How to Lower Body Fat Percentage Fast With Cardio and Muscle Workouts

Changing your body fat percentage requires persistent and consistent training.

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Getting your body fat percentage under control in a short period of time requires an aggressive program of resistance training and endurance exercise, along with good nutritional support and adequate rest. Body fat is a ratio of fat mass to total body mass, and can be lowered by both decreasing your total body fat and increasing your lean muscle mass. But don't expect results overnight. Building mass and burning fat requires patience, persistence and consistent training.


Perform cardiovascular endurance exercise. A 2012 study of 234 overweight and obese adults performed at Duke University found that the equivalent of 12 miles of walking or running per week was highly effective in reducing subjects' body fat, compared to resistance training without cardio.


Do compound resistance training exercises. In a presentation to the 2012 Conference of the National Strength Conditioning Association, fitness expert Brad Schoenfeld, MSc, expounded on the benefits of performing high-intensity total-body workouts three non-consecutive days per week to reduce body fat and maximize muscle mass gains. Use compound exercises that involve multiple muscle groups and joints. For example, do squats and lunges for your lower body, and bench presses, lat pulldowns and overhead dumbbell presses for your upper body.


Eat a diet of whole fresh produce and lean protein. You cannot out-train a poor diet, and eating junk and processed food will interfere with your goal to get fast results. To satisfy your body's need for vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, or NIDDK, recommends you choose fruits and vegetables from a rainbow of colors, and eat lean meats in serving sizes of no more than three ounces.


Sleep seven to eight hours per night. Your muscles need rest to recover from exercise and to grow, and sleep deprivation can lead to increased body fat. A 2008 longitudinal study of over 10,000 subjects published in the "American Journal of Epidemiology" found a significant association between short durations of sleep and greater body weight, centralized body fat, and a risk of obesity.

Things Needed

  • Supportive athletic shoes
  • Resistance training equipment


  • Lowering your body fat percentage does not necessarily require weight loss. Adding muscle while you burn fat may result in a change in body composition with no change or even a slight increase in body weight. For an accurate assessment of body fat percentage, consult a fitness professional. According to exercise scientist Len Kravitz, PhD, of the University of New Mexico, the desirable body fat percent range for fit women is 16 to 25 percent; for fit men, the desirable range is 12 to 18 percent.


  • Before you engage in vigorous physical activity, make sure you are healthy and fit enough to perform exercises with minimal risk of injury. Consult your health care provider for health concerns, and see a certified fitness professional for a battery of fitness assessments.