A Woman's Workout Plan to Lose 20 Lbs.

While women can lose 20 pounds by making adjustments to their nutrition, incorporating a workout plan will make a significant impact on whether or not you'll keep the weight off longterm. A workout plan with cardio and resistance training will help burn the calories needed for weight loss, while toning your muscles and strengthening your bones. How quickly you'll lose weight will depend on a few factors -- but you can safely lose 20 pounds in 10 to 20 weeks.

Women doing a workout class outside.
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Attacking Fat with Exercise

Exercise is an important component of a successful weight plan because it increases the overall numbers of calories you'll burn. To lose weight, you've got to burn a higher number of calories than you consume over a set period of time. Once you burn 3,500 more calories than you take in, you'll lose a pound. ACE notes a safe rate of weight loss is one to two pounds of weight loss per week.

Burning Calories

Cardio exercise, which includes exercises like jogging, swimming and biking, are the most effective way to burn a high number of calories quickly. Running, playing basketball and swimming are among the most efficient for burning calories -- but you should select the cardio exercise that you enjoy most. How frequent you are with your cardio workouts will make the biggest impact on the number of overall calories you'll burn, so it's important to pick an activity you enjoy. Complete four to six cardio workouts per week, with each session lasting 30 to 60 minutes. The longer your workout, the more calories you'll burn, so if you're unable to complete a workout of 60 minutes, consider splitting up your exercise into two separate 30-minute sessions.

Rate of Weight Loss

Losing 20 pounds is a lofty, but attainable goal. Women have a tendency to hold onto fat due to slower metabolic rates. You can estimate how long it will take you to lose 20 pounds by getting an idea of how many calories you burn during your cardio workouts. If you weigh 160 pounds and participate in jogging for your workout, you'll burn about 15.1 calories per minute. This means you'll burn about 453 calories in a 30-minute workout or about 906 calories in a 60-minute session. If you were to jog six days per week, you'd burn 2,718 calories if your jogs lasted 30 minutes or 5,436 if you jogged for 60 minutes. Therefore, you'd create a 3,500 caloric deficit and lose a pound about every week and a half if you jogged in 30-minute increments. And you'd lose over a pound and a half every week at jogging for 60 minutes at a time.

Pumping Iron

Women are hesitant to lift weights because they're afraid of bulking up. However, women naturally possess lower levels of muscle-building hormones and so it takes a truly aggressive, high-volume weight-lifting plan to cause a significant increase in muscle mass in women. With typical weight-training workouts, women will put on small amounts of lean muscle. This will create a toned appearance, but more importantly cause an increase in your metabolic rate. An elevated metabolic rate means that you burn more calories at all times of the day, even when you're sleeping, which equates to a greater number of overall calories burned. Women naturally have a slower metabolic rate than men, so increasing it through weightlifting can be an extremely beneficial tool for losing weight. The American Council on Exercise recommends lifting weights two days per week and completing one to two sets of 12 to 15 reps.

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