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How to burn fat without running – 5 simple ways


Last updated: 23-Aug-18

By James Eacott

There are various ways in which you can incorporate fat burning into your ultra running training, by both manipulating your physical training (HIIT, fasted etc) and your nutrition (timing, nutrient content).

But what about when you don’t want to (or can’t) run?

Maybe you need a break from running but still want to shed fat?

Perhaps you’re injured and can’t run but can do something else?

Well, you’re in luck, my aspiring lean bean, there are plenty of non-running ways to burn fat.

It’s just worth noting (though it should be obvious!) that if you’re injured from running then some of the below may not work well for you. If you have any other medical condition such as diabetes or low or high blood pressure then you should seek medical advice about an exercise regime that's tailored for your special needs.

Weight training

Contrary to popular belief, weight training will not necessarily make you “stacked”, “huge” and looking like a 1980’s Arnie Schwarzenegger. It will not ruin your lean run physique. In fact, weight training compliments ultra run training incredibly well (more on that here) and during non-running periods, it’s a great way to keep the fat off.

The aim with weights is to target complex, compound exercises. By this I mean performing exercises that recruit as many muscles as possible. For example, squats, lunges, bench presses, pull ups, dead lifts and so on are great compound movements. Bicep curls are not.

EPOC – excess post-exercise oxygen consumption – increases dramatically when you perform a hard weights session. This means that although you may only burn 400 calories during the actual session, you’ll continue to torch calories (and fat) for up to 36 hours post training. How good is that! You burn fat while you sit in front of the TV recovering. Bingo.

For those worried about packing on the pounds of muscle… well, you won’t. Just don’t consume five chickens swilled down with a couple of protein shakes. A milkshake with 20g protein and 40g carbs after your session will do just fine!


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Old-school circuits. You can’t beat ‘em. They’re intense (so if you’re injured just be picky about what exercises you can do) and a single session tends to leave every muscle on fire for days. You’ll be back to your walking-backwards-down-the-stairs in no time. Circuits provide a quality HIIT (high intensity interval training) which we all know is great for burning fat.

Elevate your heart rate and combine aerobic training with anaerobic explosive movements to creating the optimal environment for fat burning. Get yourself down to your local circuit class! If you don’t have a class near you, you can do a lot on your own either with or without equipment. Check out Joe Wicks – the ‘Lean in 15’ guy – who has a whole host of great workouts on YouTube. Here’s a sample video for starters.


A super exercise for the injured runner, cycling increases glute, quad and hamstring strength as well as increasing your aerobic capacity. You’ve got two options here for fat burning:

  1. Cycle first thing in the morning after you’ve had nothing more than a cup of coffee. You’ll be training in a fasted state, so keep the ride very low intensity (conversational pace) and no longer than 60 minutes. Have a high-protein breakfast afterwards.
  2. Complete an intense interval session. A Tabata session is probably the best bang-for-your-buck session you can do, and perfect for the indoor bike. After a warm up, perform 8 reps of 20 seconds sprint, 10 seconds recovery. That makes the session a total of 4 minutes. Sounds easy, but those 4 minutes will seem like an hour once you’ve done 3 reps!


Quite a distance from classic ultra training, boxing works wonder for your midriff fat stores. Much like circuit training, the combination of aerobic and anaerobic training does wonders for your belly – just look at Anthony Joshua (but not Tyson Fury).

Sparring with a partner can be great fun. Keep sessions short sharp and intense for the best results.


This can either be incorporated within a weight training session or done in its own right. Kettlebells are, in my opinion, probably the best way of strengthening your core, ligaments and tendons and are great at burning fat. What’s also ideal is that there is no impact on your joints.

So, if you’re suffering with an impact-related injury, they’re a super way of firing your running muscles without the pounding. Start with swings, goblet squats, walking lunges and single leg deadlifts. You’ll be walking like a cowboy in no time. 

Don’t forget, we also have an article on how to incorporate fat burning into your ultra running training.

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07:27 28-09-17

Great article!