6 CrossFit Exercises for Fat-loss

crossfit shoulder mobility

CrossFit has quickly become known as a form of training that produces the fittest physiques. When you look at the sport’s top athletes, you see defined arms, shapely legs and glutes, and shredded abs. And rightly so! The workouts use a combination of strength training and cardio performed at high intensity which translates not only into increased performance and health but also, into muscle development. A training regimen that favors muscle development along with a quality diet is the best way to burn fat, build strength, and construct the toned body that’s idolized by so many. Read more to find out how CrossFit can get you there.

There are no exercises that will give you rapid, magical, fat loss burning benefits however, there are exercises that are more efficient at building muscle, and this is extremely important for fat loss.

Why is CrossFit effective for burning fat?

Let's start with a disclaimer: There are no exercises that will give you rapid, magical, fat loss burning benefits however, there are exercises that are more efficient at building muscle, and this is extremely important for fat loss. First of all, muscle tissue takes up less space than fat tissue meaning that 5 kilos of muscle look a lot leaner and compact on your body than 5 kilos of fat does.

Second, maintaining muscle mass requires your body to expend more energy than maintaining fat. This increased demand for energy (i.e., calories), boosts your resting metabolic rate (BMR) or how many calories your body needs simply to function regularly. Taking that into account, let’s imagine two people sitting on a couch watching a movie; Person A has a lot of lean muscle mass while Person B has very little.  Even though they are both resting, by the time the movie is finished, Person A will have burned more calories than Person B just by sitting.

Finally, looking at the psychological side of the coin, CrossFit is effective for burning fat because it is process driven. This is an idea that lends extremely well to fitness because the emphasis is on being consistent and seeking gradual adaptation rather than focusing solely on achieving the outcome. Your pursuit of learning new skills, crushing workouts, and beating your peers are additional motivational factors for when “looking better” just doesn't cut it. In other words, athletes enjoy the journey rather than focusing on the end result.

Another disclaimer while we're at it: The idea of “burning fat” is pure marketing. As you exercise, fat isn't burnt off but rather, it’s used by your muscles and organs to sustain function. The extra leaves the body via urination or is exhaled as CO2 (no, seriously). That said, keep in mind that when it comes to fat loss, nutrition is king. If you're carrying extra pounds, it means that you are consuming more energy than you are using. No matter how hard or long you train, if you’re in a caloric surplus you will not lose mass, and chances are what extra will be stored as fat. Learn more about nutrition or consult an expert before making extreme changes to your diet.

Exercises that burn fat

We’ve already established that increased muscle mass equals increased metabolism equals increased energy expenditure and BMR. Even though there are many compound strength exercises that are great for developing muscle mass (think deadlifts or squats for example) we're going to look at the exercises that are used for metabolic conditioning or, met-cons; these are exercises that you would more typically find in a WOD because they can be executed at high intensity.

A training regimen that favors muscle development along with a quality diet is the best way to burn fat, build strength, and construct a toned body.

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings are an explosive compound exercise that mixes weights with cardio-respiratory training. This combination means that by including swings in your workout, you can take advantage of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), an effect in which your body continues to burn calories long after you finish training. Kettlebell swings work your posterior chain, meaning your calves, glutes, hips, low back, and abs. The “American” variation, ending with the kettlebell in an overhead position also implicates shoulder development.

Goblet Squat

Goblet squats are essential for building functional strength. Squats generally target your quads, glutes, and calves, but holding weight in front of your chest as you perform them adds an aspect of difficulty for your arms and midline. Increase the speed to get your heart pumping or perform the exercise with more weight to develop strength and muscular endurance.


Few exercises can mess you up the way burpees can. This plyometric exercise tends to make even the simplest workouts considerably harder and are dreaded by all even outside of the scope of CrossFit. This is a whole-body exercise that strengthens muscles in your chest, arms, shoulders, glutes, and legs while hitting you with the perfect combination of muscular and cardio fatigue. There’s no weight involved, making it a low impact way to build athleticism.

Walking Lunge / Box Step up

Both exercises are similar in that they are extremely functional. Both the walking lunge and box step up are bodyweight exercises that are low impact and improve stamina. They are also great for working the midline, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes. Since these exercises have a low level of technicality, it’s easy to dose intensity and pace. Make these moves more difficult by incorporating jumping or by adding weight.

Ring Row

The ring row is a versatile exercise that adaptable to all levels of athlete. It can be scaled down to introduce pulling to new or weaker athletes or scaled up for weight or to add serious volume for more advanced athletes. Ring rows mostly work the upper body including the upper back, shoulders, arms, and abdomen.

Shoulder to Overhead

Shoulder to overhead refers to any exercise in which the weights move from your shoulder to an overhead position. This exercise is versatile in that it can be performed with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, or plates just to name a few options. Aside from being an explosive way to strengthen the upper body and midline, it’s effective at improving overhead mechanics and shoulder stability. Some variations like the push press and push jerk are especially effective for improving power output and hip extension. Get even more metabolic benefits by starting each m lift from the ground.


An effective way to lower your body fat percentage is to eat an adequate diet and train at high intensity several times per week. CrossFit offers an efficient fat-burning solution because it focuses on developing strength, endurance, and overall fitness. This full-body workout uses compound exercises to help you lose fat and gain muscle while also keeping you motivated to seek improvements in performance rather than in aesthetics alone.