Without question, the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to combine a decreased calorie intake with an increased calorie burn. Dieting alone may help you to lose weight, but it will be slow, it will be pretty unpleasant and it will be temporary. It will also leave you thinner but flabby. Why?
Why Dieting Without Exercise Won’t Work
How many diet plans have you seen that promise to help you “lose weight without exercising”? How many thin people have you seen with unattractive figures, dull skin and limp hair? Crash or fad diets that promise to help you drop pounds without a drop of sweat are appealing to those who are “too busy” or “too out of shape” for weight loss exercise. We want a quick fix to a problem that took some time to develop. We want to lose weight without having to rearrange our schedules or get into a gym.
The problem is, though, that losing weight without exercise is actually slower than combining a moderate exercise program with a healthy diet. It will result in initial weight loss, but most of that will be water and muscle. Also, a diet that allows you to lose weight without exercising must be very low in calories and fat. You won’t be able to stay on it for very long and when you do jump ship, you’ll gain all of the weight back, plus more.
Wouldn’t you rather be able to eat more, stay satisfied, keep and even build lean muscle, reshape your body, stay energized and lose weight more quickly? Wouldn’t it be great to do all that and have a little ice cream, too? The way to do that is through a healthy diet and some effective weight loss exercises.
So Which Weight Loss Exercises Work?
There are literally thousands of exercise moves and we won’t discuss them here. You can find specific moves, with pictures and instructions, elsewhere. What you need first is an understanding of which weight loss exercise programs work and why. This way, you can select the moves or programs that are most appealing to you and that you know will work.
There are basically two types of exercise: cardio (also known as aerobic exercise) and strength training (also known as resistance training). You need both in order to lose weight without remaining flabby and fatigued. More importantly, you need them both for good health.
Ideally, you want to use both types of workout during your weight loss; exercise that burns fat and calories and builds up your cardiovascular system (cardio) and exercise that builds lean muscle, reshapes your body, builds bone strength and speeds up your metabolism (strength training).
This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours at the gym every week. The truth is, you don’t ever have to set foot inside a gym to get an excellent, effective workout. You also don’t need hours of exercise every week. New research shows that you can lose weight and build muscle just as effectively and just as quickly in as little as 20 minutes a day.
Cardio: Why and How to Do It
Anything that gets your heart and lungs pumping and your body moving is considered cardio. One of the great things about that is that you can start at any level. How much you get out of cardio is going to be extremely individual. A lot depends on the shape you’re in, how much you weigh (you burn calories per pound of weight) and the intensity of your workout.
The most important thing is to get moving and raise that heart rate and respiration. For someone who has been very sedentary, a walk around the block will be a workout. For a more active person, a run around the block is more like it. Believe it or not, the benefits will be almost equal. The runner may burn more calories, but the walker will see benefits almost as quickly, because of the work they’re demanding of their bodies.
So what kinds of cardio are best? That depends largely on you and the shape you’re in. If you’re extremely overweight or have back, ankle, knee or other joint problems, you want to do cardio that minimizes impact on the joints. Swimming, dancing, walking and cycling are all excellent choices. If you’re less overweight, have no breathing or heart problems and strong bones and joints, running, stair climbing, tennis and ball sports are good.
No matter which form of cardio you choose, start slowly and progress steadily. Always be looking for your next goal post. This will help you to keep losing weight and also protect you from injury.
When you’re ready to up the intensity, increase your distance or laps, up your speed, or add hand or ankle weights.
Strength Training: Why and How to Do It
Strength training is also known as weight training, but you don’t necessarily need weights to do it. What you’re really doing is weight bearing exercise. Weight bearing means using resistance or even the weight of your own body to provide resistance.
A push up is a weight training exercise. So is a pull up. No weight is needed other than your own. Resistance bands use tension instead of weight and are just as effective as a barbell or dumbbells.
Strength training builds lean muscle, which speeds up your metabolism, gives your body shape and definition, protects your back and joints from injury and even builds bone density.
Strength training is an essential part of your weight loss exercise program and you can get a great workout in just twenty minutes or less a day. Like cardio, it can be good or it can be better. One of the ways to maximize the effectiveness of your strength training is to use slow movement, known as the slow lift technique. By slowing the speed of a movement, such as a curl or a push up, you work the muscle harder, reach muscle fatigue faster and lessen the chance of injury from poor form or using momentum.
The Best of the Best Weight Loss Exercise: Interval Training
Hands down, the fastest way to get lean in the least amount of time is interval training. Interval training means alternating the intensity of your workout. It shakes up your metabolism, making it run faster than a steady workout. This effect lasts for hours after your workout is over. It also creates muscle confusion, keeping your muscles from becoming “used” to a workout and working less efficiently.
To incorporate interval training into your cardio, alternate two minutes of moderately paced work with one minute of intense work, then back again. Always begin and end with the slower pace. To use this principle in your strength training program, alternate two sets of weight training moves, like curls, with jumping jacks, running in place, or running on a treadmill.
You’ll be amazed at how much faster your weight loss will progress if you incorporate exercise into your plan. Not only will you lose weight faster and look better once you reach your goal, you’ll be able to eat more while you’re getting there.