Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
You asked, we answered.
If you’re searching the Internet trying to decipher if there’s such thing as a weight loss workout, or a “best” exercise to lose fat, chances are, you’re keen to lose a little weight.
Whether you’ve been advised to do so by the doctor or not, losing weight can feel incredibly daunting thanks to the barrage of weight loss ads and myths floating around on social media.
Do know: you don’t need to lose weight, and certainly shouldn’t ever feel pressured to do so. You are enough as you are, but if you do want to lose weight or start leading a healthier lifestyle, make sure to follow the advice of a qualified professional and avoid fad diets that’ll only end in you regaining any weight lost.
To find out if there’s such thing as a weight loss workout once and for all, we spoke to Catie Miller, certified in barre, STOTT Pilates, Prenatal and Postnatal and TRX, and Boniface Verney-Carron, a UK registered Osteopath and acupuncturist with over 16 years experience, who are the co-founders of Oona Series to get their take.
Is there one weight loss workout that’s better than others?
Short answer: no.
In both expert’s opinion, weight loss is only achieved when your body is in a calorie deficit – that means consuming less calories than your body uses to run. That can be done by eating less or exercising more – as the experts share, it’s normally achieved through safe, sustainable exercise, done consistently, and good nutrition.
On the workout front, there is no one weight loss workout – rather, it’s more important to work out three or so times week and do a sweat session that you genuinely enjoy.
“Make sure that you’re aiming for diversity of movement and understanding the importance of technique,” shares Miller.
Plus, know that weight loss isn’t just about working out – far from it. “Weight loss is about a combination of movement, mindfulness, meditation, visualisation, goal setting and embracing consistent, healthy habits” shares Verney-Carron.
Also know here: weight loss shouldn’t feel like a dirty phrase when the intention is grounded in holistic goals, share the experts. “You may need to manage your weight to alleviate a health condition, for example, like sleep apnea, joint pain or shortness of breath. At Oona Series, we don’t believe health is a ‘one size fits all’ approach – but there are indisputable factors that ring true for all human bodies, such as the importance of daily movement and good nutrition.”
How to work out which workout routine is best for you:
1. Enjoy it
FYI, the best, most sustainable workouts are the ones that you enjoy, share both experts. If you enjoy a workout, you’re more likely to do it more often or feel exercise motivation, meaning weight loss will be easier.
“If you hate running but then put pressure on yourself to hit the pavement or treadmill everyday, the experience of working out will not only be miserable but also difficult to maintain,” Miller shares.
2. Incorporate variety
Alongside joy, it’s important that any workout routine incorporates variety, share the experts. “This means a combination of different modes: cardio, strength, resistance, or weight training, low-impact conditioning and stretching,” says Verney-Carnon.
3. Try strength training
People often mistake intense cardio as the most effective way of losing weight, shares Miller, when strength training is the more efficient approach, peppered with bouts of high-intensity movement.
“Cardio has its place, of course, but weights and strength training allows you to build lean muscle, which in turn, supports your metabolism in burning fat,” she explains.
4. Make sure to rest
If you’ve read our guide to workout recovery, you’ll know that rest is absolutely essential for both weight loss and overall wellness.
“A great workout regime also incorporates great sleep and rest,” concludes Verney-Carnon. “If you’re not sleeping well, your body is not going to be concerned with any fitness or weight loss goals, it’ll be recalibrating its internal processes to save energy and keep you alive.”
Weight loss workout: an easy at-home barre workout
Like the sound of a barre exercises workout that you can do from home? Look no further – while the below isn’t the only workout that’ll help you lose fat, it will burn some calories, adding to your overall deficit. Either workout alongside the video, or, if you’re more advanced, try the below moves yourself.
1. High knees
Do: 2 sets of 8 reps.
a. Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms reached out in front of your shoulders in the first position.
b. Brush your right leg out in front of you, bringing your thigh and knee towards your chest. Keeping your back straight and arms strong, continue this movement, alternating leg lifts with a steady rhythm and pace. Advancement: Work through the same exercise series with added weights (1/2–1 kg weights are great).
c. Cardio challenge: Add a light jog, bringing your knees up towards the chest as you run on the spot. Swing your arms in opposition, ensuring they are placed with purpose.
2. Plié to curtsy lunge
Do: 8 to 16 reps on each side.
a. Stand with your legs open to a wide second position. Make sure your feet are naturally turned out and your arms are stretched out to the side from your shoulders.
b. Cross your foot behind, keeping it in turn-out, bend both knees in each position and bring your arms to first. The working leg is moving as the supporting leg is anchored into the floor.
c. Ensure your arms are moving from second to first as you transition into the movements. Advancement: Continue for another 8–16 reps. Deepening your curtsy, hinge forward, reaching one arm long towards the floor as the other arm reaches in opposition above your head.
d. Cardio challenge: To finish, take your curtsy straight to a passé (toe to knee), adding a hop at the top before you place it back down into curtsy. Tip: Keep a proud chest, square shoulders and hips and even weight on front and back foot.
3. Second position plié
Do: 2 sets of 8 on each side.
a. Standing centre or side-on to your chair, open your feet wider than your hips to second position with your arms stretched out to the side from your shoulders.
b. Plié all the way down into second position, pressing through your feet and ensuring your knees are laterally rotated out from the hip.
c. During the plié, focus on lifting your abdominals in and up. As you stretch your legs, press through your feet squeezing the backs of your legs (glutes and hamstrings) as you return to your starting position. Advancement: Add a relevé (this is a classical ballet term that means ‘raised’: it describes the action when a dancer rises up and stands on their toes) at the top of the move to create instability and test your core.
d. Cardio challenge! Continue with the plié to relevé series, adding a jump at the top and softly landing through your feet into a deep plié. Extra challenge: Try all three levels back to back to increase your heart rate. Try slowing it down or picking up the tempo.
4. First to second position pliés
Do: 8 to 16 reps.
a. Carrying on from the second position pliés, alternating legs, step your outside foot back in to join your heels together in first position.
b. Continue this action 8–16 times, working on stepping out to a wide second position with your toes turned out, knees wrapping back and your heels pressing into the floor. Advancement: Once your rhythm and technique is set, you can advance by taking large jumps from first to second position. Focus on landing softly through your feet and keeping your chest proud.
5. Passé with lunge back
Do: 2 sets of 8 reps each side.
a. Begin at an angle turned slightly in to your chair. Starting with your feet in the first position, bring your outside leg to passé (toe to knee).
b. Plié deep into your supporting leg, reaching your leg behind you towards the floor into a lunge as you hinge forward and reach your arm overhead.
c. Straighten the supporting leg as you draw the working leg into passé and your arm back to first position. Advancement: Add a relevé on your supporting leg as you bring the working leg into passé. Repeat for 2 sets of 8 on each side. Cardio challenge: Continue the advancement series and add a hop at the top, landing softly through your working leg. Tip: Focus on maintaining a neutral spine, especially as you extend both arm and leg.
6. Tricep kick backs
Do: 8 to 16 reps.
a. Standing centre of the floor with your feet together, hinge forward from your hips, and extend one leg behind you to a lunge.
b. Ensure your weight is forward into your front leg and the back leg is straight with little weight placed on it.
c. Square off your hips and shoulders. Reaching both arms behind, above your hips, with your palms facing each other or upwards, bend/ extend the arms, keeping your elbows lifted. The bend is small. Concentrate on extending your arms to engage the triceps fully. Advancement: Add a full range lunge driving your back knee towards the floor when you bend your arms and straighten your legs when you extend your arms.
d. Cardio challenge! Continue with the lunge/tricep kick-backs and add a lift of the back leg off the floor. Think about extending the leg longer, not higher, to activate your core and glutes for an added burn! Hold your leg and arms off the floor for your final balance.
Extra challenge: Try all three levels back to back to increase your heart rate. Try slowing it down or picking up the tempo.