Women’s muscles respond just like men’s when it comes to fat-burning workouts. The only real difference is that women lack adequate amounts of the anabolic hormone testosterone for gaining a lot of muscle mass. According to “Xtreme Lean” authors Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman, the best fat-burning exercises come from resistance training workouts. Not only will you torch fat during and after the workout, but you'll also build lean muscle, which burns extra calories even when you're watching TV on the couch.
Squats target the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and core. According to Holman, this move creates an incredible fat-burning stimulus that increases your body’s production of HGH, or human growth hormone.
The deadlift could make a pretty strong argument for being number one. While deadlifts are certainly not for everyone, alternatives like stiff-leg deadlifts provide the same training stimulus in a less intimidating and safer package.
The leg press earns its place on this list because of its ease of use, low barrier to entry and overall safety. Unlike the deadlift and squat, leg presses don’t take nearly as much special attention to form and execution. Starting your gym routine with a leg exercise can increase fat-burning for the entire session, says David Zinczenko in “The Abs Diet.”
Lunges are versatile because they can be done with a barbell, dumbbells or your own body weight. They are tough but rewarding, and you don’t need much weight to really feel them working.
Many women fear the pullup because -- let’s face it -- it’s very difficult. Not to worry. There are plenty of ways to work up to pulling your own body weight. Start with the lat pull-down machine or the assisted pullup and keep at it.
Bench press is another super exercise because it targets multiple muscle groups at once. That's a great strategy for burning fat, says “Metabolic Surge” author Nick Nilsson. What other fat-burning move hits your chest, shoulders and triceps all at once? Bench pressing is equally effective whether you choose the barbell, dumbbells or machines.
There’s a reason why the military uses pushups as the ultimate training exercise. Body weight exercises give you all of the fat-burning benefits of gym training with far less potential for injury. Start with modified pushups on your knees and stick with it until you can do the full version.
Many people target the deltoids or shoulders with a ton of overhead pressing. Holman and Lawson say most of us get plenty of that from bench presses. For these two experts, the ultimate exercise for working the shoulders is the upright row. They recommend you pull only to the upper abdominal level, rather than to the clavicle, as many trainees mistakenly do.
Dips are another excellent move that targets the whole upper body, particularly the chest and triceps. You can do them on a flat bench or on parallel bars. Body-weight exercises like dips put a powerful fat-burning demand on the body, says Zinczenko.
Most trainees use barbell and dumbbell curls to hit the biceps. However, Lawson and Holman say that the ultimate move for the biceps is the chinup or under-grip pullup. To perform this move, simply do a pullup with your palms facing your body.
- Xtreme Lean; Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman
- The Abs Diet; David Zinczenko
- Metabolic Surge; Nick Nilsson
- The Fat-Burning Bible; Mackie Shilstone
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images