In the ongoing battle to lose fat, you have to arm yourself with all the right tools. That's why choosing the right exercises is so important. Compound exercises -- exercises involving two or more joints -- are one of the best ways to burn body fat. Compound exercises can be perforned with or without weights.
An example of a weighted compound exercise is the bench press, because it uses your shoulder and elbow to complete the movement. Its body-weight counterpart, the pushup, is also a compound exercise because it uses these same joints. The dumbbell curl, on the other hand, doesn't fit the bill because only the elbow joint moves. Compound exercises can be done on machines -- the lat pulldown is a common compound exercise. Because compound exercises involve more than one joint, they have a slightly larger learning curve. But their benefits for fat loss more than make up for this.
The Role of Oxygen
Compound exercises create a sustained calorie burn immediately after the workout. This is because more joints are involved, and this makes the exercises more taxing. After you finish exercising, your body is using oxygen at a higher rate as part of the process of recovering from the workout. This is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Because you're using more oxygen, it also means that you're using more calories. Dr. Len Kravitz, a researcher at the University of New Mexico, says that EPOC should be viewed as a method of reducing fat that has a cumulative effect over time.
Long-Term Metabolism Boost
Compound exercises help you build fat-burning muscles. Compound exercises involve more muscles, which will stimulate more muscle fibers. Shannon Clark, personal trainer and fitness writer, says that because compound exercises stimulate more muscle fibers, they cause a greater hormone release; these hormones contribute to muscle growth. According to the American Council on Exercise, muscle is partly responsible for your metabolism -- how fast your body burns calories. Increasing the amount of muscle you have increases your metabolism, which makes it easier to burn fat.
Before starting any exercise program, consult your doctor. Warm up before beginning the workout by doing five to 10 minutes of cardio to raise your heart rate. Then do a few light sets of the exercise to get more blood flow to the muscles and joints. When you're working out, stop if anything is uncomfortable or is causing pain, and master the movement before adding weight. Work out with a personal trainer to get a customized workout that will prevent injuries.
Carl Galloway is a strength-and-conditioning coach at a high school in Southern California. He is certified as an Olympic lifting coach through USA Weightlifting and as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Galloway holds a bachelor's degree in kinesiology and a master's degree in coaching and athletic administration.