When you’re trying to lose weight, burn fat and tone up your body, exercising and eating healthier are two of the best strategies and proven ways to drop pounds.—And it doesn’t matter if you’re trying "to lose 5 pounds in a week" or 10 pounds in a month.
The same strategies apply.
Losing weight is all about energy balance—"calories in", and "calories out".
For example, if you want to lose 1 pound of fat a week, you’ll need to burn about 3,500 calories to reach your goal weight.
And if the 1 pound turns to 5 pounds, then it would be 5 pounds x 3,500 = 17,500.
17,500 would be the amount of calories you need to burn to reach your goal weight.
And you certainly know from our post "How to lose weight fast and safely" that you can't out exercise a bad diet.
The safer way of reaching your weight goal is reducing your calorie intake and increasing your level of activity throughout the week.
Both have to be present in your action plan.
Hard, but not impossible to achieve.
So to begin, you need to figure out how many calories you need to be eating.
How you can compute your caloric needs is in our previous post, "how to lose weight fast”.
If you don’t know your number yet, find out there. In the post, you’ll also learn that a healthy diet is more than just about counting calories, but it’s also about food quality.
Yes, both quantity and quality count when it comes to eating for your weight loss and health.
Once your diet is under-control, you need the best workouts to maximize your fat and calorie burn.
As you've already guessed, some workouts are more effective and work really well for weight loss than others.
And some (sadly well-known and popular) workouts work against your slim down and tone up, despite their popularity.
This is what this post is all about.
In this post, I will discuss the best and proven workouts for weight loss and provide a sample workout plan for you to get started on losing weight, burning fat and finally toning up.
If you are serious about using exercise to lose weight, these workouts are your must-haves.
The workouts for weight loss have two parts: cardio and resistance training.
More specifically, HIIT is the cardio workout and metabolic circuit training is the resistance workout. With them togehter, they are the double edge sword that can trim your fat and burn insane calories.
Let’s explore each individually to see how they can help you lose weight and burn fat.
- HIIT Cardio
- Resistance training
What is HIIT?
HIIT, short for high intensity interval training works like a charm.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, this type of cardio workouts can elevate your metabolism up to 24 hours post-exercises.
This means that your body is still burning calories and fat even after you finish your workout and doing anything but exercising, like watching TV and sleeping! Isn't that amazing?
High intensity interval training is surely a superior way of doing cardio for weight loss because your body and metabolism function at a higher rate to burn calories for hours and hours post-exercise by triggering an effect called Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) (but we should really be calling it "The Weight Loss Shortcut".
Here is how it really works.
HITT constantly forces your body and heart to adjust to changing condition: Burst of sprinting, followed by an active recovery like slow jogging, and then burst of sprinting.
Your heart learns to operate outside of its norm; therefore, your body learns to adapt to these changes.
All of these changes in intensity kick your metabolism into high gear for hours after post-workout and all the hours it takes to return to the normal pre-exercise state, your body has to continue expand calories, in the form of energy to refuel and replenish itself.
If you are thinking "more calorie deficit for you", then you are absolutely correct!
All HIIT does is to burn calories.
It burns calories during exercise and more calories up to 24 hours post-workout, only to help create a calorie deficit to aid your weight loss (given that your diet is right on). Or, if you prefer to stay technical, HIIT creates an environment that causes your body to need additional energy in the forms of calories to refuel and recover from an intense cardio session.
This is why HIIT cardio is perfect for both weight loss and losing fat.
By doing HITT cardio for weight loss you can burn three times the amount of calories and fat in half the exercise time.
Again all you have to do is to inject brief of periods of intense effort into your regular cardio routine ( Sprinting, jogging, swims, bicycling, elliptical sessions, etc.).
The intensity effectively resets your metabolism to a slightly higher rate during your workout, and it takes hours and a lot of energy (in the forms of calories) for it to slow down again.
If your regular cardio workout is a brisk 30 minute walk, try adding a short bursts of jogging lasting no more than 30 seconds every 3 to 5 minutes.
As you become more fit, you can increase the interval length to a minute, and decrease the walking segments.
This will have the greatest impact and can boost your metabolism.
To really get HIIT right, make sure you push yourself so that the interval portion leaves you breathing hard.
We created a sample HIIT cardio weight loss plan below, follow it for a week.
We also have a 6 week weight loss plan that includes both HIIT cardio, metabolic circuit training as well a weight loss meal plan to help you shed off some serious pounds. Click here to learn more.
Weight Loss Cardio Interval
While cardiovascular exercises condition your heart, lungs and body to lose weight, adding resistance training truly takes fat burning and body toning to another level.
It increases your body’s metabolic needs to increase your lean muscle mass. Because your muscles require constant feeding of ongoing energy in forms of calories, more you work your muscles, more calories they will use to repair, grow and maintain 24/7!
If heavy weights pop into your head as soon as you hear muscle mass, then hear me out.
Resistance training doesn't necessarily mean heavy weight training that requires you to invade the overly intimidating, macho men's weightlifting zone in the gym.
It only means that you work with resistance, and resistance can come from gravity, body weight or any free weights and bands because in essence, resistance training is about causing your muscles to contract against an external resistance that muscles must work to overcome.
When you do that, your body gets stronger and builds lean muscle mass that allows beautifully sculpted body definitions to show all over your body.
Now, what kind of exercises are best suited for weight loss?
According the American College of Sports Medicine, exercises that target and recruit all the largest muscle groups, such as squats, lunges, pushups, squat thrusts, burpees, inverted rows, pull ups, jumping rope and planks are the best.
These exercises work your legs, hips, thighs glutes (butt), chest, shoulders, arms and core.
And when you perform these exercises in a circuit format with little to no rest in between, at a volume of around 8-12 repetitions for 3 sets, it's shown to build lean muscle mass, burn major calories and elevate your resting metabolic rate up to 48 hours post-workout.
This way of working out is a great way to lose weight, slim down and firm your muscles while striping away fat off your body.
To get started on weight loss resistance training, give this 20 minute circuit bodyweight workout.
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20-Min Full-Body Workout for Weight Loss
Perform all the 6 exercises with little to no rest in between. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds at the end fo your set. Complete 3 sets.
Follow the insructions below to perform all the exercises correctly to maximize exercise benefits.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your side. Bend over and touch the floor with both hands in front of your feet. Keeping your legs straight and your abs tight, walk your hands forward as far as you can without letting your hips drop.
- Pause, then slowly walk your feet toward your hands. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips. Step forward with your right leg and slowly lower your body until your right knee is bent at least 90 degrees, and your left knee nearly touches the floor.
- Pause, then push back to the starting position and repeat with your left leg. Do 10 reps/ per side.
- Stand with your feet a few inches apart and your arms at your sides, then simultaneously raise your arms out to the sides and over your head, and jump your feet out so they are slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
- Without pausing, quickly reverse the movement. Do 15 reps.
- Lying face up on ground with arms to side, knees bent, and heels on ground. Contract your glutes and lift your hips off the floor, pushing with your heels, so your body creates a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Squeeze your glutes and abs, hold for two seconds, then take three seconds to slowly lower yourself back to the floor to the starting position. Do 15 reps
- Lie flat on your back on the floor. Place your hands on the floor beside you and legs extended upward directly over hips with your feet together.
- Contract your abdominals to lift hips a few inches off floor.
- Pause, then slowly lower hips, then legs, toward floor. Do 15 reps.
Cross Body Mountain Climbers
- Get down into a plank position with your arms and legs straight, shoulders above your wrists.
- Contract your abs to pick up your right foot and slowly bring your right knee toward your left shoulder.
- Return to the starting position. Alternate legs until you complete 15 reps/ per side.
- Boyle, Michael. "Interval Training." PTontheNET.com. 16 May 2008. Web. 09 July 2015.
- "Is High-intensity Exercise Better than Moderate-intensity Exercise for Weight Loss?" National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2013. Web. 11 July 2015.
- Kravis, Len, Ph.D. "Correction: Similar Health Benefits of Endurance and High-Intensity Interval Training in Obese Children." PLOS One (2014): n. pag. High-Intensity Interval Training. American College of Sports Medicine, 2014. Web. 07 July 2015.
- Powers, Scott K., Edward T. Howley, and Brian B. Parr, Ph.D. "Exercise Metabolism." Cell Metabolism 22.1 (2015): 18-24. Exercise Physiology Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance. Texas Tech University, 2009. Web. 11 July 2015.