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How To Workout To Burn Fat and Lose Weight

Updated on October 11, 2012

Achieving your personal fitness goals is not about conforming to a “one-size-fits-all- approach”. It’s about assessing what you want to get out of exercise, and comparing those ambitions to the science behind physical exertion. Sounds hard? Well it can get complicated, but it doesn’t really have to. I can assure you that a trainer endorsing his or her “ab machine” on the television or internet is not a personalized approach. How can it be? It’s designed to make as many sales to as many people as possible- it’s a mass approach, designed to illicit mass appeal. To avoid this pitfall/money hole/ultimate failure, let’s first talk about the common goal of weight loss and then we’ll discuss the method behind achieving it.

A Quick Note

Before we get started, I will point out that energy sources (where your body gets the energy for the exercise you are performing) are very important to consider. As a matter of fact, we can rely on energy source identification to recognize various approaches. This will give us a clue as to how you should workout to accomplish your goals.


Way too many people are scammed into buying products that are designed to make sales, not get results. This is largely due to the fact that most products lump different goals together: “get ripped”, lose weight”, “gain strength”, “obtain abs”, etc, etc. Do these results ever coincide? Yes, of course. But are they obtainable through a get-fit-quick one-size-fits-all product? NO (resounding). Healthy weight loss should be synonymous with burning fat. Unfortunately, many diets rely on some type of supplement that alters water weight, and doesn’t really address fat stores.

Why are you fat? How can you correct a problem if you don’t know why the problem exists? Well, honestly- you can’t. So, why are you fat? Simply put, you are consuming too many calories for the amount of activity that you perform. But why are calories relevant? Everybody talks about calories this, calories that, but do you know what makes calories important? Calories are relevant to weight loss because they imply energy. As a matter of fact, one calorie is defined as containing enough energy to heat 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. Just incase you’re not aware of this, excess energy is often stored as fat, although it is dependent to some extent on the type of calorie. Are you starting to see the correlation? Too many calories = too much energy = fat storage. It’s important that you understand that it’s the energy that runs the whole business.

Now some people see all calories as the same. They think that the calories from cheesecake have the same effect on your body as the calories from chicken or oatmeal. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Not all calories are created equal. Calories from sources of fat are typically stored as fat, since they have the same molecular structure as body fat. Fat also takes longer to be metabolized for energy, so it is burned as a result of aerobic exercise, or slower paced exertion of a longer duration, such as traditional cardio. Carbohydrates are converted into energy quicker than fats, and therefore are used during anaerobic exercise where energy is required at a much more demanding rate. This would be exercise of a fast, explosive nature: weightlifting, sprinting, power lifting and the like. However, the initial burst of energy is derived from energy simply contained in the muscle tissue. This first surge last about 10 seconds, and then the body relies upon glycogen (energy stored in the muscles) to provide energy.

So what does this mean if you’re trying to lose weight? It means 2 things: you need to be exercising to burn energy from 2 primary sources: carbohydrates and fats. And, you need to be viewing fats and carbohydrates as just that, sources of energy- but not simply sources of energy, sources of energy that can result in fat storage if you’re not using that energy. I mentioned earlier about how fat tends to be stored as fat and are used as energy during cardiovascular exercise. Well, carbohydrates can also be stored- stored first in the muscles as glycogen (good), and then what is not either stored as glycogen or used for energy is often stored as fat (bad). It is therefore important, as I noted previously, that you realize that both carbohydrates and fats can result in fat storage in the body.

So how do you exercise to burn energy from carbohydrates and fats? Read on to get the scoop.


Since carbohydrates are utilized for high intensity exercise, you burn energy from carbohydrates by exercising in an intense fashion. Weight training is one the best ways to burn energy from carbs. Remember though, that the initial burst of energy, lasting about 10 seconds is derived from energy already “hanging out” in the muscle tissue. You will burn more energy from carbohydrates as you proceed past this 10-second point. This means that you should lift a lower weight to ensure that you can perform many repetitions of the exercise, and therefore extend far beyond the 10-second period. Longer periods of explosive movements, such as plyometrics also provide resistance and are a great way to burn energy from carbohydrates.


Fats are not as quickly converted to energy, so the body will use them in less demanding situations than it will use energy from carbohydrates. This means traditional cardio. It is a very common practice to do cardio right after weight training in an effort to not get “chunky” and ensure that the muscle being gained is lean muscle tissue. However, performing cardio right after weight training can lead to muscle wasting, and is really not a good idea. You want to perform full-body workouts every other day, and cardio on your “off” days. This ensures that both methods of weight loss exercise are being employed. The cardio will help you slowly melt away fat deposits, while the resistance training will enable you to eat carbs without packing away unused energy as fat, and will help keep your metabolism elevated around the clock, which will also melt fat deposits off of your frame.

How To Exercise

Remember to prioritize compound movements. Squats, lunges, pushing exercises (like push-ups), and pulling exercises (like rows) are all major movements that incorporate multiple muscle groups and really help to rev-up your metabolism and burn fat. I see way to many weight loss clients being advised by their trainers to do tricep extensions to “tone the back of the arm”. This method of isolating fat is called spot reduction and is practically useless. It does not fit in with what we know about metabolism and burning energy to regulate body fat percentage. Some exercise programs are better than others, but you can’t go wrong with compound exercises. Learning what to eat, how it effects your metabolism, and what you need to do in the gym based on the science of energy, is your ticket to effective weight loss and finding a routine that works for you in the long run.


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    • Golfgal profile image

      Golfgal 5 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      I couldn't agree with you more. /calories are not alike, and building muscle does burn more calories. I can loose size without loosing a lot pounds by building a little more muscle especially to the upper body as a woman.

    • jclaffee profile image

      Jesse Claffee 5 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      Alphadogg16- thank you; you're so right. There's a lot of unreasonable expectations out there when it comes to weight loss.

      stevso- thank you, quality research and experience are key!

    • steveso profile image

      Steve 5 years ago from Brockport, NY

      Very good Hub with honest and useful information.

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 5 years ago from Texas

      Very nice Hub, people need to understand how the body works & dropping a ridiculous amount of weight in a short period time is neither feasible or healthy.