Written by Dana Brown
When it comes to weight loss, there is no such thing as a “quick fix”. Losing weight comes down to achieving a consistent calorie deficit – burning more calories than you consume. 1 lb. of fat is the equivalent to 3500 calories so in order to lose 1 lb. of fat per week, you must eliminate or burn off a minimum of an additional 500 calories per day than what you are currently consuming and burning. That sounds simple enough, but the truth is that most of us underestimate how many calories we consume and overestimate how many calories we burn! Working out isn’t enough on its own to make weight loss happen. If you want to lose weight, adopting healthy eating habits has to be your number one priority. It’s also important to get plenty of sleep to reduce the hormone cortisol and give you plenty of energy for your workouts.
But what are the best exercises for weight loss? The key is to find workouts that you genuinely enjoy and will incorporate into your lifestyle on a consistent basis. The great thing about exercise is that it helps to increase lean muscle. Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue; the more of it we have, the more effective we are at burning calories all day long. Instead of focusing on exercising to lose weight, use it to change your body composition (decrease fat mass and increase lean body mass), reduce stress and improve your cardiovascular function. There are certain exercises that can be particularly useful in helping you turn your body into a fat-burning machine and achieve weight loss.
- Interval Training (also known as HIIT – high intensity interval training) – Any form of exercise that forces your heart rate to spike followed by active recovery. This generally means pushing yourself hard for an interval of time followed by active rest and repeating this cycle several times. A great system to start with is 1 minute of hard exertion, followed by 2 minutes of active rest for x 6 cycles. You can adjust your intervals as needed. Choose your favorite activity for the workout – ANYTHING works – running, stair climbing, cycling, jumping rope, even dancing in place! The intensity matters more than the mode.
- Resistance Training – The reason resistance training has such a prolonged calorie-burn effect is because your body requires more oxygen post-workout to recover and repair muscles. This process makes your body more effective at burning calories all day long and sometimes for days following an intense resistance training workout. Free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, Pilates, Barre and body weight exercises are all excellent forms of resistance training!
- Yoga – Creating an overall sense of mindfulness is an extremely effective weight loss tool. Not only does reducing stress help you control emotional eating, but yoga helps you connect with your breath and keep you flexible and injury free for your other, more intense workouts (like HIIT!). The number of calories burned in a yoga class widely vary but it is a phenomenal way to help you connect with your body, build lean muscle and create an overall sense of healthy well-being.
Be patient, consistent and open to trying new forms of exercise and you will experience positive, long-term results!