In this guide we’re doing a recap of all the best home gym gear out there with one goal in mind: weight loss. We’ll dive into the latest method to shift calories, and which machines you should be looking at to do it.
The amount of people using their home as a gym is on the rise, with more people making the jump to avoiding the risks of commercial gyms and training in and around their homes instead.
But burning fat, especially when you can’t head outside, can be surprisingly tricky. But it doesn’t have to be. Here’s what you need to know:
Remember this easy trick to burning fat
Burning fat is surprisingly simple, in theory. It really only takes one thing.
Burn more calories than you consume.
Ignoring all the hyperbolic advice and all of the different exercise plans, diets, and everything else people try to lose fat, that’s literally it.
That’s all you need to do. Put yourself into a calorie deficit.
But there are different ways to do this, and cardio is one of the most efficient methods for losing fat, as long as you’re doing it the right way.
The different kinds of cardio
When you exercise, you’re either exercising aerobically or anaerobically. Both affect your body differently, and depending on your goals, you’re going to want to focus more on one over the other.
Aerobic exercise is exercise that’s performed at low to moderate intensity, over a decently long period of time. Aerobic exercise requires a lot of oxygen in your body, hence the name, and generally works on building up muscle endurance and the cardiovascular system.
Aerobic exercise examples you can do at home
- Running on a treadmill
- Going for it on an exercise bike
- Using a rowing machine
- A HIIT dumbbell workout
Aerobic and anaerobic exercise examples at home
Anaerobic exercise is the complete opposite of aerobic exercise, and it’s categorised by short periods of intense activity.
Anaerobic exercise boosts the size and strength of muscles. It’s the type of exercise you should be looking for when you’re looking to gain mass and strength.
Anaerobic exercise examples at home
- Explosive bodyweight exercises, like box jumps or pull ups
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) cardio
Why this matters: How your body burns fat
The reason it’s important to distinguish between both types of exercise is because of how your body processes fat, and how you burn calories.
Your resting metabolism
Everybody has an average resting metabolic rate, (also called basal metabolic rate.) This is how many calories your body needs to maintain itself and it’s current weight if you continue living the life you live now, with the same level of physical activity.
Everybody’s basal metabolic rate is different, and there are a lot of things that can affect it, including:
- Your sex. Men’s metabolic rates tend to be slightly higher (around 160 calories daily, versus 1400 for women.)
- Age. The older you get, the more your metabolism slows down.
- Level of physical activity
- Muscle mass
The last two are what we’re interested in. Particularly muscle mass.
Muscle mass and calories
For every pound of muscle mass you have, you passively burn between 7 and 10 calories per day.
However, every pound of fat only burns between 2 and 3 calories per day.
This means if you can put on 5lbs of muscle mass, you’re going to passively burn another 50 calories per day.
That’s 350 calories per week, or 1400 calories per month. Almost a day’s caloric intake, burn passively, because you put on a few pounds of muscle.
This means, ironically, that one of the best ways to lose weight, at least in the way that people generally mean it, which is losing fat, is to put on some extra good weight.
Training for strength and muscle mass using cardio
As we’ve already discussed, there’s two ways to train, and if you’re looking to maximise fat loss, you need to be training for strength and power.
Cardio isn’t traditionally the best way to train for strength, but there are definite methods that you can use to train for strength and mass using cardio.
Strength training on a bike
If you’ve ever seen the thighs of a professional cyclist, it’s obvious that training on a stationary bike can have some impressive muscle gains.
The inherent problem with a bike is no matter what you do, you’re only working out your lower body.
This is hard to overcome without mixing in extra exercises. A good overall workout for fat loss on a bike could look something like:
- Warm up
- Intense intervals for 10 minutes
- A 30 minute slow cardio workout
- 3 sets of bodyweight exercises or dumbbell exercises, focusing on the upper body, with things like push ups, pull ups or shoulder presses.
If you’ve struggled to keep to a routine on your exercise bike in the past, you might want to check out the Pro-form range, which use the awesome iFit.
Full body workouts using a cross trainer
Cross trainers, sometimes called ellipticals, are an incredibly popular and useful form of cardio, because they naturally train the whole body without having to do anything special. A standard cross trainer work out hits up to 80% of your body’s muscle, with particular focus on the larger muscles of the lower body.
Ellipticals are also great because they are a relatively low impact form of working out, which means you’re less likely to feel it on your joints and back after a long sessions.
To increase muscle on a cross trainer, crank the resistance up as high as you can. Your movements will be slower, but fighting against the resistance of the machine will work similarly to lifting small weights for high repetitions.
If you’re just interested in some good machines for toning your legs, try this guide.
If you can’t decide, check out our guide: Treadmills vs. Ellipticals.
The benefits of a rowing machine
Rowing machines are a fantastic form of cardio, but also have strength benefits built in, because you’re using your entire body.
Remember to focus on using all of your muscles. Beginners on a rowing machines have a tendency to focus either heavily on their legs to push, or on their arms and shoulders to pull. Make sure that everything is working in concert by using low resistance before cranking up that resistance for maximum fat burning.
If you’re looking for a budget rowing machine, check this guide.
How long should you run on a treadmill to lose belly fat?
When it comes to how long you should be running on a treadmill to burn fat, it’s not really a question of time. It’s a question of the type of training you’re doing. There are two types of training, aerobic and anaerobic. If you’re trying to burn fat, you’re look to train anaerobically, which means things like intervals or sprints.
Start by warming up for 5 minutes at a steady pace. Then switch to running at about 80-90% of your max for 30s. Slow back down to a jogging pace for 1 minute, and repeat this cycle of intense exercise followed by slow warm down 5 times.
Make sure to cool down after, and you’re sure to start seeing belly fat melt away. In fact, studies on this particular form of exercise showed that people using HIIT training lost up to 9 times more fat than lower intensity training. And you’re never too old to start running either.
See some of the best treadmills on the market for under £1000.
Realistically, if you’re looking to be as fit and healthy as possible, you should look to integrate both types of training into your program, as they both have huge benefits.
Use HIIT training to gain strength and melt away fat, and LISS training to increase cardiovascular fitness and overall health.
Thanks for reading. If you’ve got any tips or experience with this sort of training, make sure to share it in the comments below!
References and further reading
- What’s the best cardio machine to slim thighs?
- Cardio vs weight training for burning fat
- Christie Aschwanden – Most effective cardio workouts, according to science
- NCBI – The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity in Weight Loss and Maintenance
- Matthew A. Nystoriak* and Aruni Bhatnagar – Cardiovascular Effects and Benefits of Exercise
- Aaron Kandola – What are the best exercises for weight loss?