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Four Exercises You Think Burn Tons of Fat But Don’t

Updated on July 15, 2019
Lorra Garrick profile image

A former ACE-certified personal trainer, I've trained men & women of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, more strength & more fitness.

If you want to burn a lot of fat and lose weight, there are popular exercises that you may wish to avoid, even though it’s a myth that these exercises are the best for weight loss. And unfortunately, some personal trainers themselves may have fallen for these exercises as panaceas for weight loss.

Technically, any activity burns fat, but the following list is of exercises that don’t burn nearly as much fat as they’ve been touted to.


Before you hang your mouth open in disbelief since marathon runners are skinny, consider that marathon runners also run hard 10 to 15+ miles a day: a grueling way to keep a thin body.

Calorie charts always show a huge number for jogging. But alas, it’s also for one hour’s worth! Overweight people jog and jog and jog and stay overweight. Paced jogging fails to produce a post-exercise after-burn.

Though jogging ranks high on those calorie-burn charts, and many people have, indeed, lost a lot of weight after taking up jogging ... the truth is that many others jog and jog and jog and still can’t get their stubborn excess weight to budge, even though they’ve been watching their portion sizes.


Replace with high intensity interval training. If you like to run, then sprint your fastest over a very short distance, then casually walk for two to four minutes, and repeat for eight cycles – truly sprinting your butt off.

If you don’t want to sprint but still want to jog, then jog hills as your intensity intervals. Jog up a hill as fast as possible for about half a minute or so, then walk down to recover. Repeat seven more times.

Stool Stepping While Pressing Dumbbells Overhead

Though many overweight people struggle with this exercise (at the personal trainer’s behest), this kind of struggling does not translate to a high calorie expenditure -- because the movement is still slow and lumbering.

To the poorly conditioned overweight person, so much balance and knee integrity are involved in this combo drill that it deceives them into thinking this will bust body fat to smithereens. Due to the difficulty, it’s impossible for one to use shoulder-challenging weights and move briskly up and down the stool.

The result is a slow, loppy movement with only light dumbbells: not enough to ignite major fat burning.


Replace with the squat-to-overhead press. Squat so that your thighs are parallel to the floor, while holding dumbbells or kettlebells at shoulder level. Then stand and press the weights overhead. Because you won’t have to worry about losing balance or stumbling, you’ll be able to focus much more on intensity. And the more intense an exercise, the more fat it burns.

Squat to Overhead Dumbbell Press
Squat to Overhead Dumbbell Press

Belly Dancing

Belly dance instructors have been known to advertise that their classes will burn stomach fat, shrink the stomach, trim the waistline, or words to that effect.

Many belly dance participants have trim midsections, but it’s also easy to imagine that women with plump middles aren’t exactly drawn to a class in which exposing the midsection is expected. Belly dancing, like jogging, is a form of steady state cardio, which is highly over-rated as a fat burner.


Replace with a “boot camp” or an intense step class. Though these have steady state components, they also include brief bursts of very intense activity.


This means floor, bench and machine versions. Crunches work only a few tiny muscle groups. How is this going to burn off the fat? To burn more fat, work a large muscle group. To burn the most fat, work several large muscle groups at once.

Which large muscle groups are worked doesn’t matter as far as burning belly fat, because when the body’s energy needs are raised, fat cells everywhere will shrink, and this includes in the stomach.


Replace with the deadlift. This exercise will blast fat without mercy when done intensely/heavily (master form first!), because it hits just about every muscle in the body (including the abs).

Last Words

There are many more popular exercises or forms of activity that people think burn a lot of fat, that in fact, are at the bottom of the heap in terms of calorie expenditure. Make the changes suggested in this article, however, and you will start seeing some big results.



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