All said and done, losing weight comes down to a numbers game. You can't lose weight without a caloric deficit. But 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.
Here's how the numbers break down: 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. In an effort to achieve a caloric deficit, below are five types of exercises that will get you there!
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. A good way to maintain a good cardio pace is to make sure you can talk but not sing. For example, 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.
2. High-Intensity Interval Training
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.
3. Weight Lifting
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.
4. Circuit Training
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.
5. Mix It Up!
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.
Eating smaller meals and replacing unhealthy, fatty foods with healthier, low-calorie alternatives creates an even greater caloric deficit and allows you to ease up a little on your workouts.
Consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine, especially if you have a health condition or an injury.
More About MyPlate
The free LIVESTRONG MyPlate calorie tracker app for iPhone and Android has helped millions of people lose weight the healthy way -- by getting support from an active community as they track their eating and exercise. Consistently a top-rated app, MyPlate offers the latest technology in an easy-to-use tool that includes millions of foods and recipes, 5-minute in-app workouts and a robust support community.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned In 30 Minutes For People of Three Different Weights
- American Council on Exercise: High-Intensity Interval Training
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Lifting Your Way to Weight Loss
- Ask the Trainer: Exercises for Losing Weight