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Published on July 17, 2020

Your Ultimate Workout Routine to Lose Weight Effectively

Your Ultimate Workout Routine to Lose Weight Effectively

With gyms reopening all over the world, and a big chunk of the population having packed a bunch of pounds around their waist, it’s easy to understand why weight loss is becoming more and more popular by the hour. Now that most countries are softening the restrictions on their citizens, people are looking for the ultimate workout routine to lose weight effectively.

Before diving into the technicalities of which types of exercise you should choose, it’s best to keep in mind that the best way to lose fat is to mix intense activity, like gym training, running, or sports, with a decent amount of mild, daily movements, like walking, yoga, or climbing stairs.

Relying on exercise only without keeping an active lifestyle won’t be nearly as effective as combining 4-5 intense exercise sessions with complementary daily movement.

Here are the exercises you should include in your workout routine to lose weight.

Step 1: Daily Walks

Aim for 10,000 steps per day.

If you’re able to be out and about, aim to get 10,000 steps per day. Walking serves as a great way to clear your head, manage stress, and keep fat gain to a minimum.

This may not sound like a big deal, but getting around 10,000 steps per day may burn as many as 500 calories. Taken over the week, that’s 3500 calories, or the same number of calories in a pound of fat.

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Walk in the morning. Walk while doing meetings on the phone. Walk after meals. Walk while you listen to podcasts. Walking time doesn’t need to be dead time.

Bonus: Use Nasal Breathing

When you go for your walks, press your tongue against the roof of your mouth and breathe through your nose. Nasal breathing has a ton of benefits[1], including better oxygen extraction (which can lead to more energy), maintaining a balanced pH in your body through improved carbon dioxide breakdown, and decreased nerve activity in the sympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system arouses the body through the fight or flight response. When this is chronically high due to periods of high stress, cortisol increases, which can suppress your immune system, increase fat gain, and decrease muscle gain. Long story short: nasal breathing reduces stress and improves your health.

Never underestimate the importance of being on your feet most of the day in achieving your weight loss goals, and once your daily steps have become a habit, you can dive into the next essential piece of quick weight loss: burning more calories with HIIT.

Step 2: HIIT Training

The best types of exercise to burn calories are intense cardio activities like:

  • Skipping rope (667-990 calories/hour)
  • Running interval sprints (639-946 calories/hour)
  • Kickboxing (582-864 calories/hour)
  • Cycling intervals (568-841 calories/hour)

What do all these activities have in common? They all fit into the HIIT (high-intensity interval training) category. If you’re looking for the most time-effective strategy to lose weight with exercise, you should surely implement some HIIT components.

What Is HIIT Training?

HIIT workouts generally combine short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. At fitness studios and online, these workouts often mix aerobic and resistance training. Sports like boxing and football have some HIIT components because they require an intensity that cannot be sustained longer than a minute or so, followed by periods of rest two to three times the duration of the sprint.

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The HIIT principle can be adapted in exercises of all sorts, like running (running sprints), cycling (uphill bursts), rowing, swimming, and so on, but also to standard gym training or bodyweight training (just think of a set of burpees).

Knowing this, it’s pretty clear that HIIT should be one of the main components of any weight-loss program, combined with your mandatory daily steps. However, we’re missing another piece of the puzzle to create the ultimate workout routine to lose weight effectively: progressive overload weight training[2]

Step 3: Progressive Overload

This principle involves continually increasing the demands on the musculoskeletal system to continually make gains in muscle size, strength, and endurance. Simply put, in order to get bigger and stronger, you must continually make your muscles work harder than they’re used to. Most often, that means increasing the resistance, but as you’ll find below, there are other methods to increase the overload.

Conversely, if the demands on the target muscle groups are not at least maintained or are actually decreased, your muscles will atrophy, losing size and strength.

Progressive overload is a very simple but crucial concept, laying the foundation upon which successful resistance training is built.

The progressive-overload principle doesn’t apply just to lifting weights to increase muscle growth and strength; it can also be applied to cardiovascular-fitness programs, creating physiological changes that affect aerobic metabolism and the cardiorespiratory system.

Let’s take a set of press-ups as an example:

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If on your first week of a new workout you complete four sets of 10 press-ups, you could apply the principle of progressive overload the following week by making the sets of press-ups more intense in the following ways:

  1. Increase the number of reps (if you did 4 sets of 10 the previous week, you could do 4 sets of 11 repetitions the following week).
  2. Increase the number of sets (doing 5 sets of 10 repetitions instead of four).
  3. Decrease the amount of rest in between the sets (if you were resting 60″ in between sets on the first week, rest 50″ the following week).
  4. Increase the load. On a set of press-ups, that could mean adding a 2.5kg plate above your back or increasing the effect of gravity by lifting one leg in the air or placing both feet on the couch so that your body is declined towards the floor.

As you can see, progressive overload means to progressively increase the effort you put on a particular exercise. But why is this so important for weight loss?

The Afterburn Effect

The afterburn effect, also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), refers basically to the increased quantity of calories burned after exercise[3].

Physical activity increases muscles’ demand for oxygen (VO2), which oxidizes carbohydrates and fats, producing the energy required for movement. The demand of the human body for oxygen increases proportionately with the intensity of your workout.

During intense exercise, your body needs more oxygen than breathing can provide. This gap between the demand for oxygen in the muscles and the actual amount of oxygen delivered is called the “oxygen debt.” In order to “pay off” the oxygen debt, restore balance, and “cool off,” the human body usually needs a few hours. In that time, it consumes more than 10 liters of extra oxygen, thus burning more calories post-workout.

To take advantage of this fascinating ability of the body and enjoy the reward of extra calories burned, you should make sure you train the right way by constantly applying some sort of progressive overload.

Studies have shown that one of the main factors influencing the accelerated burning of calories after the workout is the intensity of the activity. With an increase in the exercise intensity (progressive overload and, of course, HIIT), the magnitude and duration of EPOC increases. Low-intensity physical effort has shown the smallest effect on post-exercise calorie burning. The effect of combustion after the completion of intensive training can take up to 10 hours.

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In simple words: each workout you perform should get more intense each time you perform it again, and it should include some sort of maximum intensity in short bursts (HIIT) to really maximize calorie consumption and, therefore, weight loss.

Step 4: Putting It All Together

Here is an “ideal structure” you can use to create the ultimate workout routine to lose weight, allowing you to choose the form of exercise that you enjoy the most. Always remember that the best exercise for you is the one you will actually do. Therefore, choosing a training style or sport that you truly enjoy is as important as getting your daily steps.

Now that I made that clear, let’s get to the meat!

At-Home Workout

Let’s take a 4-week protocol as an example.

Week 1

  • 7 days of 10-12,000 daily steps, possibly catching the morning sunlight to adjust your circadian rhythms and reduce stress[4]
  • 3 exercise sessions of 40 minutes: 30 minutes of regular training and 10 minutes of HIIT cardio

Week 2

  • 7 days of 12-15,000 daily steps
  • 4 exercise sessions of 45 minutes: 35 minutes of regular training and 10 minutes of HIIT cardio

Week 3

  • 7 days of 12-15,000 daily steps (30 minutes walking at a higher pace, almost to a mild sweaty point)
  • 4 exercise sessions of 50 minutes: 35 minutes of regular training and 15 minutes of HIIT cardio

Week 4

  • 7 days of 12-15,000 daily steps (40′ minutes walking at a higher pace, almost to a mild sweaty point)
  • 4 exercise sessions of 60 minutes: 45 minutes of regular training and 15 minutes of HIIT cardio

Gym Workout

Now, let’s take gym training as an example and apply this structure. The daily steps stay the same as above, and the training goes something like this:

Week 1

  • Monday: 30 minutes leg training and 10 minutes treadmill HIIT sprints
  • Wednesday: 30 minutes upper body training and 10 minutes of assault bike HIIT sprints
  • Friday: 30 minutes of full body training and 10 minutes of HIIT burpees

Week 2

  • Monday: 35 minutes leg training and 10 minutes treadmill HIIT sprints
  • Tuesday: 35 minutes upper body training and 10 minutes of assault bike HIIT sprints
  • Thursday and Saturday: 35 minutes of full body training and 10 minutes of HIIT burpees

Week 3 and 4 are like week 2, but with longer workouts.

NOTE: In the case of weight training, splitting your training sessions in lower-body, upper-body and full-body will give you the best results because the more muscles you use during a given workout, the more calories you consume. In case you decide to practice a sport like boxing, running, or cycling that use the same set of muscles all the time, you should consider alternating low-intensity days with high-intensity days to give your muscles a break and allow them to fully recover.

Conclusion

No workout program is “ideal” for every individual, but the above-mentioned structure seems to work best for most people looking for a workout routine to lose weight and improve their general fitness. Whatever exercise you decide to practice regularly should also be combined with an appropriate diet to create a calorie deficit.

More Tips on Losing Weight

Featured photo credit: Julia Ballew via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Davide Alfonsi

Celebrity Coach, Author and Mindfulness expert

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Last Updated on August 4, 2020

8 Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle That Get You to Live With Less

8 Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle That Get You to Live With Less

Minimalism is a way to put a stop to the gluttony of the world around us. It’s the opposite of every advertisement we see plastered on the radio and TV. We live in a society that prides itself on the accumulation of stuff; we eat up consumerism, material possessions, clutter, debt, distractions and noise.

What we don’t seem to have is any meaning left in our world.

By adopting a minimalist lifestyle, you can throw out what you don’t need in order to focus on what you do need.

I know first hand how little we actually need to survive. I was fortunate enough to live in a van for four months while traveling throughout Australia. This experience taught me valuable lessons about what really matters and how little we really need all this stuff we surround ourselves with.

Less is more.

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Living a minimalist lifestyle is reducing.There are a few obvious benefits of minimalism such as less cleaning and stress, a more organized household and more money to be found, but there are also a few deep, life-changing benefits.

What we don’t usually realize is that when we reduce, we reduce a lot more than just stuff.

Consider just some of the benefits of living with fewer possessions:

1. Create Room for What’s Important

When we purge our junk drawers and closets we create space and peace. We lose that claustrophobic feeling and we can actually breathe again. Create the room to fill up our lives with meaning instead of stuff.

2. More Freedom

The accumulation of stuff is like an anchor, it ties us down. We are always terrified of losing all our ‘stuff’. Let it go and you will experience a freedom like never before: a freedom from greed, debt, obsession and overworking.

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3. Focus on Health and Hobbies

When you spend less time at Home Depot trying unsuccessfully to keep up with the Joneses, you create an opening to do the things you love, things that you never seem to have time for.

Everyone is always saying they don’t have enough time, but how many people really stop and look at what they are spending their time doing?

You could be enjoying a day with your kids, hitting up the gym, practicing yoga, reading a good book or traveling. Whatever it is that you love you could be doing, but instead you are stuck at Sears shopping for more stuff.

4. Less Focus on Material Possessions

All the stuff we surround ourselves with is merely a distraction, we are filling a void. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy comfort. After the initial comfort is satisfied, that’s where our obsession with money should end.

We are bombarded by the media presenting promises of happiness through materialistic measures. It’s no wonder we struggle everyday. Resist those urges. It’s an empty path, it won’t make you happy.

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It’s hard not to get roped into the consumerism trap. I need constant reminders that it’s a false sense of happiness. I enjoy stuff, but I also recognize that I don’t need it.

5. More Peace of Mind

When we cling onto material possessions we create stress because we are always afraid of losing these things. By simplifying your life you can lose your attachment to these things and ultimately create a calm, peaceful mind.

The less things you have to worry about, the more peace you have, and it’s as simple as that.

6. More Happiness

When de-cluttering your life, happiness naturally comes because you gravitate towards the things that matter most. You see clearly the false promises in all the clutter, it’s like a broken shield against life’s true essence.

You will also find happiness in being more efficient, you will find concentration by having refocused your priorities, you will find joy by enjoying slowing down.

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7. Less Fear of Failure

When you look at Buddhist monks, they have no fear, and they have no fear because they don’t have anything to lose.

In whatever you wish to pursue doing you can excel, if you aren’t plagued with the fear of losing all your worldly possessions. Obviously you need to take the appropriate steps to put a roof over your head, but also know that you have little to fear except fear itself.

8. More Confidence

The entire minimalist lifestyle promotes individuality and self reliance. This will make you more confident in your pursuit of happiness.

What’s Next? Go Minimalism.

If you’re ready to start living a minimalist lifestyle, these articles can help you to kickstart:

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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