5 Calorie-Torching Strength Moves That Boost Weight Loss

by Mackenzie L. Havey
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5 Calorie-Torching Strength Moves That Boost Weight Loss

When it comes to strength training, knowing what to do can be more challenging than knowing how to do it. We all understand that resistance training can play an important role in everything from weight loss and maintenance to building lean mass and overall fitness, but you may still find yourself asking, “How do I actually create a strength-training program that helps me meet my individual goals?”

If your main objective is weight loss, focusing on compound exercises is a great place to start. Resistance training is often broken down into two categories: isolation and compound exercises. While isolation exercises employ movements that involve a single joint, like a biceps curl, compound exercises require the use of multiple joints, like a squat to overhead press, done in one fluid movement.

While both isolation and compound exercises are important for overall fitness, the latter are usually favored when weight loss is the goal. Compound movements require you to utilize multiple muscle groups, thereby offering a greater total-body workout in less time. When you’re looking to shed a few pounds, the more muscles you can work, the more calories you burn. Compound strength training also offers additional benefits, like improved balance, enhanced coordination and increased joint stability.

Even better, these exercises can be done in the comfort of your own home with a simple set of dumbbells. Done 2–3 times per week in conjunction with some cardio training, research shows that you can both shed fat and gain muscle simultaneously, something that cardio workouts alone can’t do as efficiently.


Start out with one set of this routine and graduate to 2–3 sets as you get stronger. Remember that you should finish each exercise feeling somewhat tired but not so fatigued that you can’t maintain proper form. If you think your technique is suffering, reduce either the dumbbell weight or the number of reps.


Works: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, biceps, shoulders, upper back
Complete: 8–12 reps
How: Hold a weight — either a kettlebell or dumbbell held vertically — at chest height. With your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees and lower your backside down into a squat. Keep your knees in line with your feet and your abs pulled in. As you stand back up, press the weight over your head in a smooth movement before returning it to your chest.


Works: Abs, lower back, hips, glutes
Complete: 8–12 per side
How: On your hands and knees, situate your knees beneath your hips and your hands beneath your shoulders. Pull in your abs as you raise and extend your right arm out in front of your body. At the same time, raise your left leg and extend it directly behind your body. After extending, bring your right hand and left knee to meet beneath your torso and repeat. Then switch sides.


Works: Quads, biceps
Complete: 8–12 per side
How: Standing with a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, step forward with your right leg, and lower your body down until your left knee nearly touches the ground. As you return to the starting position, curl the dumbbells up toward your chest. Bring them back down to your sides, and repeat on the other side.


Works: Abs, obliques, lower back, quads
Complete: 15 per side
How: Take the position you would for a normal crunch with your hands resting lightly behind your head. Be careful not to pull on your head and neck during this exercise. Take your feet off the floor and bend your knees to 45-degree angles. As you lift your head and shoulders off the ground, engage your core and draw in your right knee toward your chest, meeting it with your left elbow in a slight twisting motion. Bring that leg and arm back to the starting position, and alternate sides.


Works: Quads, hamstrings, abs, deltoids, pecs, triceps
Complete: 8–12
How: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down, put your hands down on the floor and step back into a push-up position. Do a push-up and then step your feet back to your hands one at a time. As you come back to the starting position, jump up into the air and then repeat the entire sequence in a continuous movement.


  • Good article. It can easily be done at home, no need to go to a gym however, the motivation and reason why you need to lose weight has to be answered first. Without it, there is a high likelihood these exercises will be done but then the regime will stop. It is widely known how so many people join the gym within the first 3 months of each year (and throughout) only to never go back to them again. Choose your ‘why ‘ and then the exercises in this article will propel your efforts

  • Sean Anderson

    I have been doing this with the strong lifts 5×5 plan. I bought a cheap used Olympic weight set, power rack, and bench and have been using the strong lifts app as a guide. The results have been awesome. Three hours a week and I feel like a million bucks. Been tracking my food as well and the inches have disappeared. It is all sustainable….not a diet, not bunch of wasted time in the gym. There is no way in my opinion to start out strength training in a gym….far too many distractions for something that requires meditation. Compound for the win.

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  • Gail

    I had a full right knee replacement last November. I am recovering really well. I did the 4 week in home PT. then 7 week at a PT center. Now I am on my own trying to find a daily workout routine that will help me stay in shape. This looks like a good one. I just completed 1 set of 12 reps each. The beginner burpees had me breathing hard though. So I only did 8. How many reps should I complete a day & how many days a week should I do this routine?

    • Carrie

      3-5 sets of each of the workouts is generally a good goal. If you can do it at least 3 times a week, that will help you see some benefits.

      • Gail

        Thank you Carrie!

  • I’m sorry, but I work full time in fitness as a trainer and as a registered and licensed dietitian only working with clients everyday and have been doing so for 4 years now. I also have a BS and MEd in kinesiology. I do not see people lose weight from exercising. The research doesn’t support that either (the article linked to shows waist circumference change, only a 0.5 kg change in weight…ie about 1.1 lbs with moderate to vigorous AEROBIC activity–this article is not about aerobics either, nor is 1.1 lbs significant (likely water weight changes due to carbohydrate depletion with aerobic activity). The other article linked to says that resistance training doesn’t result in weight loss (and it is linked to in your own article). The results show it results in weight gain (lean mass).

    Please support this article with evidence that doing these exercises will “cause weight loss.” It is completely frustrating trying to teach people that exercise isn’t a good weight loss method when these sorts of articles are printed on a website many people go to for fitness information. This article is fluff and full of keyword SEO crap.

    Explain to me why as a trainer, do I not lose weight when I am literally on my feet all day and eat the same calories (yes, I weigh and measure), nor do I have any weight changes when I am working less with clients during slow times of the year but still eat the same calories? I stay the same weight if not gain weight due to muscle gain (which I like). You have to make dietary changes to lose weight. The only way exercise makes you lose weight is if you are going from no exercise (sedentary) to some exercise. Then you see some very mild weight loss that will plateau immediately.

    • Adrian

      Obviously you have to be in a deficit to loose weight. The article is trying to emphasize which and what type of exercises would help in losing weight faster. Hence the title”5 calorie torching exercise that boost weight loss”. Before making a judgement understand the article first.

      • The premise is incorrect. It doesn’t result in faster weight loss. It slows it. It even says so if you read those articles linked. Then they post it as the opposite to attract attention.
        And it is lose. Not loose… Sigh.

        • jkeeney60

          So Joey give me articles to read to lose weight Help us understand it

        • Amanda Miller

          I believe you are basing the premise of it slowing weight loss on a person of average weight/metabolism. Although not outright stated, this article appears to be directed at those who have trouble losing weight who may have a slower metabolism. This can be the result of lower lean muscle mass and yes, while there will be an initial increase in weight or no weight loss while the muscle is built up, the end result is a higher resting metabolic state, resulting in increased weight loss.

          • peace65

            Exactly. No one complains about their weight when they are fit, people don’t come to gym to lose muscle. We complain when we are out of shape with bulging stomach and buttocks, which is due to unhealthy habit for which strength straining is pivital.

        • peace65

          Please stay on topic, – no need for spell check. I believe exercise is crucial for maintaining healthy weight to reverse obesity. I also believe dieting is the false way to lose weight. Gaining weight is the body way of telling you that something is out of balance, it could be hormonal, nutritional, sedentary imbalance unless you address these issues, nothing will work-no magic bullet. Yes, exercise is key on maintaining healthy body mass, who cares if you gain weight, because of muscle mass if you look and feel good.

    • Jimmy Hightshoe

      Joey, I’ve lost significant weight twice with exercise. 1st around age 38 I went from 215 to 190 over a 6 month period using a Bowflex and walking, while also quitting a 1 1/2 to 2 pack a day smoking habit. Diet did not change during that period. I’m married to an Italian so a lot of pasta, sauces, meatballs, sausage, breads. At about 42 I went into a gym and started lifting and using elliptical trainers over the next several years. I changed my diet towards fish and veggies and settled in between 180 and 185. I had also started smoking again about 1/2 pack or less per day. I finally got tired of fighting gym crowds and set up a home gym with an elliptical, weight machine, Bowflex Revolution and Dumbbells. I received P90X through someone who bought it and didn’t like Tony. I do not follow the DVD’s but I’ve incorporated the concept of working muscle groups and changing those monthly but never committed to the ninety day program. At best I logged around 15 hours a month of workouts. Last year I learned I have the beginning stages of atherosclerosis and have no desire to spend the rest of my life on medication. I quit smoking for good. I committed to the 90 days although still using my workouts instead of following the DVD’s other than Yoga X, X Stretch and Ab Ripper X. I went beyond actually and logged 149 hours of exercise from June thru November. Weight lifting 3 days, 2 days of elliptical 42 minutes with Ab Ripper X, 1 day of Yoga X, and 1 day of X Stretch. I lost another 15 pounds. The only change in diet was eliminating added sugar, Gatorade and “health” bar snacks and replacing them with water. apples, oranges, and bananas for snacks. Cholesterol decreased from 214 to 183. I’m now in the health BMI range (5′ 10″, 167 lbs.) for the first time since my 20’s. December and January I eased up to about 20 hours a month and lost February due to a bout with calcium oxalate kidney stones but I’m back at it starting another cycle. My point would be you can lose weight with exercise if you have weight to lose.

    • BuzzPreston

      Joey, I agree with you 100%, but you are fighting a losing battle. This is just typical MFP crap. Many of their nutrition article still advocate low fat and high carb. You’re wasting valuable brain cells trying to enlighten this bunch.

    • Zoe

      Joey, regardless of the efficacy of this article if you believe in your work as a trainer and dietician you should look into heart rate training it will demonstrate to you measurably how exercise can contribute to weight loss. An accurate heart rate monitor is an excellent BS meter for optimal training intensity.

  • SmilerMe

    Thank you. After being disappointed by the last few (weak) ‘articles,’ this one was refreshing and much more well written and described. Content was relevant and helpful. Even though I know these and have done them, this was a great reminder and easy to visualize. Thanks again.

  • mary

    I have to say that this set of exercises gives quite a workout. Since I’m logging everything into MFP, how would you recommend that I count for these exercises? Would you consider them circuit training or strength?

  • Contemplate Now

    The bird dogs and bicycle crunch are not strength moves much less “calorie torching”. There’s just too much bad info disseminated in the exercise industry