How To Lose Weight At The Gym: Tips, Machines & Best Practices 2024

Jason Spencer CPT, CSCS, FCES
Dr. David Miles, PharmD
Losing weight as a beginner is always a challenge. Discover 5 of the most helpful weight loss tips on how to lose weight at the gym!
how to lose weight at the gym
Use of a treadmill provides great low intensity cardio. Photo: 4 PM production/Shutterstock

It can be quite daunting to figure out how to lose weight at the gym. Exercise and the effects it has on the body can be complex and require a good amount of discipline and strategy. And, if this wasn’t tough enough, there are also challenges learning which equipment to use and understanding how to start training at a beginner’s conditioning level.

In this article you will learn how to lose weight at the gym, how long it takes, what the best equipment to use is, and how to stick to your routine for rewarding results! Let’s get you lined up and ready to bust through that wall with a little structure and direction.

How To Lose Weight Fast At The Gym

  1. Cardio machines – Steady state low intensity cardiovascular work provides large amounts of calorie burn over long durations.
  2. Squats – This provides the highest calorie burn per strength exercise due to its usage of your largest muscle group with the highest oxygen requirement.  
  3. Loaded Strength Training – Adding resistance for challenges really boosts your energy expenditure.
  4. Aerobic Intervals – Enhanced cardio exercise.
  5. Anaerobic Intervals – This blending of strength and cardio makes for the most efficient form of fat burning. 

How To Lose Weight At The Gym

how to lose weight at the gym
Try doing short durations with the higher intensity assault bike. Photo: Serhii Bobyk/Shutterstock

The first place to start on how to lose weight at the gym fast is your choice of exercises. Let’s go through five of the best beginner methods for effectively getting your metabolism rolling at the highest level! Some of these even specialize in maximizing post workout fat burning and higher daily calorie burn!

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Cardiovascular exercise is the foundational method of training for burning body fat over long periods of time. Steady state cardio is most appropriate for beginners due to its moderate to slow pace over long durations, which prevents overtraining.[1] Standard machines in this category  are the treadmill, the elliptical, rowers and bikes.


Squats are a powerful weight training exercise. The lower body muscles used in squats are some of the largest in the body and therefore burn the most calories. This makes the squat a must to lose weight at the gym.

Strength Training 

Strength training involves adding a weight or loading weights during a movement. Loading your exercises increases the challenge of the movement and subsequent calorie burn. Higher intensity as well as using greater muscle mass, provide a boost to your weight loss efforts.

The increased muscle mass acquired helps with weight loss due to the property that lean muscle has of being highly metabolically active. Greater muscle mass leads to higher metabolism and a final result of increased fat burn.

For more context, be sure to look into what adding load to an exercise does to improve every aspect of strength adaptation.[2]

Aerobic Intervals 

Aerobics is a form of cardiovascular training, but incorporating interval work is what changes the style of the cardio. To implement intervals, the goal is to introduce a few to several high intensity periods within the overall routine. An example would be to walk or jog for three minutes and then speed up to a sprint or faster jog for one minute.

In other words, you alternate one minute higher intensity intervals with three-minute walks over the same duration. This results  in a steady state cardio routine and creates an enhanced level of fat burn within the cardiovascular session. Both this and the interval training below are great examples of how to lose weight at the gym without gaining muscle.

Anaerobic Intervals 

Anaerobic interval training follows the same principles as aerobic intervals training does. The difference is  that the steady state exercise making up the bulk of the routine is now strength training and weight based. Here, the high intensity is short bursts of cardiovascular techniques such as sprinting on a treadmill for time or performing bodyweight plyometrics like squat thrusts.

This is the most advanced form of fat burning cardio due to the large muscle challenge performed in the middle of the high heart rate cardio exercises. Strength training under these conditions requires the highest level of energy utilization.

Best Gym Equipment For Weight Loss

The following are the most effective pieces of equipment for getting the job done. Each poses a unique type of resistance and energy burn, providing a diverse assortment of stimulation for the body to respond.

Cable Pulley 

The cable pulley is a tall column shaped machine with two sides that have an adjustable handle attachment. It uses a cable system to provide resistance to whatever exercise is being performed. It is extremely easy to use as its major exercises are simple pulls, twists, and holds.

TRX Suspension 

The TRX suspension trainer is a long double handled strap that is anchored at the non handled end. The freely hanging handles can be leaned against, hung on, pulled at different body angles and even used as assistance for exercises that are otherwise too difficult to do with your full body weight, such as push ups. This can be invaluable in learning how to lose weight at the gym for a beginner. 


The kettlebell is an awesome piece of equipment with a unique design meant to stimulate the core and full body coordination in ways no other tool can. This challenging body control dynamic makes for a strength and cardiovascular effect that produces high level results. The best part of the kettlebell is in the fact that despite how dynamic it is, it can also be used by beginners. Work with these can be supremely valuable among strength training exercises.


The barbell is the best way to perform important compound resistance movements to maximize the amount of load you can utilize. Deadlifting, squatting, pulling, and pressing are your highest yielding exercises in terms of calorie-burning strength training.Strength training itself is paramount if you want to maximize your physical capabilities.[3]

Resistance Bands 

how to lose weight at the gym
Less can be more using low intensities. Photo: El Nariz/Shutterstock

Resistance bands are actually a lesser resistance version of the cable pulleys as they similarly allow for constant resistance and the same primary exercises. These are great for learning movements and emphasizing technique instead of heavy loads. Beginners can certainly benefit from these low intensity strength tools. 


Machines are listed last here, but they can often be the most appropriate pieces of gym equipment in the gym at the beginning of your fitness journey. They are very useful in learning movements while still building strength, and can set a foundation for more complex and coordinated movements like push ups and the like. 

Best Practices For Weight Loss

Appropriate Workout Duration 

A half hour workout can burn more calories than an hour workout depending on how much of it is composed of some of the higher burning forms mentioned in this article. Generally, beginners want to stick to lower intensity routines that cover closer to 45 to 60 minutes. Overall, be mindful of your own body’s limits and stop if your muscles are tired. Otherwise, too intensive of an exercise can lead to muscle damage, further hindering your weight loss plans.

Utilization Of A Gym

As a beginner, the gym is the best place to find the equipment for metabolizing fat[4] and the expert guidance crucial for someone needing to learn and start exercising safely.You owe it to yourself to take advantage of the gym and all it contains. 

A great consideration would be hiring a personal trainer to help develop your weight loss workout plan. He or she can also be extremely instrumental in answering all of your fitness concerns from safe ways to build stamina, to questions like how many calories should I eat to lose weight?

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Sticking With An Exercise Routine

The absolute key to sticking with your exercise routine is to choose exercises and intensities that you can accomplish without burning out, and making time for rest and recovery between sessions. 


That weight loss wall that always seems so intimidating is surely scalable. How you lose weight at the gym for beginners, is all about selection quality. Selection is crucial when you choose your exercises, equipment, machines and intensity with which you want to exercise. Quantity then becomes imperative as you will need to manage how much you do per week and how long you do it for each session. 

With access to a gym you are certainly in the best position to burn calories not just because all the tools are there for you but because you have professionals at your disposal, for guidance. So get out to the gym and take full advantage of all it has for you! Your new weight is right around the corner!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to go to the gym everyday?

If your workouts are challenging enough for you to stimulate enough calorie burn to lose weight, then you should need rest. If you go to the gym daily without needing rest then your routine intensity is not high enough.

How many times a week in the gym is enough?

At an appropriately challenging intensity level, going to the gym between two and four times a week is normal and healthy.

How many calories should I burn a day?

To lose an average of two to three pounds weekly, 1,000 to 1,500 calories must be burned daily. Losing weight is based on a calorie deficit[5] though, not just solely on burning all of them in the gym.

What is the best time to workout?

The best time to workout depends on the individual.Key considerations should be based around what your days look like regarding when your energy levels are best and what times are easiest for you to be consistent. 

How do I eat to support my exercise?

Eat less to achieve weight loss but not in excess. How to eat less is critical to your success since exercise requires enough calories if your body is going to cooperate with you on burning fat.

Is water really that important for weight loss success?

Yes water is surprisingly important for metabolic and energy purposes during and around your exercising. Please read how drinking enough water[6] can help you more than you knew!

How long does it take to lose weight?

A variety of factors play into the rate of weight loss, but Individuals typically lose weight at an average rate of two to four lbs per week.


  1. Chung, Y., Hsiao, Y.-T. and Huang, W.-C. (2021). Physiological and Psychological Effects of Treadmill Overtraining Implementation. Biology, [online] 10(6), pp.515–515. doi:
  2. Carvalho, L., Moriggi, R., Barreira, J., Schöenfeld, B.J., Orazem, J. and Barroso, R. (2022). Muscle hypertrophy and strength gains after resistance training with different volume-matched loads: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, [online] 47(4), pp.357–368. doi:
  3. Alessandro, Guerra, E., Orlandi, C., Ilenia Bazzucchi and Sacchetti, M. (2017). Effect of combined resistance and endurance exercise training on regional fat loss. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, [online] 57(6). doi:
  4. Purdom, T.M., Kravitz, L., Dokładny, K. and Mermier, C.M. (2018). Understanding the factors that effect maximal fat oxidation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, [online] 15(1). doi:
  5. Schübel, R., Nattenmüller, J., Disorn Sookthai, Nonnenmacher, T., Graf, M.E., Riedl, L., Schlett, C.L., Oyunbileg von Stackelberg, Johnson, T., Nabers, D., Kirsten, R., Kratz, M., Hans Ulrich Kauczor, Ulrich, C.M., Kaaks, R. and Tilman Kühn (2018). Effects of intermittent and continuous calorie restriction on body weight and metabolism over 50 wk: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [online] 108(5), pp.933–945. doi:
  6. Ayotte, D. and Corcoran, M.P. (2018). Individualized hydration plans improve performance outcomes for collegiate athletes engaging in in-season training. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, [online] 15(1). doi:

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