One of the most common questions gym instructors are asked is; what are the most effective weight loss exercises?
Excess weight is gained when we consume more energy, in the form of calories, than we use up. The excess is then stored as fat! The only way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than the body burns. Your body will be forced to use the excess fat to meet its energy needs.
Of course, the most obvious way of doing this is to eat less, but if you combine this with calorie-burning exercise you will shift that excess flab much quicker and easier.
The best calorie burning and weight loss exercises are aerobic, or cardiovascular, workouts. This works large muscle groups, such as the glutes, abdominals, and quadriceps, plus upper and lower back muscles. It also causes the heart and lungs to work harder to satisfy the body’s increased need for oxygen.
The body tends to switch to fat burning mode after 20 minutes of continuous, fairly low intensity exercise, so try to make your workouts last for more than 20 minutes at a time. For effective fat burning, you should be out of breath but still able to hold a conversation.
Good cardiovascular exercises include
Walking; walking is easy, gentle, and can usually be fitted into your daily routine. Start with short, easy walks and gradually build up, especially if you haven’t exercised for some time. Try to build up to walking at least 30 minutes five times per week. Make sure you have a good pair of shoes which offer you enough support.
Running; running can burn a large number of calories in a relatively short space of time, and can be a very effective way to lose weight. If you are not used to running, or have quite a lot of weight to lose, build up slowly by alternating running short distances and walking, gradually building up the length of time you are running.
If you run 20- 25 minutes three times per week, you will soon see the benefits. Don’t try to increase your weekly mileage too suddenly as you may injure yourself. If you want to start running, a proper pair of running shoes is essential; good sports stores will analyze your gait and advise you on the best shoes to suit your running style.
Swimming; swimming is excellent exercise, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose or have an injury, as your body weight is completely supported by the water. Again, start slowly and gradually increase the distance you swim.
Cardio equipment; this is usually found in the gym, and includes treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bikes, steppers and rowing machines. Any of these offer a good cardiovascular workout, and most have difficulty settings so you can increase the intensity of your workouts as your fitness increases.
Elliptical trainers and rowing machines allow you to work your upper body as well as your lower body. If you don’t fancy joining a gym, you can buy cardiovascular equipment for use at home.
Gyms also offer exercise classes which offer a cardiovascular workout- you can try anything from step classes to water aerobics! Many classes combine cardio work with toning and strength training.
It is a good idea to include strength training into your exercise routine. This will improve muscle endurance and strength, and make your body more injury resistant. Don’t think you have to bulk up like Arnie Schwarzenegger though! Strength training will tone muscles and improve your overall body shape.
It is a well known fact that muscle requires more energy to function than fat; strength training will increase your muscle mass and raise your metabolism so that you will be burning more calories per day.
Your gym should have a good range of strength training equipment- ask a qualified instructor to show you how to use it. If you prefer to exercise at home, a set of weights can be purchased quite cheaply. Make sure you know how to use them properly, and don’t try to start off with weights that are too heavy for you.
If you are willing to put the work in to your weight loss exercises regime, combining cardio work with some strength training, you will soon reap the rewards in the form of a healthy, fit, slim and well toned body.
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