Here, Perkins ranks her five favorite strength moves to torch body fat—and score you some total-body definition.
1. Barbell Deadlift
“This is the mack daddy of strength moves for fat loss,” says Perkins. “It literally involves every single muscle in the body for huge metabolic effects.”
Burn it up: Grab a barbell (start with a 35-pound pre-loaded barbell or a 45-pound Olympic barbell, if you’re new to deadlifts) and stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Position the barbell in front of your thighs with your palms facing your body (A). Maintaining a neutral spine, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower the barbell toward the floor. Push through your feet and squeeze your glutes to return to standing (B). That’s one rep.
2. Barbell Squat
The LBD of the gym, squats do it all. But, if you usually perform squats with the weight in front of your chest, like with a dumbbell or kettlebell, it’s worth switching things up. When the weight is loaded across your upper back and shoulders, you put a greater emphasis on the almighty glutes. Your glutes are the biggest muscle group in the body, so working them is an awesome way to crank up your metabolic burn, she says.
Burn it up: At a squat rack, stand under a barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart. (Start with a 35-pound pre-loaded barbell or a 45-pound Olympic barbell if you’re new to barbell squats.) Grab the barbell with both hands and lift up on the bar to remove it from the rack. It should rest across your upper shoulder, just below the base of your neck. That’s the starting position (A). Now, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower your body as far as you can (it should feel hard, but not hurt) (B). Pause, then slowly push yourself back to the starting position.
3. Reverse-Grip Pulldown
While chin-ups will accomplish the same thing—working virtually every muscle in your back, shoulders, and arms, as well as those deep in your core—not every woman is ready to start cranking those out on a whim, says Perkins. Either way, reverse-grip pulldowns will burn fat and help you work up to the real deal.
Burn it up: Sit at a lat-pulldown station and grab the bar with a shoulder-width underhand grip, palms facing you. Your arms should be straight and torso upright (A). Keeping your torso still, squeeze your shoulder blades together to pull the bar down to your collarbones (B).Pause, then slowly return to start. That’s one rep.
4. Incline Bench Press
The bench press is about so much more than the chest—especially if you do it at an incline. This simple move also hammers the front of shoulders, triceps, and even your biceps and traps, she says. Basically, you recruit a ton of muscle groups for awesome fat-burning benefits.
Burn it up: Set an adjustable bench to its lowest incline (15 to 30 degrees). Lie faceup on the bench and grab the barbell with an overhand grip that’s slightly beyond shoulder-width (A). Lower the bar to your upper chest (B). Pause, and then push the bar back to the starting position. That’s one rep.
5. Barbell Overhead Press
In women, the deltoids, or shoulder muscles, are often underworked, says Perkins. But get this: Weak muscles grow faster than strong ones. Translation: you can easily create a ton of calorie-torching muscle by targeting your shoulders.
Burn it up: Grab a barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and sit down on a flat-back bench. Hold the bar in front of and slightly above your shoulders, palms facing forward (A). Press the weight straight up over your head until your arms are fully extended, but not locked (B). Pause, then slowly lower the barbell back to start. That’s one rep.