If you want a heart-thumping, blood-pumping workout. Below are 10 Extremely Effective Workouts for Losing Weight. But let’s be real for a second here: The tricky thing about weight-loss workouts is that they’re kind of, sort of, a myth. Don’t get me wrong—if you’re trying to lose weight, a stable exercise regimen should be part of your plan. It just can’t be the only part.
If you want to lose weight, adopting healthy eating habits has got to be your first step. You’ll need to create a calorie deficit, which means using more calories in a day than you consume. Other lifestyle habits, like sleep and stress management, and health conditions (think thyroid issues, to name just one of many) also affect your weight.
The point is, weight loss is a complicated and extremely personal journey that doesn’t look or work the same way from one person to the next.
Keeping in mind that eating well and the sleeping enough, specific exercises and workouts can be particularly useful in helping you lose weight or burn fat or change your body composition.
These workouts tend to have a couple of elements in common: They’re generally high-intensity, and they burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. Here are the types of exercise trainers recommend getting the most out of your gym workout.
1. Interval Training
The number one training method the experts turn to again and again for weight loss: interval training. What’s that? Any form of exercise where your heart rate spikes and then comes down repeatedly.
It means going hard for a set interval of time, followed by active rest, then going hard again. That active recovery portion is vital. You need to take it down a notch before ramping back up to a higher intensity interval.
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is one of the many styles you can do. Another popular one is indoor cycling, though this workout leans heavily toward cardio over strength training.
Cycling requires you to use various muscles in your body—quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core, for starters—which once again translates to weight loss. The more muscles you incorporate, the more calories you’re going to burn because those muscles all require energy to work. And the more power you use, the higher those calorie-burning numbers climb. It’s all a cycle.
2. Weight Training
Resistance training, whether it’s with your bodyweight alone or with added weights, is an effective method to help build muscle and burn fat. Lifting weights have been shown to increase your resting metabolic rate, which means your body burns more calories even when you’re not working out.
The effect isn’t enormous, but building muscle means more muscle mass to churn through calories as you go about your day. Plus, more muscle means you can go harder next time, increasing your weight, and getting even more out of each workout.
Plus, if you’re lifting at a high intensity, you get the bonus of the “afterburn effect,” which is when you’ve put down the weights, your body is still using up extra energy.
Try adding weight training to your routine at least three times a week. And since your body adjusts to workouts after being exposed to the same moves at the same intensity, becoming less effective over time, mix it up about every three weeks to keep your body guessing.
3. Boot Camp
For a workout that’s going to keep your metabolism elevated, turn to boot camp, as these classes combine two of the most effective styles of training: interval and resistance. “You’ll perform exercises, some more cardio-focused and others strength-focused, full-out for short bursts of time, coupled with short periods of rest.
But if it’s your first time going to a boot camp class, speak up. A good instructor will help you determine when you need to crank up the weight or intensity, keep your form on par, and can always provide a modification for any move that might be too tough or irritates an injury.
At its essence, boxing is another form of interval training. Here’s the trick to remember: It’s a common mistake for beginners to punch using only their arm strength, but much of your power is going to come from your core, and you’ll use muscles that generally aren’t used in other workouts.
It’s best to log this type of workout in a class, as it’s crucial for beginners to learn proper form from an instructor who can help keep your intensity level high.
All you need is a pair of sneakers before you head out the door. But if weight loss is the name of your game, the lackadaisical light jog style of running isn’t the way to go. Instead, find a hill you can sprint up, or crank the incline on that treadmill.
Running up hills forces you to work your glutes and legs—two of your body’s most prominent muscle groups—even more, which requires smaller muscle recruitment and more energy expenditure.
But remember proper form here is critical. Lean into the hill, and drive your knees as high as you can, striking the ball of each foot down directly under your body. Keep your hands open, and arms bent at 90 degrees and drove your arms straight forward up to face level, then back to the top of your back pocket. And try not to let your arms cross over your body—that’ll waste the precious energy your muscles need.
There’s a reason CrossFit has become such a booming part of the workout industry—it works, so long as you don’t overdo it. Workouts are varied—you may be doing anything from kettlebell swings to rope climbs, and box jumps to front squats—and the routines are designed to be short and intense.
The most important thing to find when looking for the CrossFit gym that fits you best: a well-informed coach who can explain and modify the moves, and make sure that you don’t push yourself to the point of injury.
If your biggest excuse for skipping a workout is short for time, Tabata is your dream come true. It’s designed to be four minutes of high-intensity interval training that consists of 20 seconds of all-out effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. And you can use this protocol with any number of different exercises.
You’ll spike your metabolism and heart rate in four minutes, but don’t make this time frame a habit if you’re trying to lose weight. Your body will quickly adapt to that interval, and you’ll need to increase the volume or intensity to continue getting a benefit from it.
To do that, try extending your session to 20 minutes and following the same format. Merely pick four exercises—think jump rope, squats, mountain climbers, and squat jumps—then do each for 20 seconds as hard and fast as you can (while maintaining proper form, of course), then recovering for 10 seconds and 10 seconds only. Repeat for eight rounds on that one move (so, four minutes of work) before resting for one minute and moving on to the next exercise.
OK, so yoga alone isn’t a great workout for weight loss. But it can be a secret weapon in your weight loss arsenal because it keeps you flexible and healthy for your other, more intense workouts (like that boot camp class).
But that’s not all. Yoga requires balance and stability, which promotes functional strength, and it helps our mental health. Aim to squeeze it in at least once a week.
If you are looking for a low-impact workout, do a few laps in the pool. It’s a low-impact exercise that will work for all your major muscle groups. As with most drills, it helps to go in with a plan.
Try this one: Tread water for as long as possible by standing upright in the deep end and using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Then rest for two minutes. Now swim ten sets of 100 meters (that’s back-and-forth lap in an Olympic-sized pool), resting for one minute in between sets. By the time you climb out of the pool, your muscles will be pleasantly worn out.
10. Jumping Rope
It’s time to kick it back to the good ole’ days of P.E. class when you first learned how to swing a jump rope. This tool is cheap, portable (it’ll fit in the tiny parts of your suitcase!) and can be used just about anywhere. After just a few minutes you will feel your heart rate racing!
Warm up with a light 3-minute skip with the rope.
Then do 100 traditional jumps (both feet leave the floor at the same time, and no extra hops in between).
Once you finish, immediately complete 100 jump rope sprints (think regular jumping rope but at an even quicker pace)
Oh, and whatever you do, don’t do it barefoot. Few things compare to the pain of missing a skip and smacking the tip of your toe with a jump rope.
Note: You can do this entire sequence mock-style, though, if you don’t have a rope handy.
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