks.
12. Reverse Plank
- Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you and you back straight.
- Lean back so that your back is at a 45-degree angle with the floor.
- Place your hands by your side, with your palms spread wide and your arms aligned with your shoulders and slightly behind your hips.
- Supporting your weight on your hands and heels, lift your hips so that your body is straight, with your glutes and core tight. You might find it helpful to visualize your belly button being sucked in towards your spine.
- Hold the position for 15-30 seconds as you look towards the ceiling.
- Slowly lower yourself back to the original position.
- Once you hit the ground, lift again. Repeat 10-15 times.
13. Oblique Twists
- Lay down on a mat while bringing your upper body up off the floor.
- Lean slightly back and stretch your arms straight out in front of you.
- Crunching only slightly at your trunk, rotate to one side.
- At the end of your range of motion, quickly reverse the movement and rotate to the opposite side.
- Repeat for 4 sets of 20.
14. Side Plank
- Lie on your left side with your left forearm on the floor perpendicular to your body and your right hand resting on your side.
- Stack your legs and hips and pull your bellybutton in towards your spine.
- Raise your body up by straightening and lengthening the waist so that you are balanced on your left forearm and the bottom of your left foot.
- Repeat in 4 sets of 15.
15. Flutter kicks
- Lie on the floor and lift yourself up onto your forearms. Keep your arms firmly against your body, with your hands spread wide for more support.
- Lift your legs a few inches off the ground and criss-cross your feet by lifting your left leg above your right leg and bringing it towards your right side as your right leg goes towards the left.
- Alternate which leg goes above the other and keep them as close to the ground as possible.
- As you exercise, tighten your belly to keep your lower back flat and straight.
- Repeat in 4 sets of 30.
Let’s face it, it’s hard to burn fat in your thighs. While you can have firm thighs without losing weight, you’ll have to exercise to keep them trim and defined.
16. Wall Sit
- Stand with your back flat against a wall
- Walk your feet out about 2 feet in front of you and spread them about 6 inches apart.
- Slide your back down the wall, bending your knees until they are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground and it should appear that you are sitting in an invisible chair. Your knees should never extend past your ankles.
- Hold this seated position for 20-60 seconds, contracting your abdominal muscles.
- Straighten your legs and come back to a standing lean against the wall.
- Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat.
- Try to do 5 sits at 60 seconds each.
17. Single-Leg Circle
- Lie back on the mat with your arms by your sides and your palms facing down.
- Begin by pointing with your left foot, as if reaching out with your toes toward the ceiling, and rotate your leg slightly outward.
- Inhale, and trace a circle on the ceiling with your left leg, moving your whole leg, but keeping your hips still. Don’t lift your left hip off the floor.
- Trace the circle on the ceiling 5 times in a clockwise direction. Repeat in a counter-clockwise direction.
- Switch legs and repeat 5 times.
18. Toe Squat With Reach
- Come into a chair pose, abs engaged, inner knees and ankles touching, hips lowered to a half-squat, and your arms over your head.
- Now come up onto the balls of your feet and keep your lower legs controlled as you lower and lift your butt, about 4 inches.
- Take your time and keep yourself steady as you lift and lower, between 8 and 12 times.
19. Outer and Inner Thigh Kick
- Stand holding the back of a chair. Press your shoulder blades back and down.
- Come up onto the ball of your left foot, and lift your right leg.
- Keeping your abs pulled in, bring your right leg across your body, in front of your left.
- Now, swing it back out to the right, keeping your toes flexed and your toes turned out. Use momentum to swing through your leg as you fire through your left glutes.
- Do 10 reps. Be sure to keep both hips facing forward.
- Come onto the right leg and repeat for 10 more reps, again making sure your hips are facing forward. Flex your foot as you use momentum to swing your left leg and fire through your right glutes.
- Take a breather, then do another set.
20. Side Lunges
- To start, stand with your legs wider than hip-width apart so that you’re in a standing, straddle position.
- Lean toward your left leg, bending down as far as possible, with your eventual goal to be to get your hamstring (back of your leg) to hit your calf.
- Squeeze your butt as you stand halfway up in a squat position, then lean toward the right leg.
If you’re having trouble balancing with this exercise, hold onto a sturdy surface in front of you or use a band to get you used to the movement.
- Do 3 sets of 20 reps.
What’s the point of having slim thighs if you don’t have the legs to match? Toning up your legs will give you the strength to walk and run more, which will get some much-needed cardio into your workout!
21. Pistol Squat
- Stand holding your arms straight out in front of your body at shoulder level, parallel to the floor.
- Raise your right leg off the floor, and hold it there.
- Push your hips back and lower your body as far as you can.
- Pause, then push your body back to the starting position.
22. Squat Tuck Jump
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Squat down as low as you can (aim for a deep squat).
- Stand up explosively, jumping your knees towards your chest as you do so.
- Do 5 sets of 10.
23. Jump Lunges
- Get into a lunge position with one leg bent forward in a ninety-degree angle and the other bent behind you.
- Jump up explosively with your back leg, switch positions in the air and land with the opposite leg forward.
- Do 5 sets of 10.
24. Step Ups
- Choose a step, bench, or box with a height appropriate to your strength and skill level. Place one foot on the edge of the step, ensuring that you will be able to balance on the ball of your foot.
- Pushing through your lead quad and foot, raise yourself up onto the step, hold for a moment, and lower yourself back down. Keep your core locked and your back straight.
- Complete however many reps you desire, and then switch feet.
25. Long Jumps
- Squat down until you reach a ninety-degree angle.
- Jump forward as far as you can.
- Repeat immediately for maximum effect.
- Do 3 sets of 10-20.
Who likes back rolls? Melt away back and bra-strap fat with these powerful exercises. You’ll also keep back pain away for good!
- Lie facedown with your chin on the ground and eyes at a neutral gaze. Your ankles should be touching with toes pointed under you.
- Reach your arms straight out above your shoulders so your palms are resting flat on the floor.
- Engage your back, glutes and shoulders to pull yourself a few inches off the ground. Your arms and legs should remain fully contracted so that your hands and feet are elevated to the same relative height at the top of the static hold position.
- Hold this position while fully engaging your body to “fly” like the man of steel.
- Repeat for 3 reps with a 15-30 second static hold, and 30-60 seconds rest between sets.
27. Reverse Snow Angels
- Position yourself facedown on the ground with arms at your sides and palms facing down.
- Peel your shoulders and hands a few inches off the ground by pinching your scapula together and engaging your lats and rhomboids in your mid-back.
- Keeping your head facing down, in a slow, controlled motion, bring your arms up past your shoulders and up to your ears until your thumbs meet directly above your head.
- Then, bring your arms back to the starting position. The key here is keeping the arms straight and elbows locked through the entire movement to engage your lats and shoulders.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 5 reps, with 30-60 seconds of rest between sets.
28. Lat Pullover
- Lie on your back on a bench (or floor if you don’t have a bench), feet flat on the bench (or floor), knees bent and bring your arms straight up.
- Lower your arms straight back behind your head until they are in line with your torso and parallel to the floor.
- If you are not using a bench, lower your arms until they just above but not touching the floor.
- Keeping your arms straight, pull them back to the start position over your chest.
- Do one to two sets of 15 repetitions each.
29. Back Extensions
- Lie face-down on a mat or well-padded floor, arms straight by your sides, palms up, forehead facing the floor. The tops of your feet should be flat against the floor.
- Slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor, lifting your arms, squeezing your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds.
- Lower to start position and do one to two sets of 15 repetitions each.
30. Hip Hinge
- Stand up straight with your hands on your hips. Your feet should be slightly wider than your hips and firmly planted on the ground.
- Start the movement by engaging your core, pushing your ribs down and pulling your shoulders slightly back with a neutral neck position.
- Bend forward at the waist in a slow and controlled manner while keeping your shoulders in line with your hips. Keep your back, glutes and hamstrings engaged throughout the exercise.
- Bend forward until you are parallel, or just above parallel to the floor, before bringing yourself back up to the starting position and repeating.
If you already lead an active lifestyle, then your legs are probably lean and toned, but what about your arms? Unless you’re carrying heavy things all day, make time for these effective exercises to activate those unused muscles and get into fat burning mode.
31. Triceps Dip
- Start by placing your palms on the edge of a bench or sturdy chair, making sure your arms are straight down from your shoulders.
- Place your legs straight out in front of you with your heels resting on the floor.
- Then, slowly lower your body into a dip, bending your elbows while you allow your back to gently glide down the front of the bench.
- Once you have lowered yourself, begin to raise yourself back up to the starting position.
- Pause for a moment and then lift your hips as high as you can toward the ceiling so you are in an inverted plank position.
- Once you return to starting position, you have completed one repetition.
32. Plank Push-up
- With your toes on the floor, lift your body off of the ground using your arms, and lift your knees off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your heels to the back of your neck.
- Instead of bending your elbows to lower down as you would with a traditional push-up, slowly lower one arm until your forearm and elbow are resting on the ground.
- Carefully lean on that forearm, and bring your other arm down to rest on the ground in the same way. You should now be in the plank position.
- Hold the plank for one count, and then slowly return to the push-up position, one arm at a time.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
33. Standing Lateral Raise
- Stand tall with your arms by your side (palms facing your body) and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Straighten, but don’t lock your arms, and then raise your arms diagonally in front of you so your arms form a ‘V’ and are parallel to the floor.
- Hold this for one second then return to the starting position.
- Do 5 sets of 30 reps. Enhance with dumbbells if you wish.
34. One-Leg Push-Up
- Begin in plank with your knees on the mat.
- Extend your right leg straight behind you so it’s parallel with the floor. Engage your abs, and keep your left heel in line with your hips by engaging your glutes.
- With your right leg extended, exhale to bend the elbows, lowering into a push-up.
- Inhale to straighten your arms, keeping your leg lifted.
- Do 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
35. Push-up And Rotate
- Begin in a plank position with your feet in line with your hips.
- Lower your body toward the floor, and then push through your arms, returning to plank.
- Twist to the left, reaching your left arm to the ceiling without letting your pelvis rise or lower.
- Return to plank position, bringing your hand back to the floor.
- Do 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
Exercising your feet isn’t so much about weight loss but about making sure your new trim body is properly supported. After all, your feet are often-overlooked victims of being overweight. These exercises are also great for treating hip, back or knee pain.
36. Heel Raises
- Grab a chair and place it in front of you.
- Stand tall and lift your left leg off the ground.
- Make sure to bend your right leg a little at the knee.
- Slowly raise and lower right heel, making sure that your foot is properly aligned with your leg.
- Do about 10-20 reps and switch legs.
- You should perform about 2-3 sets for best result.
37. Toe Walking
- Stand on your tiptoes with your feet straight and walk forward for 20 seconds.
- Next, point your toes outward and walk for another 20 seconds.
- Once that’s done, point your toes inwards and repeat.
- Rest for 10-15 seconds.
- Repeat the whole routine 5 more times.
38. Ankle Circles
- Lie down on your back in a comfortable position and bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
- Hug your right knee to your chest and move your right ankle in a circular motion.
- Your toes should be pointed as they reach a 12 o’clock position and flexed outwards as they reach 6 o’clock.
- Do about 5-10 in circles in a clockwise motion and change direction.
- Repeat for another 5-10 circles.
- Once you’re done with one foot, bring it down and switch legs.
- Repeat the whole exercise with your left ankle.
- For best results, do about 5 sets with each foot.
39. Toe Curls
- Sit down on a chair and place a towel on the floor.
- Place both feet on the towel.
- Use all your toes to scrunch up the towel towards you.
- After about 5-10 reps, try scrunching the towel back out again.
- Repeat 5 sets for each direction.
- Next, rest and wiggle your toes to promotes blood flow.
- Place your feet back on the towel. Using your right foot, grab the towel with your toes and hold it for 10 seconds.
- Release and repeat 5 times for each foot.
40. Seated Calf Stretch
- This is a simple way to stretch your calves while sitting.
- Sit comfortably on the floor. If the backs of your legs are really tight and you find yourself slumping, sit on a pillow so you can keep your spine straight.
- Fold your right leg in and reach your left leg long.
- Wrap a yoga strap or Theraband (or an old tie or belt from your bathrobe) around the ball of your left foot.
- Use the strap to pull your toes toward your head.
- Do not jam your knee into the floor and keep your left heel on the ground.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
There you have it! 40 exercise to tackle all your problem areas and rebuild every part of your body. for lasting results, make sure to get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, eat well, and get some cardio in every day. If you’re feeling unmotivated, exercise with a friend!