3 Essential Workouts to Lose Weight

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If weight loss is a goal for you, there are three main types of exercise that can help: cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility or stretching. The best workouts to lose weight incorporate all of these types of activities into a complete program. When you create a well-rounded workout schedule and a nutritious, balanced eating plan, you're likely to get better weight-loss results and feel healthier.

Cardio Workouts to Lose Weight

Cardiovascular exercise includes any rhythmic activity that makes your heart beat more quickly and causes your breathing rate to increase. Cardiovascular exercise can be called aerobic exercise, cardio, or simply aerobics. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity each week.

Running is a cardiovascular activity. So is swimming, riding a bike, brisk walking, or more intense activity like interval training and sprints. Whether you choose low-impact options such as swimming and biking, or higher impact ones like running and plyometrics, you get plenty of value from a cardio workout.

When you participate in cardio training, you burn calories. Burning more calories than you consume through your diet is vital for weight loss.

Cardiovascular activity also improves the function of your heart and lungs. While this may not directly contribute to weight loss, it will help your body perform better throughout the day, which may help you remain more active even when you are not exercising.

For example, you may be more likely to take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk to the store instead of driving. These non-exercise physical activities help you burn more calories all day long.

Try any of these cardio workouts to lose weight:

Strength Training for Weight Loss

Strength training, or resistance training, is any exercise that builds healthy muscle tissue. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults get two or more days of strength training activity every week. This activity should work all the muscle groups of the body.

Strong muscles help you move your body more efficiently. Some people refer to strength training as “lifting weights,” but there are simple bodyweight exercises that qualify as strength training even though they don't involve lifting a dumbbell or a weight plate on a machine.

Sometimes, people who are trying to lose weight will skip weight-lifting because the purpose of this type of activity is to add muscle to your frame. After all, why would you do weight-building exercises to lose weight? But in the long run, adding muscle helps you lose fat. 

When you build muscle, you increase the amount of lean tissue on your body. A body with more lean muscle mass burns more calories—even when it is at rest. For this reason, experts recommend strength training exercises to lose weight more effectively.

Strength training also becomes critical as we age. Metabolism slows as we get older. Many women find that after menopause, weight gain is almost inevitable, and weight loss is impossible. But exercisers who continue to build and maintain muscle are less likely to suffer from a slow metabolism and excessive weight gain.

Try one of these strength -training workouts:

Stretching For Weight Loss

Flexibility training is stretching. An effective stretching program takes only a small amount of time and can be done in just about any space. Even so, flexibility training is often the most neglected part of a workout. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans do not provide a specific amount of stretching to do each week but suggest it is an important part of an overall active lifestyle and can be incorporated before and after exercise.

Stretching helps maintain a good range of motion in the joints and keeps muscles loose and healthy. All of this helps you move more efficiently during the day and experience less pain from tight muscles or muscle imbalances. A flexible body is likely to move more and burn more calories.

Stretching helps relieves stress. People who are trying to lose weight often cite emotional eating as a key reason that they struggle with weight loss. Finding a healthier way to relieve stress can prevent binge eating or unhealthy choices when emotions get in the way.

If you include meditation in your stretching program, it may help you to sleep better at night. Studies have shown that people who are well-rested are more likely to make better food choices than people who are tired.

How to Combine and Schedule Workouts

Now that you know why each kind of training matters, be sure that you include each type of training into your complete weekly plan.

If you currently participate in some cardio activity on most days of the week, add 15 to 30 minutes of strength training on two of those days and just 10 minutes of stretching at the end of each session. This small time investment may help you enjoy big rewards when it’s time to step on the scale.

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.