Best Exercise To Lose Weight Updated 2023: Top 5 & Helpful Tips

Reviewed by Dr. Drew Sutton, MD

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Best Exercise For Weight Loss
The best exercises are enjoyable, helpful to core muscles, and burn calories. Photo: Nghi Tran

Exercise can work wonders for weight loss, physical fitness, and health. But what are the best exercises to lose weight? We consider the best exercises to be those that work a lot of the core muscles, burn calories, and are doable/enjoyable. 

Top 5 Best Exercises For Weight Loss 2023

We have included 5 exercises that we consider to be the best for weight loss most of which use your overall body weight. These include: 

  • Sprinting 
  • Running 
  • Walking 
  • Dancing 
  • The “Big 3” Barbell Exercises 

What Are The Best Exercises For You To Lose Weight?

We have included 5 exercises that we believe to be the best for one reason or another. 


What Are The Best Exercises For You To Lose Weight
Sprinting can build some muscle tissue. Photo: Shutterstock

Sprinting[1] is a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Most of you must be aware of some of the benefits of HIIT. Sprinting will activate fast twitch muscle fibers and draw the anaerobic/creatine phosphate energy stem. In turn, this will allow you to burn calories in the short term, build some major muscle groups, and lose weight in the long term. 

Six sprints can burn more than 300 calories, which is equivalent to 30 minutes of steady-state cardio. Exerting yourself maximally can deplete glycogen stores and switch on a mechanism called AMPK. This means the body will be burning calories (fatty acids) for up to 72 hours after the exercise session, which may contribute towards losing weight. 

As we mentioned, sprinting can build some muscle tissue. Muscle is the most thermo-active tissue. In the long term the additional tissue on the frame could boost the metabolism, all the more reason to add sprints into your intense exercise routine. So overall sprint training may help lose weight by burning calories in the short term and boost the basal metabolic rate in the longer term.

To perform sprint training, you must sprint all out for 10-30 seconds, then allow your heart rate to recover enough to repeat another sprint. To reap all of the training benefits, I would suggest completing 6 sprints. 


Running[2] can be classified as anaerobic or aerobic exercise depending on the pace you are going. It can burn up to 420 calories per 30 minutes. You could practically run anywhere, roads, gardens, parks, fields, and the treadmill.  Personally, I like to run on uneven surfaces as it draws in more of the core stability muscles from having to keep balanced.  


Walking[3] is a very low-intensity exercise, but we love it. It can be performed by a wider range of the population. For example, those who are not able to engage in intense exercise may be able to walk i.e., the elderly and morbidly obese.

I have worked with obese clients who were not able to do any exercise besides walking. We used light walking for 4-5 minutes per day, which was a stepping stone to revive some mobility and reduce some body weight from the calorie burn.   

In the longer term, this allowed us to build walking endurance where we were able to increase the duration slowly. Eventually, we were able to move on to more advanced exercises to lose weight. 

In general, light walking can burn up to 138 calories per 30 minutes. 


Moderate-paced dancing[4] counts as one of aerobic exercises. Although dancing burns calories fewer than many exercises on an hourly basis, we still regard it highly due to it being enjoyable. This may motivate people to participate in dancing.

Dancing for 30 minutes can burn up to 294 calories. If one really enjoys dancing and takes it up for 1hr per day it could burn a whopping 588 calories.

The “Big 3” Barbell Exercises

The barbell deadlift, squat, and bench are a form of strength training.[5] Others may refer to them as weight training, resistance training, lifting weights, etc. I know that people usually get a bit confused over terminologies.  

The reason I have highlighted these exercises is that it is great for engaging multiple muscle groups, including the individual upper and lower body muscles. This can burn ~125 calories per 3-5 sets and build the lean muscle mass of the entire body in the long term. Becoming more muscle-bound would certainly increase the metabolic rate and body composition, as we know how much of a thermo-active tissue muscle is. This could help you lose weight and improve body composition. 

How Does Exercising Help With Weight Loss? 

Generally, great exercise will decrease calories in the short term which may help manage net caloric intake. If a caloric deficit is achieved, you could expect to slowly start dropping body weight. 

Let’s say the calories you need to maintain weight, sit around 2500 calories per day. This includes the sustenance of all bodily tissues, organs, and functions. If this example subject consumes ~2500 calories per day, weight should be maintained.

Now let’s imagine that this example subject introduced 15 minutes of running and 1 hour of extra walking per day. This would burn just under 500 calories per day, giving the subject a net caloric intake of 2000 calories, which is a 500-calorie deficit.[6] The subject would begin to lose some weight in a few days (glycogen/water) and ~1lb of fat mass in the week. A pound of fat equates to around 3500 calories (500 x 7 = 3500). 

Exercising may also build muscle tissue in the longer term, say 3 months to a year. This can ramp up the resting metabolic rate as muscle is the most thermo-active tissue in the body. For each 1 lb of muscle mass, you could burn ~6 more calories. Say that you add 5lb of muscle, this would burn an additional 30 calories a day, which accumulates over time and helps sustain a better body composition. 

Other Exercising Tips For Weight Loss

Maintain Good Posture & Form

To optimize the effectiveness and safety of an exercise you must keep a good posture throughout. For example, if you are squatting and your back starts to cave in, this increases the risk of spinal damage. 

An injury can set you back and cause you to not be able to engage in much physical activity. This can cause a caloric surplus, which means you will be getting more calories than your body needs. This puts the body into reverse, where you would begin to gain body fat and weight. 

If you are not sure about proper posture and exercise form, employing a certified personal trainer is an option. Good personal trainers will guide and adjust exercises to ensure that you get the most out of them and as safely as possible. 


Keeping consistent with exercise is a must if you want to lose weight. Using our example subject from earlier, let’s say that if exercise was cut to 1 day a week, it would take 7 weeks to lose 1lb of fat, which is significantly slower. 

If you want to continue losing weight, consistently driving a caloric deficit is important. You must find the weight to bring net calories down once weight loss plateaus. 

This can be from increasing exercise expenditure, healthy eating, increasing non-exercise activity, or changing the macronutrient composition of the food that you eat. Protein foods have a higher thermic effect, meaning they require more calories to digest, absorb, and metabolize. 


In my opinion, adding a variety of exercises and changing them over time is important. This can reduce tedium and motivate you to keep exercising to burn calories and build muscle tone consistently. 

Once you get bored of your workout you can begin to replace different cardio exercises like jumping rope, brisk walking, weight machines, yoga classes, full-body workout, HIIT workouts, etc. 

Nutrition For Exercise

Nutrition For Exercise
Exercise requires a well-planned diet as a source of energy. Photo: Shutterstock

Without getting into too much detail, exercise requires well-thought-out nutrition for fuel and as a means of muscle recovery. 

To be specific carbohydrates can be consumed which will then be stored in the muscles, liver, and brain to be used as energy for exercise. Carbohydrate foods include; fruit, pasta, rice, bread, sugars, etc. 

Protein foods are also important for the growth and repair of muscle. Foods that contain all of the essential amino acids can promote muscle protein synthesis. These foods could include; whey protein, milk, egg, casein, chicken breast, chicken leg, white fish, beef, etc.

How To Choose Weight Loss Exercises

The exercises that you choose will depend on personal preference and how you want to look overall. Those who enjoy intense cardio may want to engage in HIIT workouts like sprinting. Others might prefer moderate-pace running. On the other hand, some individuals may not even be physically capable of doing so and may want to start doing some steady-pace walking. 

My personal preference is strength training and HIIT cardio. This allows me to burn a ton of calories and build more lean muscle as a means of effective weight management.


Exercise helps to burn calories in the short term and improve body composition in the longer term, by increasing muscle tone and reducing body fat

We have highlighted 5 exercises that can help burn muscle and activate the muscles of the entire body to promote weight loss. These exercises have been selected not just for the number of calories they burn, but for their appeal to the general population. 

Remember to maximize exercise performance and your weight reduction efforts, you should take into account; exercise posture/form, consistency, exercise variation, and nutrition. 

The exercises to decide to utilize will depend on your personal preference i.e. Someone who likes lifting weights may try the big 3 barbell exercises. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it true the more calories you burn the more weight you will lose?

YES AND NO! Food intake will also play a part in how much weight you lose, but expanding calories can certainly help burn fat and lose weight quicker. 

What exercise is best for physical fitness as well as weight loss?

I would have to say sprinting. Sprinting can build muscle strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health. Not to mention, it burns the most calories in the shortest time. 

What exercise burns the most calories?

Mountain climbing burns over 350 calories per half an hour. It is not on our list because mountains are obviously not accessible to most of the population, for regular exercise at least. 

+ 6 sources

MIDSS adheres to strict procurement guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutes, and medical associations. We work mainly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure the accuracy of the information. We avoid the use of tertiary references. You can read about how we ensure the accuracy and timeliness of our content in our editorial process.

  1. Wewege, M.A., van, Ward, R. and Keech, A. (2017). The effects of high-intensity interval training vs. moderate-intensity continuous training on body composition in overweight and obese adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, [online] 18(6), pp.635–646. doi:
  2. Wewege, M.A., van, Ward, R. and Keech, A. (2017). The effects of high-intensity interval training vs. moderate-intensity continuous training on body composition in overweight and obese adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, [online] 18(6), pp.635–646. doi:
  3. Syazwani Airin, Linoby, A., Muhammad, Baki, H., Hanifa Sariman, Esham, B., Mohd and Muhamad Noor Mohamed (2014). The Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training and Continuous Training on Weight Loss and Body Composition in Overweight Females. Springer eBooks, [online] pp.401–409. doi:
  4. Alpert, P.T. (2016). The Health Benefits of Dance – Patricia T. Alpert, 2011. [online] Home Health Care Management & Practice. Available at:
  5. Ferland, P.-M., Pollock, A., Swope, R., Ryan, M., Reeder, M., Heumann, K. and Comtois, A.S. (2020). The Relationship Between Physical Characteristics and Maximal Strength in Men Practicing the Back Squat, the Bench Press and the Deadlift. International journal of exercise science, [online] 13(4), pp.281–297. Available at:
  6. Strasser, B., Spreitzer, A. and Haber, P. (2007). Fat Loss Depends on Energy Deficit Only, Independently of the Method for Weight Loss. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, [online] 51(5), pp.428–432. doi:‌‌‌


Zaakir Shakoor, Nutritionist
Nutrition, Exercise & Health Specialist/Writer
Zack Shakoor Kayani was born and raised in the South East of England/London. Zack has attained a bolus of knowledge regarding biosciences through academia and his career experiences. In terms of his educational background, he has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology (Hons.), a Postgraduate diploma in sports nutrition with the International Olympic Committee, and a Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences from Middlesex University. Zack has been fortunate enough to apply his Exercise Science and Nutrition Knowledge to aid Hundreds if not Thousands of Patients and Athletes, providing 1-1 consultation, Personal training, Information sheets, offering recommendations to collate nutrition and exercise programs, etc. Not to mention, in 2022, he authored a book called 'The 'Good' Coach Weight Loss Solution.


Drew is a retired ENT doctor who now lives in the Southeastern US. He was a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology and an MD degree. He completed his internship in General Surgery and Residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and practiced for almost 30 years in all aspects of ENT, including a specialization in disorders of the ear and skull base. Drew is passionate about communicating his clinical experiences and making his knowledge more accessible to the general public by medical writing.

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