The 8 best exercises to lose weight and gain muscle

The 8 best exercises to lose weight and gain muscle

If your goal is to burn fat and lose weight, focus on strength exercises that target your entire body. Full-body exercises are ideal because they train multiple muscle groups at once. This will save you time and energy. With the right approach to weight loss, you can burn fat and build muscle. Which helps you burn more calories, even at rest. Plus, you’ll strengthen your body and probably start to feel better mentally and physically in the process. Your results depend on the quality of effort you put into achieving your goals, so be consistent and disciplined in your approach.

Let’s take a look at some of the best weight loss exercises grouped for beginners, intermediate and advanced. Perform 2 to 5 sets of 6 to 15 repetitions for each exercise.

8 exercises to lose weight and gain muscle


You can modify this classic strength workout to suit your level and target different muscles as needed. Check out some push-up variations for beginners.

Begin lying on your stomach with your legs extended.
Place your palms on the floor directly under your shoulders.
Push through your hands and heels and lift your chest, torso and legs off the floor.
Engage your core by holding this position for a second.
Slowly return to the starting position.


You can do lunges with or without weights. Once you’ve perfected your form, you can move on to lunge variations.

From a standing position, step your right leg forward to make a 90-degree angle with your knee, making sure that your knee does not extend past your ankle.
Place the back knee so that it is parallel to the floor.
Pause before returning your right leg to the starting position.
Do the exercise on the opposite side.

Bodyweight Squats

Before moving on to dumbbells, work on perfecting your form with bodyweight squats. There are many squat variations to mix up your routine.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands at your sides.
Engage your core and expand your chest by pushing your hips back and down as if you were about to sit up.
Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Push through your legs to return to the starting position.

Intermediate exercises

Squat with dumbbells

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and place your feet hip-width apart.
Bend your arms so that one end of each weight is touching your shoulders.
From there, drop your hips down to almost squat.
Explosively push through your heels to rise to the starting position.

Chest work with dumbbells

You can also try this exercise with one arm.

Lie on your back on a bench (or for extra stability work on an exercise ball).
Place your hands above your chest and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
Extend your arms all the way to your sides, well above your shoulders.
Pause before lowering the weight back to the starting position.


If you want to change up your routine, you can always modify the burpees to make them easier or harder.

Stand up straight with your feet directly under your hips.
Squat down and place your hands on the floor under your shoulders.
Raise your legs into a push-up position.
Push before jumping
Extend your arms above your head and jump explosively.
Once you land, return to a squat.

Advanced exercises


Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with a barbell in front of your feet.
Lower your hips down and back slightly to lift the bar.
Push your hips forward to rise to a standing position.
Place the bar slightly below your hips.
Straighten your spine and bend your knees slightly.
Push your hips back, bend your knees and return to the starting position, lowering the bar to the floor.
If you want to target the muscles in a different way, you can perform this exercise with dumbbells, which gives you an additional challenge in terms of shoulder stability and grip.

Muscle bench

Lie on your back on a bench.
Place a dumbbell at chest level and hold it with your hands shoulder-width apart.
Engage your shoulders and core as you press the bar into the rack before lowering it until it touches your chest.
As you exhale, push the bar explosively back from the starting position.

How to create an exercise routine for weight loss

Create a routine to help you set and achieve realistic, safe and sustainable weight loss goals.

Here are some tips for creating an effective weight loss program:

Weekly goal

Try to exercise at least 200 minutes a week.

daily goal

Do physical activity every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes, instead of doing several long workouts each week.

Exercise order

Do the hardest exercises first at the beginning of each workout.

Training intensity

Increase the intensity of your workouts and go for heavier weights for weightlifting exercises.

Recovery time

Allow 24-48 hours for recovery between sessions targeting the same muscle groups.


Avoid fatigue and overwork by getting enough rest. This includes at least one full day of rest or light activity each week.


Get more sleep when you need to boost your energy levels.

Variety of exercises

Change up your workout at least once a month to avoid boredom and stagnation. This will allow you to keep your routine fresh and ensure that you are targeting different muscle groups.

Other types of training

In addition to weightlifting and strength training, engage in other types of exercise such as aerobics, balance and stretching.

What diet should I follow to lose weight and gain muscle?

Diet and exercise go hand in hand with weight loss. Along with your exercise routine, you should follow a healthy diet and reduce your calorie intake.

What is the recommended diet for weight loss?

A healthy diet

Choose healthy sources of protein, fiber and healthy fats and limit processed foods containing refined carbohydrates, salt and sugar.

Fruits and vegetables
Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.


Drink plenty of water, healthy drinks, and unfiltered coffee or green tea to stay hydrated, cleanse your system, and help you feel full and boost your metabolism. Provide healthy beverages such as herbal teas, coconut water, and vegetable juices.

Intermittent fasting

Experience intermittent fasting, which consists of cycles of fasting and eating to help you reduce your calorie intake without losing muscle mass.

Behavioral changes

Try changing your behavior, such as chewing more slowly, using smaller utensils, and controlling portion sizes. You can also eat mindfully without any distractions and stop eating before you feel full.

Losing weight and gaining muscle: patience and regularity

You can achieve your muscle building and weight loss goals if you have the courage, discipline and will to follow a healthy diet and exercise program. Remember that change takes time, so be patient as it may take several months to see results. To see weight loss results, commit to at least 30 minutes of exercise daily and make healthy changes to your diet.

To maintain your results, stick to your program even after you start seeing progress. Over time, you’ll feel more confident, healthier and stronger, which will motivate you to keep going.


Donnelly JE et al. (2013). Aerobic exercise alone results in clinically significant weight loss in men and women: The Midwest Exercise Study-2.

Vargo K. (2015). Weightlifting for weight loss.

Willoughby D, et al. (2018). Body composition changes during weight loss: Strategies and supplementation to maintain lean body mass, a brief overview.

* Presse Santé strives to convey knowledge about health in a language accessible to all. IN NO CIRCUMSTANCES can the information provided replace the advice of a medical professional.
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