Can Workout Routines Burn Fat in Specific Areas of the Body?

Let's face it. In an ideal world, we could workout to burn fat and lose weight only in our problem areas.

Nearly everyone is dissatisfied with some area of their body and wants to work out only to slim those targeted areas. The most common spots are the thighs, butt, waistline, belly, and arms - as these areas tend to store excess body fat. But does a workout plan to burn fat only in these targeted areas work?

Targeting specific areas of fat in the body is referred to as “spot reduction.” Unfortunately, the effectiveness of this type of training is mixed at best. However, there are more efficient methods of melting away fat and sculpting muscles.

To better understand why targeted fat burning workouts don't work, let's take a look at how fat loss happens during exercise.


How Fat Burning Works During Exercise

Fat burning works the same for everyone. Fat is stored in your cells as triglycerides, which the body can burn for energy. To enter the bloodstream for energy, triglycerides have to be broken down into free fatty acids and glycerol.

When you exercise, the fuel created from these free fatty acids and glycerol come from anywhere in the body, not just from the area you're working out. There have been several studies that demonstrate that when fat loss does occur, spot reduction doesn't work for targeting fat in specific areas. (1), (2), (3), (4).

So, if workout routines to burn fat in specific areas don't work, then how do you get a proportionately fit body and into extraordinary shape?

Targeted Toning With Fat Burning Workouts

The bad news is that spot reduction isn't that effective at burning fat in specific areas of the body. However, the great news is that toning the underlying muscles combined with calorie-scorching workouts can produce amazing results.

Muscles may be strengthened and defined by specific toning workouts, but they don't burn many calories on their own. You can do all the crunches in the world, but you won’t lose belly fat until you burn calories and lose body weight overall.

This is why heart rate accelerating routines and high-intensity interval training, known as HIIT, are your best friends for fat burning, body sculpting, and weight loss.

The Best Workout Routines to Burn Fat and Tone the Body

When you work out, you want the most return on your investment. Therefore, the most effective workout plan will include movements that simultaneously engage multiple, large groups of muscles and elevate the heart rate into the high-intensity zone.

Workout plans that include total body strength training and high-intensity interval training are ideal for burning fat, losing weight, and toning muscles fast. Here are a few reasons why.

Regardless of intensity, aerobic exercise:


  • Strengthens the respiratory muscles.
  • Increases red blood cells, enabling greater oxygenation throughout the body.
  • Strengthens the heart muscle, improving resting and pumping efficiency.
  • Reduces stress and improves well-being.
  • Improves circulation.

High-intensity aerobic activity, at 70-85 percent of maximum heart rate:

  • Burns more total calories and fat, resulting in weight loss.
  • Increases metabolic rate, during and post-workout, more than lower intensity exercise.
  • Improves strength, endurance, and athletic performance.

Getting Started with Fat Burning Workout Routines

Before moving into high-intensity interval training routines, it's important to warm up with moderate aerobic activity to slowly increase your heart rate for 10 to 15 minutes. Aerobic exercises, referred to as cardio, perfect for warming up includes:

  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Walking
  • Rowing


These aerobic workouts use the largest muscle groups resulting in the most significant amount of fuel (calories) needed to burn to execute them.

Once your muscles and heart are warmed up, then move on to your higher intensity workout routines. This includes exercising in the upper percentage of your maximum heart rate, 70% or higher, to burn more total calories and fat.

To track your heart rate, you can use a heart rate monitor. If you don't have one, don't worry. You'll know you're in the upper percentage of your maximum heart rate when your breathing is quick and you can't maintain a conversation. In other words, you'll feel like you're working very hard.

Creating the Best Fat Burning Workout Routines

The most effective workouts for burning fat and losing weight include one or a combination of the following:

  • Cardiovascular exercise, such as running, cycling, walking, and rowing. These exercises all use large muscle groups and burn a lot of calories. They're also particularly efficient at melting stubborn belly fat.
  • High-intensity interval training, or HIIT: This includes a brief period of heart rate accelerating activity, immediately followed by a recovery period, and repeated multiple times in one workout. HIIT is better at fat burning than cardio exercise alone (5).
  • Whole-body exercises: These are exercises that use the entire body and all muscles groups. A classic example is Burpees, which combines jumps and push-ups repeatedly. Whole-body exercises burn more calories and fat than targeted muscle toning workouts.
  • Combination exercises: Combining cardio exercise and resistance training is more effective for weight loss and fat burning than one type of exercise alone (6).

The following seven workout routines will give you the most value for your workout minutes. They're the most effective at burning fat overall while toning muscles in targeted areas of the body.

The Top 7 Fat-Burning and Muscle Toning Workout Routines

Cardio Combined with HIIT

Whether you run, cycle, row, or walk, you can shed fat and tone when you add some HIIT into your cardio. It's simple, and it works.

Between 20 to 45 minutes of your workout, alternate going faster to get your heart rate up and then rest. A good ratio to begin with for intensity and rest is 1:2. Therefore, exert as much effort as you can for 20 to 90 (if you're advanced) seconds and then rest for 40 seconds to 3 minutes. Repeat for 20 to 45 minutes of your workout plan.

No, you wouldn't do HIIT every day you hit the track. But it's a dynamic way to spice up your cardio routine for accelerated fat-burning.



Burpees are a classic for a reason. They seem simple because they can be done anywhere without equipment. But simple doesn't mean easy. Burpees are a powerful, whole-body exercise that strengthens and tones the core, the entire upper body, and legs simultaneously for maximum calorie burn.

Begin by placing your hands on the floor. Jump back to plank and lower down to hover just above the floor in a low push-up position. Press back up to plank with a push-up and jump the feet to the hands. Finish with your arms high and a jump up. Start with 2 or 3 sets of 5 to 10 Burpees.

Don't be fooled; they aren't as easy as the name sounds.

Step Up Jumps

Step Up Jumps is an excellent, high-intensity plyometric workout to keep in your fat-blasting arsenal. The explosive movements improve your aerobic and muscular endurance plus strengthens and sculpts the hips, legs, and glutes.

Stand tall with arms at your sides and your left foot on a secure bench or box so that your hip, knee, and ankle make a 90-degree angle. Push down through your left foot and lift your body up with enough force for both feet to fly off the bench. Quickly switch feet in the air and land with your right foot on the bench and left foot on the ground. Continue as you alternate legs with each rep.

Stay focused on keeping your chest open and landing softly with this lower-body sculpting exercise.


Jumping Lunges

Jumping Lunges are a great alternative to Step Up Jumps if you don't have a bench or box handy. They're heart rate elevating and make incredible calorie and fat burners. Plus, they strengthen and tone the entire lower body and improve coordination.

Begin in a lunge position. Place one foot in front of the other and bend at the knees so the front leg is approximately at a 90-degree angle. Use your legs to jump off the ground, straighten the legs, and switch the position of your feet in mid-air. Land gently in a lunge with the opposite legs in front and back.

Focus on engaging your core strength to land softly. Combine Jumping Lunges with Burpees, and you'll have an entire body sculpting workout right in your living room.

Jumping Squats

Another equipment-free, challenging plyometric exercise for building explosive speed and sculpting the entire lower body is the Jumping Squats.

Stand tall with feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower into a squat with your thighs slightly higher than your knees and arms out front. Quickly jump up for maximum height and raise arms high. In mid-air, your body is straight, but land in the same squat position.

Beginners can modify by doing stationary squats without the jump before progressing to small jumps. For more of a challenge, you can jump onto elevated platforms or hold onto light dumbbells. Please avoid putting too much stress on the knee joints by avoiding too many jumps in one session. Try alternating them with other exercises.

Jackknife Crunches

Say goodbye to belly fat. Jackknife Crunches are a challenging but extraordinary abdominal strengthener. What makes them unique is that they work both the upper and the hard-to-target lower abs for maximum toning.

Lie down on your back with your arms extended above your head, and your legs stretched long. In one motion, lift your shoulders off the ground and reach your hands toward your legs, bringing your knees towards your chest. Focus on using your abdominal muscles instead of lifting your hips. Maintain a back straight as you lower the back and legs to the ground, stopping just short of putting your shoulders and feet on the ground. Then repeat.

As you become more skilled, keep your legs straight as you bring them towards your chest – hence, the name Jackknife Crunches.

Medicine Ball Wall Throws

Very few exercises intensely workout the muscles in the whole body at once, and Medicine Ball Wall Throws is one of them. Also called Wall Balls, this powerhouse may be intense but, thankfully, not as painful as the name implies. This exercise requires an all-out effort but rewards you by conditioning and toning both the upper and lower body. It also gets your heart pumping hard and strengthens your breath rate during exercise.

Stand facing a wall with a 10 to 20-pound medicine ball. Lower into a squat, then stand up and throw the ball as high as you can so it bounces off the wall above you. Catch the ball and squat again. Repeat for as long as you can handle it.

In case you don't have a wall handy, Medicine Ball Wall Throws can be done with a partner. Be warned; get ready for a full-body, all-out effort.


Cooling Down and Stretching After Fat Burning Workout Routines

For successful fat burning workout routines, safety is critical to prevent injuries. Always focus on proper form and alignment rather than the number of repetitions. Breathing during these exercises should be labored, but not painful.

Afterward, take time to slow your heart rate and cool your body down with light cardio like jogging or walking for about 5 minutes. Then be sure to thoroughly stretch all muscles, especially the muscle groups you worked the hardest. If static stretching isn't your thing, try yoga sun salutations for 5 to 10 minutes as they stretch all the major muscle groups.

Additionally, it's less taxing on your body to alternate your workouts. Try combining three or four different exercises for your high-intensity workout days to exercise the body evenly. And if a routine is no longer challenging, then change it up.

With these suggestions, you'll create a dynamic workout routine that will burn fat and tone your entire body. And it will keep you motivated in your long-term fitness goals.

Want more ideas for workout routines to burn fat? Check out the Zoid Academy and learn a variety of exercises and workouts for ultimate fat burning and weight loss.