Exercise to lose weight doesn't exist in a vacuum: No amount of crunches, tricep extensions or hours spent on an elliptical will answer your weight-loss prayers all on their own. The best weight-loss plans include a comprehensive workout routine — with cardio and strength training — and a healthy diet.
But even if, as the saying goes, abs are made in the kitchen, you shouldn't just toss your running shoes to the side and ditch your weight-loss workouts entirely. Instead, you're going to want to maximize the benefits of your exercise of choice by picking the right cardio, upping the intensity of your walking and adding weekly strengthening sessions to your mix.
HIIT Your Cardio Workouts
The secret sauce of losing weight with cardio is trading your low-and-slow treadmill jaunts for something a little sweatier. To really see results on the treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike, you're going to want to increase the intensity of your favorite form of cardio. You'll also burn more fat in less time if you make a few simple tweaks.
Why You Should Build Muscle to Shed Weight
Sure, cardio blasts calories, but strength training can be just as — if not more — effective for long-term weight loss. Why? Building muscle actually increases your calorie burn long after your workout's over, even if you're just watching Netflix. (Really!) Your best bet for a weight-loss exercise plan that really delivers is combining both cardio and weight lifting — especially if you know how to set up the most efficient workout in the least amount of time.
Walking Your Way to Your Goal Weight
Walking is a legit form of exercise that's accessible to almost everyone and, yes, it can help you lose weight — so long as you set realistic expectations and are patient with your progress. Learning strategies for burning more calories while you walk — like heading to the hills, literally — can help you reach your goals.
What About Running?
Running burns an impressive number of calories (around 200 for just a 30-minute jog!). But if you really want to lose weight running, you need to start slow, cross-train and eat a nutritious diet, too. Scheduling rest days is key to preventing injury so you can run on the regular, as is varying your terrain, speed and intensity for the best weight-loss results.
Your Gym Plan for Losing Weight
The gym can be a perplexing place for many of us. What exercises should you do? How many sets and reps? And what will help you actually lose weight? Turns out losing weight at the gym isn't as complicated as it might seem, especially if you remember this pro tip: Once you get comfortable, it's time to up the intensity.
What If You'd Rather Stay Home?
Tight on money, time and/or space? No problem — you can still log a solid workout at home and lose weight. But not just any exercise will get you there. You'll want to prioritize moves that elevate your heart rate and strengthen your whole body so you can maximize calorie burn.