How do I lose thee? Let me count the ways. We give you 61 (plus a few bonus tips for you dedicated online readers). Losing those last few inches, bringing out that six-pack or moving the slider to the left on the scale are among the hardest things for people to do — even you crafty gym veterans. But with this compilation of tips, unwanted bodyfat could be a thing of the past.


Be an Iron Man / Woman. There’s no overstating the importance of resistance training. Adding muscle to your frame through lifting weights causes your body to speed up its metabolism. For every pound of lean muscle you forge, count on losing an extra 35–50 calories per day, or up to 1,500 calories a month or 18,000 calories per year while resting. That’s approximately 5 pounds of bodyfat you can eliminate at rest.


Depending on a number of factors — weight loads, rest periods, intensity, exercise selection, etc. — the average weight-training session will yield a caloric burn of 400–600 calories.

Limit rest periods.

Don’t spend your time between sets chatting up the chick on the treadmill. To add a calorie-burning element to your weight training, limit rest periods to 30–45 seconds. Resting 30 seconds between sets has been shown to increase caloric burn by 50%, compared to a three-minute rest period. You may not be as strong heading into your next set, but the added calorie burn may be worth it.

Speed up the pace

To help amp up your calorie burn between sets — and to accomplish more in less time — incorporate supersets or drop sets on weight-training days or perform your exercises circuit-style. You can also speed up your workout by doing your ab moves between other exercises, rather than waiting until the end of your routine.

Expect progression.

Don’t get stuck in a rut with the same weights and exercises. Expect that after 4–6 weeks, your body will have adjusted and will be starving for something new. Aim to make incremental increases to your weight loads, try new exercises, shorten rest periods, incorporate advanced techniques like supersets, change from barbells to dumbbells…anything to keep your body guessing and improving.

Compound interest.

Build your routine around multijoint movements like presses, rows and squats to recruit the most muscle and burn the most calories. Isolation moves, or single-joint exercises, such as leg extensions, biceps curls and triceps extensions, should represent only a small portion of your routine.

Be free.

Free weights force your body to recruit more total muscle because they call on stabilizer muscles to balance the weight, a superior advantage to the predetermined range of motion that machines have to offer.

Go rest.

To repair itself (which is where the real gains occur), the body needs rest. Get at least eight hours of sleep per night to allow your body to recover and grow muscle, which ups your overall calorie-burning potential. And depending on the volume of your training, allow a few days before working the same muscle group again. This also prevents overtraining, which can strip your body of muscle.

Go for the afterburn.

Resistance training also burns more calories after exercise. One study found that after a 30-minute full-body workout in which subjects trained with their 10RM weights, resting metabolic rate was elevated by 20% for two days following the exercise session. In a 180-pound man, that percentage equates to an average 400 extra calories burned per day.


Training with the progressive-overload principle helps rev your metabolism. Pushing your muscles beyond what they’re currently trained to overcome forces them to adapt and regenerate themselves so they’re ready the next time such a stimulus is encountered.

Think “Ronnie.”

Train like a bodybuilder to help improve your hormonal milieu. Doing 3–5 sets of 8–12 reps with relatively short rest periods has been shown to increase testosterone and growth hormone release, improving your anabolic environment and metabolism.

Train abs for endurance.

If your goal is to have a slimmer waistline, don’t train your abs with heavy loads. Use a weight that allows you to get at least 15 reps per set, allowing minimal rest between sets (less than 60 seconds). Or use only your own bodyweight as resistance while maximally contracting your abs on each repetition.

Cyclical gains.

Although it isn’t impossible, you shouldn’t attempt to get really lean and gain significant amounts of muscle mass simultaneously. Instead, periodize (cycle) your training for better overall results, alternating between phases when you focus on strength, mass and leaning out.