We all know that exercise and weight loss go hand in hand. However, not all exercises are created equal when it comes to shedding extra pounds. With countless exercise routines and trends floating around online, figuring out which activities are truly effective for weight loss can be a challenge. Luckily, that’s where we come in. We talked to Rachel MacPherson, CPTACE Certified Personal Trainer with Garage Gym Reviews shares the top 10 weight loss exercises to help you melt away stubborn body fat for good.
You’re ahead of the game if you’re already exercising regularly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60% of US adults do not get the recommended amount of physical activity, and one quarter of Americans do not get any exercise.
Regardless of your fitness level, these exercises will burn calories, boost your metabolism, improve endurance, build strength, and boost your overall health. The best part is that you’ll find a mix of strength training and endurance-building exercises, along with high-intensity exercises and low-impact options. This variety allows you to choose exercises that suit your fitness level and preferences.
Keep reading for MacPherson’s top 10 weight loss exercises and detailed instructions for each one. Next, don’t miss the #1 daily exercise for women to melt the fat from the sack.
Squats with a barbell
First on this list of the best trainer-approved exercises for weight loss is the barbell squat. Barbell squats are a classic strength training exercise for a reason. “Barbell squats are a compound strength movement that uses multiple muscle groups, burns a lot of calories, and builds muscle, which helps increase metabolism,” explains McPherson. “Research shows that resistance training is better than cardio for weight loss, especially over time.
Stand under a barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing slightly outward or forward, depending on your anatomy. The weight should be on your traps (upper back) over your shoulders, using an overhand grip. Keep your back straight and your chest high as you lean into your hips, bending your knees toward your toes, not allowing them to buckle. Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor or below, depending on your anatomy and range of motion. Imagine lifting your chest first, not your hips, pushing through your entire feet to rise to the starting position. Repeat eight to 10 repetitions in three sets twice a week.
Sprinting is a form of high-intensity cardio that raises your heart rate, burns calories, and promotes weight loss. Plus, they can be done almost anywhere, making them accessible to all fitness levels.
“Sprinting is a fast way to burn calories and improve fitness. Research shows that short sprints can be an effective way to lose weight, especially belly fat in women, in an even shorter time than traditional HIIT workouts. In addition, sprint training can lead to fat loss and muscle gain, which can speed up metabolism,” says MacPherson.
Try sprinting for 30 seconds four to six times with four minutes of rest between each sprint. Do this exercise two or three times a week.
Swimming is gentle on the joints, and the water resistance allows for a full body workout. Swimming also burns calories while toning your muscles.
“Swimming can improve cardiovascular health, cholesterol levels, flexibility, endurance, blood pressure and resting heart rate,” says McPherson. “It burns a lot of calories, making weight loss easier while still being low impact.”
Boxing workouts combine cardiovascular exercise and strength training, making them incredibly effective for weight loss.
“Boxing, even at a recreational level, can burn about 500 calories an hour, while more intense boxing burns about 900 calories in the same amount of time. Plus, it helps build strength and power while being a motivating and fun activity,” explains McPherson.
Join a local boxing club and aim for two or three boxing sessions a week.
Whether it’s zumba, hip-hop or ballroom, dancing gets your heart rate up and you won’t even want to exercise. MacPherson tells us, “Dancing is a fun activity that burns a lot of calories to help with weight loss. It’s an affordable cardiovascular workout that you can do with others, increasing the likelihood of maintaining motivation and consistency, which are key to successful fat loss. “
If this sounds up your alley, join a dance class where you can get an hour of dancing two or three times a week.
The deadlift is a strength exercise that is particularly useful for weight loss. They work numerous muscle groups, increasing overall calorie expenditure and building muscle. Lean muscle helps boost metabolism, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight. “The deadlift is a compound, full-body movement that uses a lot of energy to complete and helps build muscle, which boosts the metabolism,” says McPherson.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grip the bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder width. Place the hinges on your hips, bending your knees until your shins grip the bar. Keep your back straight and your chest high. Take a deep breath and tighten your core. Lift the bar off the ground thinking about pushing through your feet. Keep the bar close to your body throughout the day. At the top, lock your hips and pause for a count, exhaling before slowly lowering the bar to the ground as you inhale. Do five to 10 repetitions in three sets twice a week.
Next on this list of the best exercises for weight loss is skipping rope. Jumping rope is a simple but very effective exercise for weight loss. It’s a full-body workout you can do almost anywhere, and research shows it burns calories while improving cardiovascular health. “Skipping burns huge calories and is a fun activity where you can build skill to keep you motivated.” It’s easy to apply in between other exercises to create HIIT or circuit training,” says McPherson.
If you enjoy skipping, make it part of your morning routine and do it for 10 to 15 minutes a day.
Rock climbing or indoor climbing builds strength and burns calories while providing a mental workout as you strategize your climbs. Stair climbing is another effective form of climbing if you want to lose weight.
“Rock climbers and vertical climbers like the VersaClimber are great for losing weight and building fitness,” McPherson says. “They engage your entire body, build strength and muscle, and provide a challenging, motivating cardio workout.” Vertical climbers are also low impact, so you can use them even if you have joint problems.”
Aim to get in three 30- to 45-minute climbing sessions each week.
Walking is low impact, suitable for all fitness levels and can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. A regular walking habit can help you lose weight and improve your overall health.
“Walking is so accessible, it’s easy to recover from, you can do it for years and not get tired.” It has so many other benefits that support your overall health and weight loss, including reducing stress, improving sleep, boosting mood, and more,” MacPherson explains.
Shoot for a brisk daily walk of 25 to 30 minutes.
Proper breathing techniques can help reduce stress and improve relaxation, indirectly supporting weight loss by reducing emotional eating and cravings. MacPherson says, “Breath work is a fantastic weight-loss activity when combined with resistance exercises like squats and deadlifts and cardio activities like walking.” It relieves stress, improves sleep and digestion, and helps you feel more positive about your life, which is always helpful when you’re trying to lose weight.”
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