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[Killer Exercises] Lose Weight and Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!
Health & Fitness
[Killer Exercises] Lose Weight and Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!
When it comes to weight loss, there is one formula that has stood the test of time: a healthy diet combined with regular exercise. Exercise is a crucial part of the equation because it burns calories and fat, plus elevates your metabolism for more efficient weight loss overall. The Center for Disease Control says that regular physical activity is "the only way to maintain weight loss."
We consulted with top fitness experts to find out which workouts they recommend to help you shed unwanted pounds. Try these 15 exercises to reap maximum weight loss benefits.
1. Running intervals
Nearly all of our experts agreed that interval running is one of the best ways to boost weight loss. Interval runs consist of pushing your body to the max by sprinting for a short amount of time (one or two minutes) interchanged with a couple minutes of slower jogging or walking to recover.
"It helps you build up stamina and is proven to help you lose belly fat," says Beth Shaw, fitness and weight loss guru. "It also revs up your metabolism and initiates the fat burning process and after-burn, which translates to more calories lost."
Try alternating sprinting and jogging or walking for about 30 to 45 minutes. You can perform these outside or on a treadmill.
2. Elliptical trainer
Shaw also suggests working up a sweat on a Cybex Arc Trainer or elliptical machine for 45 minutes, making sure you have the tension up so you’re not coasting. Ellipticals are one of the most effective cardio machines in the gym because you use your whole body, including your arms, which is something that treadmills cannot provide. Elliptical trainers are also easier on your joints. A 45-minute workout should burn about 300 calories.
3. Hiking with a backpack
According to Shaw, there are few forms of exercise that will help you lose weight as easily as hiking. "One thing that makes hiking so good for weight loss and exercise is that you’re forced to walk," she explains. "If you spend an hour hiking away from your car, you’ll have to spend another hour hiking back to your car." Try to choose a trail with peaks and dips that will challenge you and get your heart rate up to burn more calories.
4. Add weight training to cardio
Adding weight training to your cardio routine can help you lose 40 percent more fat. Shaw suggests this intense 25-minute weight training sequence (4 sets each and 12-15 on each side):
1. Bicep curls (try doing them on one leg)
2. Reverse lunges
3. Chair squat
4. Dead lifts
5. Triceps kick back
6. Chest press
7. Shoulder press
5. Walking lunges
Dave Smith, fitness trainer and Canada’s Top Fitness Pro, says that compound exercises like walking lunges work great for weight loss. "They involve multiple large muscle groups and burn far more calories than isolated small-muscle exercises like bicep curls," he says. Hold dumbbells during your lunges for maximum efficiency.
6. Barbell deadlifts
Barbell deadlifts is another compound exercise Smith suggests that involves all of the largest muscle groups, including the lower back, calves, forearms, glutes, hamstrings, lats, middle back, quadriceps, and traps.
7. Medicine ball squat and throw
One excellent compound exercise Smith recommends is the squat-and-throw with a medicine ball. Here’s how to perform it:
1. Squat, holding medicine ball
2. Throw ball straight into the air as you stand
3. Catch ball and immediately squat again
4. Repeat 10-20 times
If you don’t belong to a gym or own fancy equipment, good old walking can still contribute to your weight loss goals, as long as you’re consistent. Says Smith: "It’s not ‘sexy,’ BUT… the most crucial factor when it comes to losing weight via exercise is adherence. If walking is doable and sustainable, then that’s what you should do!" Try some speed walking if you can, and remember, the longer you walk, the more calories burned.
9. Circuit training
Fitness instructor and coach Julie Wilcoxrecommends circuit training, which combines bursts of cardio with abdominal exercises and glute toning. These can include squats, kettle bell work and lunges. Because circuit training involves so many different workouts targeting different muscle groups, you are challenging your whole body and keeping your heart rate up, which is key for losing weight.
10. Jumping rope
Jumping rope is another favorite of Wilcox’s for weight loss. An intense cardio workout, an hour of rope jumping can burn up to 800 calories and works the arms, legs, and core. While an hour straight of jumping is not recommended, it can be added to your circuit training or interval training routine.
11. High intensity interval training (HIIT)
According to Wilcox, HIIT is one of the most effective forms of exercise for weight loss. It combines low impact moves with high impact moves and plyometric exercises in rapid succession. Plyometrics are movements in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, such as burpees, jump squats or bench jumps.
For a high intensity cardio workout that burns major calories, Wilcox recommends spinning. You can burn a whopping 500 calories per class and tone your thighs and butt in the process. However, you may want to limit the spinning if you have a tendency to develop "thunder thighs," says Wilcox.
13. Cardio fat burn workout
If you’re new to working out, BeFit trainer Allie Cohen proposes this 10-minute cardio fat burning workout. You benefit from a wide range of exercises including wide squats, jumping rope, squat/curls to overhead presses, lateral lunge rows and knee smashes.
14. Stair climbing
Climbing stairs is a vigorous aerobic workout that can also give you a toned and shapely butt. Since you’re working against gravity, your muscles are forced to work harder and your body burns massive amounts of calories. A 155-pound individual will burn approximately 446 calories an hour walking up stairs. If you have a history of knee injuries, consult with your physician before attempting this exercise.
15. Cardio and bodyweight exercises
Everyone’s body is different, so it’s important to find the workout that works best for you. When I can feel my jeans getting tight, I step up my workouts and do a full hour of cardio (20 minutes each on the elliptical, stair climber and treadmill) followed by bodyweight exercises like crunches, planks, lunges, squats or pushups. I always wrap up with about 15 minutes of yoga-like stretching. I do this three to four times a week and it always makes a difference.
Trainer Steve Diamond recommends plyometrics for weight loss – exercises that employ quick, explosive movements, like burpees, jump squats or bench jumps. In fact, plyometric training is often called "jump training." During plyometric moves, large muscles in the body are stretched before they contract. This creates intense power and effort and increases the calorie burn.
17. Sustained, intense run for 20 minutes
Diamond often has his clients do intense running for 20 minutes straight. Studies show that you can burn up to 200 calories in a two-and-a-half minute sprint, which means 20 minutes will burn 1,600! Run at your top speed for a full 20 and be sure to allow time for your body to cool down and return to a normal heart rate.
18. High repetition squats with a barbell
According to Diamond, squats with a barbell are an effective calorie burner and can boost your metabolism by strengthening your muscles. Barbell squats are a compound exercise that work your entire body: your quadriceps, lower back, abs, upper back, shoulders, arms, and yes, the booty.
19. Mountain climbers
Diamond likes to incorporate mountain climbers into interval training workouts as a means to get the heart rate up and burn calories. Mountain climbers emulate the action performed when climbing an actual mountain and can be done with no equipment. It is an excellent form of cardio and works the core, lower body, hips and legs. Start in plank pose, drawn abdominals in towards the spine – like marching but on the floor – and lift knee to chest, quickly alternating legs for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
20. Squat thrusts
A favorite of Diamond’s, squat thrusts combine aerobic exercise and strength training into one sequence, giving you a solid cardiovascular workout plus working your legs and core. From a standing position, squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Jump back with both feet into a plank position, which looks like the top of a push-up, keeping your body in s straight line. From this position, jump forward with both feet and return to a squat, then stand up and repeat.
Zumba is a Latin dance-inspired aerobic workout that can burn mega calories, and best of all, it’s fun! Ashlee Tomsche lost 123 pounds in a year after discovering Zumba. The trick, says Tomsche, is finding a workout that you love, which will inspire you to stick with it consistently.
22. Shuttle run
You may remember these from high school physical education class – and it’s also an exercise used in the NFL to test speed and agility. Set two markers 30 feet apart from each other and place two small objects behind each marker. Starting from the first marker, sprint to the next marker and pick up the object, then run it back to the starting line. Place the object down and pick up the second object, then run it back to the opposite marker and repeat. Watch this video for technique.