A caloric deficit is required to lose weight. You can create a deficit through diet, exercise or a combination of the two. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention generally recommends losing no more than 2 pounds a week through diet and exercise. If using only exercise to achieve weight loss, a rate of 1/2 pound to 1 pound a week might be more realistic. Because 1 pound represents 3,500 calories, you must create a daily deficit of 250 to 500 calories to achieve your goal. The result will be the loss of 2 to 4 pounds a month.
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Engage in moderate cardiovascular exercise on most days to burn calories. The CDC recommends doing 30 to 60 minutes of cardio five days a week. Maintain an exercise pace during which you can still talk but not sing. In 30 minutes of moderate intensity a 155-pound person can burn 335 calories by pedaling on an elliptical machine; 260 calories by rowing or riding a bike; and 223 calories by exercising on a stair climber.
Turn two of your cardiovascular workouts into high-intensity interval sessions to optimize your caloric burn in minimal time. Speed up to a vigorous pace for one minute and then slow down to a moderate pace for two minutes. Initially, alternate the intensities four times. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, work your way up to completing eight to 10 intervals. Because you're working harder and burning more calories, keep your sessions about 20 to 40 minutes long.
Perform strength training on two days each week. A 155-pound person can burn about 223 calories during a half-hour strength-training session. Additionally, the muscle tissue you build increases your body's resting metabolism, so you burn calories even when you're resting. Work all major muscles with compound and combination exercises, which optimize muscle stimulation and caloric burn. For example, include bench presses, push-ups, squats with front raises, step-ups with overhead presses, and lunges with lateral raises.
Minimize the rest you take in between strength-training sets to use the workout as a circuit-training session, which optimizes your caloric burn. Swiftly move from one exercise to the next so your heart rate stays elevated. For example, perform one set of bench presses followed by a set of lunges. Then perform a set of crunches and a set of dead lifts. After this, perform squats and push-ups. Repeat all the exercises up to three times.
Add variety to your exercise routine so you don't get bored with your workout and continue to challenge your body. Take a class in dance, yoga, Pilates or kickboxing, or participate in a group sport. Instead of always using weightlifting machines, use exercise bands, free weights or your body weight for resistance.