If your idea of a fat loss workout involves running miles and miles or hours spent on the stepper or elliptical, it's time to get your head into the weight training game. Lifting weights should be the cornerstone of any female fat loss routine, writes Cassandra Forsythe in "The New Rules of Lifting for Women." For lower-body training, fat loss exercises don't come much better than front squats with dumbbells.
You'll need a pair of dumbbells for front squats. Start light if you've never done the exercise before. You can use heavier weights later on, but developing proper form is essential first off. Hold the dumbbells at shoulder-height and stand with your feet about hip-width apart, knees and toes turned out slightly. Push your butt back as if you were going to sit down into a chair and bend your knees so you descend as low as possible and then push back up. Keep your torso upright and don't let the dumbbells pull you forward.
The idea that you can spot reduce fat from specific areas is a myth. However, the main reason why dumbbell front squats are such an effective fat loss exercise is because of the number of muscles they work. Because you target several muscle groups while performing compound moves like front squats, you're burning a large number of calories, which leads to fat loss greater fat loss, notes strength coach Rachel Cosgrove. Like any squatting variation, they hit your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves. Due to the position of the dumbbells, they also give you a tough core workout at the same time, as your abs and lower-back have to work hard to stabilize your whole body. Because the squats are also a cardiovascular activity, you have a real fat loss winner in this exercise.
You can perform dumbbell front squats as part of a lower-body or full-body workout. To get an increased calorie burn and extra fat loss benefits, include them as part of a metabolic circuit. Cosgrove recommends performing exercises for 40 to 60 seconds and alternating between upper-body and lower-body movements. A sample circuit could start with dumbbell front squats, which are followed by push-ups, then body weight lunges and lastly dumbbell rows. Complete three rounds, resting for 30 to 60 seconds in between circuits.
If you're completely new to weight training, or are coming back to exercise after some time away, perform squats without any weight to begin with. For those looking for an extra challenge, increase the weight or the reps and sets. No best repetition range for fat loss exists, but aim for three to four challenging sets of eight to 12 reps when not performing squats as part of a circuit. Try barbell front squats, too. Hold a barbell across the front of your shoulders with your elbows high and squat down as low as possible while maintaining a good back position, advises London-based strength coach Sally Moss. Alternate between dumbbell and barbell variations each workout.
- The New Rules of Lifting for Women; Cassandra Forsythe and Lou Schuler; December 2007
- American Council on Exercise: Dumbbell Front Squat
- Gubernatrix: How-To: Front Squat
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.