How To Design a Total Body Fat Loss Workout

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By: Ben Longley

There’s more to an effective fat loss training program than just slapping a bunch of exercises together and hoping it works. There is a lot more to it than most people think. In fact there is quite a science to it. For the everyday person with postural issues, muscle tightness & imbalances, as well as niggling aches and pains, it’s important to have a properly designed, well balanced and thought out strength training program for weight loss.

If you’ve never really thought about it yourself, here’s a simple guide to what to think about when structuring an exercise session – with fat loss, fitness, strength, muscle tone as the main objectives. To get the biggest  ‘bang for you buck’ in an hour of training, your average person will get the most out of a ‘full body’ workout. Choose exercises aimed to stimulate as much muscle tissue on your body as possible to get the biggest metabolic effect, tone as much muscle and burn as many calories as possible as a result.

Here’s an overview of some of the exercises to incorporate which fall into basic human movement patterns, a typical full body fat loss workout we do with our St Kilda group training clients at our studio will always incorporate these movements


Squats have been labelled the ‘king of exercises’ by many. Everybody should at least be able to perform a good looking, controlled, deep squat for a basic level of fitness and quality of life. This exercise is very ‘metabolic’ meaning that it will stimulate the huge amount of muscle on your body for the one movement. This is why squatting with weight can make you very out of breath, as your lungs struggle to oxygenate all the blood pumping to your legs! Squats will  predominately target your quads, glutes, hamstrings and lower back muscles. Of course within the squat there are plenty of variations: jump squat, weighted squat, wide stance, narrow stance, how you hold a weight, what kind of weight you hold (barbell, dumbell, sandbag) etc etc.


There’s a lot of ways to do a lunge with many variations, then when you add in all the different ways to hold a weight the options are endless. Lunges hit the leg muscles much like squats, but will hit the intricate stabilser muscles a little more, as stability and balance play a lot more of a role with this movement. Lunges will typically require less lower back strength, with the lower back often being the limiting factor for squats, the legs can be targeted more effectively with lunges as more weight can be used comparitively on the one leg. Different lunges will hit your muscles in a slightly different way and stimulate your nervous system in different ways so it’s always good to mix it up.


Exactly how it sounds, pushing exercises are literally anything that involves a pushing movement. Pushing can be further broken down into horizontal pushing (e.g. push ups) and vertical pushing (e.g. pressing something above your head). Any pushing exercise will ‘hit’ some combination of chest, shoulders and triceps (back of arms). Depending on the angle of the push, these muscles will be stimulated and used slightly differently.


This is the exact opposite of pushing, so literally any exercise which involves some sort of pulling movement. Pulling exercises are very important to include in virtually everyone’s program due to back weakness and postural issues. Ironically, they’re generally the most overlooked (probably because these aren’t muscles you see in the mirror everyday).

Most people go to work, sit down all day with bad posture,(head forward, shoulders rounded forward, hunched back) and in doing this they shorten chest, shoulder and neck muscles, and weaken postural muscles in the back. So it’s very important that in the time we spend exercising we don’t exasperate this with more and more pushing to further tighten those muscles, without balancing it out. In this day and age with the lifestyles we live, we need to counteract our daily posture with our exercise programming and include more pulling exercises then pushing.

Pulling can also be further broken down into horizontal pulling (e.g. rowing movement) and vertical pulling (e.g. chin ups). Pulling exercises will predominately hit the biceps, as well as all muscles in the back.


This is typically referred to as a deadlift. Learning the correct ‘hip hinge’ pattern, avoiding movement at the spine and disassociating your hips from you lower back when you ‘bend’ is a very important movement for both total body functionality and injury prevention. A deadlift is one of the best total body exercises around and will stimulate more muscle on your entire body than any other movement alone, making it a great bang for your buck exercise and one that’s very worthwhile learning, getting good at and getting stronger in. Biggest muscles hit with a deadlift are hamstrings, glutes and entire back musculature, making it a great postural exercise as it will strengthen basically every muscle on the backside of your body to help ‘straighten’ you up. This is one of the tricker movements to master with the biggest potential for mistakes and injury so make sure you get a qualified and experienced personal trainer to show you how to do them.

So there’s your basic movements for a human body, to design a training program, choose 1 -2 exercises which fit into each movement category, include more pulling than pushing to counteract posture and you will have stimulated every single muscle on your body for a highly metabolic workout (assuming you’re pushing yourself, working hard and getting out of your comfort zone).

Hope it helps! J

Ben Longley is a St Kilda personal trainer, and the owner of The Fit Stop, a personal training and group training studio in St Kilda East, specialising in fat loss & real fitness results for local residents.

For more information about his services you can visit or read his blog at

You can contact him at






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