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Short on Time? Fast Fat Burning by Working the Large Muscle Groups

You’re short on time, but you need to burn fat, and burn it fast. What’s your best option? You could head outdoors and run, but you’d have to jog for an hour to maximize the amount of  you fat burning. What if you don’t have time for that? The secret to fat burning fast is to exercise hard enough to harness the power of the after-burn.

Short on Time? Fast Fat Burning by Working the Large Muscle Groups

So, what the heck is the after-burn anyway?

After-burn refers to the additional calories your body uses to recover from an intense workout. After a high-intensity workout, your body burns more calories and body fat for hours or even days after your workout ends. You don’t get that additional calorie burn when you exercise at a moderate intensity. That’s why a short, intense workout can give you more fat-burning benefits than a longer, less intense one.

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Short on Time? Work the Large Muscle Groups for Fast Fat Burning

To combine fat burning with strength training, you don’t have to spend an hour at the gym. Do a circuit workout that targets large muscle groups in the back, chest and legs. When you work large muscle groups, you’ll burn more calories. Incorporate as many muscle groups into a given exercise as possible by focusing on exercises that use multiple joints and muscles. These are called compound exercises.

Compound Exercises

Compound exercises not only burn more calories than exercises than isolation exercises like biceps curls, they also boost levels of fat-burning hormones like testosterone and growth hormone. This helps you burn more fat while building strength at the same time.

Examples of compound exercises that recruit multiple muscle groups include deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, push-ups, bench press and lunges. If you do these exercises, you’ll be getting an effective workout for your upper and lower body. If you move through them quickly with minimal rest between sets you’ll boost the calorie burn more and get your workout done in less time.

Short on Time? Fast Fat Burning by Working the Large Muscle Groups

Add Some Cardio

You can combine strength training with cardio to save even more time. After doing a compound strength training exercise, do a brief cardio segment. Jump on the elliptical machine or treadmill and put it to work, do jumping jacks, plyometric jumps or jump rope for 60 seconds before proceeding to the next strength training exercise. This kind of combination workout burns more body fat in less time. Using this method, you can get a full body workout with cardio in 30 minutes. Even busy people can spare that amount of time.

The Bottom Line for Fat Burning?

If you want to burn fat fast, and you have limited time, focus on compound exercises that work the large muscle groups and alternate them with brief periods of cardio. It’s a tough workout, but it gets the job done even when you have limited time to work out.


  • On Fitness. January/Feb. 2011. “The Body Fat Blitz Workout”
  • Exercise Physiology. Seventh Edition. Powers and Howley. 2009. 

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