An expert trainer says these are the best three exercises for weight loss

Torch calories and build muscle with this simple but effective workout

Cropped view of a sportman and sportswoman doing weighted lunges in a brightly lit gym
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to lose weight, you need to maintain a calorie deficit, which means that you need to burn more calories than you consume. That's an overly simplistic way of looking at weight loss, though; picking the right foods, increasing your water intake and getting adequate sleep can all play a role in weight loss, too. 

Strength training exercises can also help with weight loss. That's because this style of workout can help you build muscle—and the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn, even when you're resting.

We asked Jo Burland, a NASM-certified personal trainer and Bio-Synergy ambassador, for the best three exercises for calorie burn and muscle building.

“I’d go for goblet squats, bent over rows and jumping lunges,” she told Fit&Well

These three moves will strengthen multiple muscle groups at the same time; they are intense, high-energy exercises that elevate your heart rate and burn calories. 

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Three move full-body workout

  • Goblet squats: 10-12 repetitions x 3-4 rounds
  • Bent-over rows: 10-12 repetitions x 3-4 rounds
  • Jumping lunges: 10-12 repetitions x 3-4 rounds

Aim for 45-60 seconds rest between sets. And don’t forget to spend at least five minutes warming up before the main workout and cooling down after.

How to do the exercises

Goblet squats

Woman performing goblet squat in gym

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets: 3-4 Reps: 10-12 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell or kettlebell close to your chest with both hands. 
  • Lower your body by bending at the hips and knees, keeping your back straight and chest up. Descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground. 
  • Push through your heels to return to the starting position. 

Burland told Fit&Well: “Goblet squats target large muscle groups like the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes, increasing calorie expenditure.”

Bent-over rows

Man doing dumbbell row in gym

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with feet hip-width apart. Hinge at the hips, keeping your back straight, and lower your torso until it is almost parallel to the ground.
  • Pull the dumbbells to your chest by bending your elbows, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Lower the weights back to the starting position. 

Burland says: “Bent-over rows engage the muscles in your back, shoulders and arms, requiring significant energy expenditure."

Jumping lunges

Woman doing lunge in gym

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets: 3-4 Reps: 10-12 

  • Start in a lunge position with one foot forward and the other foot back, both knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Jump explosively, switching the positions of your feet in mid-air. Land softly and descend back into a lunge position. Then repeat, switching legs with each jump. 

“Jumping lunges are a high-intensity exercise that elevates your heart rate rapidly, leading to increased calorie burn,” says Burland. “The explosive nature of the movement engages the lower body muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, making it an efficient calorie-burning exercise.” 

Weight loss tips

Choose exercises you enjoy: This increases the likelihood that you'll stick to your workout routine long term.

Create a schedule: Consistency is key. Set aside specific times for your workouts to make them part of your routine.

Combine exercise with proper nutrition: Physical activity and a balanced diet go hand in hand for effective weight loss. Focus on nutrient-dense foods and stay hydrated.

Follow the progressive overload principle: As your fitness improves, challenge yourself with more intense workouts to continue seeing progress, either by doing more sets/reps and/or increasing the weights that you are working with.

Include a mix of cardio and strength training: Both are essential for overall health and weight management. Cardio burns calories, while strength training builds muscle and boosts metabolism. 

Need help choosing some weights for your strength training? See our round-up of the best adjustable dumbbells

Maddy Biddulph

Maddy Biddulph is a freelance journalist specializing in fitness, health and wellbeing content. With 25 years in consumer media, she has worked as a writer and editor for some of the bestselling newspapers, magazines and websites in the US and UK. 


She is also a qualified L3 personal trainer and weight loss advisor, and helps women over 40 navigate menopause by improving their physical and mental strength. At Maddy Biddulph Personal Training, she runs one-to-one and small group training for menopausal women who want to get fit to ease symptoms and feel like themselves again.