Exercise is a big part of the weight loss equation. It helps you to burn more calories, which–when combined with diet–creates the calorie deficit that you need to lose weight. People work out in many different ways. The most successful way for you is to choose a method that you enjoy doing, so that you’ll stay with it long term.
Your body needs cardiovascular exercise to improve the function of the heart and to burn more calories. You should spend the majority of your exercise time doing cardio exercises, as these are most beneficial for your body.
Types of Cardiovascular Exercise
Steady-state exercise and interval training are the two main types of cardiovascular exercise. When you go for a walk, hop on a bike or take an aerobics class, you’re most likely doing “steady-state” cardiovascular exercise. In this type of exercise, you are working out at a fairly steady state throughout the duration. Your heart rate should remain elevated at about the same rate. This method burns the most calories and the longer you work out, the more calories you’ll burn.
In interval training, you do a quick warm-up, and then alternate about a minute of comfortable exercise with about 30 seconds of high-intensity exercise. The intense phase should be so difficult that you can only keep up this pattern for 20 to 30 minutes. You technically burn fewer calories doing this than you would in a steady state workout, but the Body Recomposition website points out that studies have shown increased fat loss in people who practice this type of exercise. You should only do this type of exercise three times a week, alternating with steady state.
Building your muscles can also help you to lose weight. A muscular body has a higher metabolism, which means that you’ll burn fat faster. As you age, your muscle begins to deteriorate, leading to fat gain later in life. Training your muscles can prevent this middle age bulge from creeping up on you.
Types of Muscle Training
If you want to train your muscles, you can use the machines at the gym, bodyweight exercises or free weights.
The machines can be good for beginners because they position your body correctly. The downside to using a machine is that you’re isolating only a few muscles to work out–this doesn’t happen in real life, so if your goal is to become better at sports in addition to losing weight, you should look at other methods.
In a bodyweight exercise, you are using your own body weight as the resistance in training your muscles. Examples of these include squats, lunges, push-ups and triceps dips. The advantage to these is that you are using several muscle groups at the same time. For example, when you do push-ups, you are working your chest and arm muscles, but you are also tightening your stomach for balance. You can do bodyweight exercises anywhere.
To use free weights, you lift the dumbbell to build your muscles. This adds more resistance than bodyweight exercises, which means that you can build muscle faster.
Designing a Workout Plan
Your workout plan should include both cardiovascular and muscle training. It needs to be activities that you enjoy doing, so that you don’t think of your exercise time as another chore. After about a month, you should change the exercises that you do to challenge your body more, as you burn fewer calories once your body becomes used to an exercise.