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Last Updated on December 16, 2020

Your Ultimate Workout Routine to Lose Weight Effectively

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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.

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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

Online Weight Loss And Exercise Specialist

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Last Updated on October 4, 2021

5 Best Exercises for Weight Loss at Home

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5 Best Exercises for Weight Loss at Home

With the lines of work and home becoming increasingly blurry, it’s no wonder why we struggle to find the time to prioritize our health. Particularly with weight loss, it’s often difficult to manage the ever-present constraints around work, children, time to exercise, and the feeling of exhaustion at the end of the day.

Taking the effects of stress and the rise of remote work and work-from-home situations, we need to be far more tactical in our weight loss pursuits. Quite often, these exercises for weight loss at home aren’t even fitness-related.

Firstly, let’s look at a standard day in the life of a busy professional or parent to really understand the battlefield in which we need to operate.

We all have 24 hours in a day to work with. Knowing how we spend that 24 hours is crucial when learning where time will be best spent for our weight loss journey. Setting unrealistic expectations can be a quick way to end up back at square one.

  • Sleep: 8 hours (parents, if you’re lucky)
  • Work: 8 hours (sometimes more)
  • Children: 2 to 4 hours (includes pickups, drop-offs, and play)
  • Meal Preparation: 1 hour (at a minimum)
  • Household Activities: 1 to 2 hours (because someone’s got to do it, right?)
  • Total: 20 to 22 hours

Taking into account that switching between tasks takes time and cognitive space, we can start to understand why people just want to sit and scroll through social media at the end of a day. We also haven’t factored in the work commute if you have to report to the office.

Just realized you now have minimal time to yourself? This might start to explain why you struggle to gain momentum in your weight loss journey. Let’s work out how to take back the initiative:

  • Automate – Are there any tasks you can automate? If you’re fortunate enough to be gainfully employed, maybe it’s time to hire a cleaner or have ready-made meals delivered to your door. It doesn’t have to happen every night, but removing the decision of “what’s for dinner?” can be a great way to reduce stress and free up brain space and time.
  • Optimize – If you’re time-poor with kids, it’s time to optimize your activities. Turn screen time into playtime outdoors, and get them to join in on your activities. If your children are old enough, it might be time to start offering pocket money for chores and meal preparation. This strategy helped me stay fit as a single parent. By getting out and active with my son, I doubled my return on investment by staying fit and enhancing my relationship.
  • Eliminate – We’re only human. Sometimes, we simply have too much on our plate due to our high expectations. Take a look through your daily tasks and work out what can be removed.

Now, go through this exercise yourself. What potential spare time do you have to work with? If the answer is none, you might want to keep reading.

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Exercise Selection: It’s Not All About the Burn

No equipment? No problem.

So, we’re finally tracking the elements that matter. It’s time to start leveraging exercise to accelerate our weight loss journey. Alongside focusing on individual exercises that help with weight loss at home or caloric expenditure, we’re going to focus on another method to help keep you consistent and accountable for the long term: interest.

Interest has been linked as one of the key motivating factors to maintain consistency towards a goal. By choosing a form of exercise that your body and mind can enjoy, your chances of weight loss success are far greater.

Here’re the 5 best exercises for weight loss at home:

1. Low-Intensity Interval Training (LIIT)

Maybe the body isn’t what it used to be, and intense forms of training simply just aren’t safe anymore. Also considering the body’s response to stress, it might be in our very best interest to choose low-intensity activities that we can repeat daily.

Mobility and movement flows have risen in popularity in recent years. This form of exercise focuses on restoring range of motion (ROM), improving stability, and returning people to activity. Some exercise options include:

  • Quadruped Rocks
  • Frog Stretch
  • Hip Prying
  • Scapula Push-ups
  • Hindu push-ups

Below is a 10minute warm-up flow that shows you how to put all of this together:

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2. Yoga

Yoga is another perfect example of LIIT methodology that can be advanced as your ability improves. Focusing on mobility, stability, and range of movement using only your body weight, it’s a perfect entry-level activity for those that may have lost their way on their weight loss journey.

3. Calisthenics

Strength training at home can be difficult when you lack equipment or experience. An obvious path to building strength at home is calisthenics. Starting with just the following basic bodyweight movements:

You can begin your journey with no equipment and build to quite an advanced level. Here are five movements you can look to master over time are:

Depending on your ability, choose movements that allow you to progress safely over time. There is also gymnastics-based training you can move towards if your body is ready for a more demanding form of training.

4. Aerobic Exercise

Another underrepresented form of exercise, aerobic exercise is often overlooked for its sexier counterparts like strength and HIIT. With the prevalence of obesity nearly tripling between 1975 and 2016 and the major cause in adults being cardiovascular disease, it makes sense to focus on activities that improve cardiovascular or heart health.

Another benefit is that it can be as simple as getting your steps in, going for a swim, or going for an easy ride or run. Phil Maffetone pioneered the Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) Method that almost anyone can adopt regardless of fitness level and experience.[1]

Here’s a 30-minute session of aerobic exercises you can try:

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5. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-intensity interval training is a great way to elevate the heart rate and get the endorphins flowing. It can also be super time-effective, giving you a great bang for your buck. Try sequencing some of the movements and exercises above together with minimal rest to keep your heart rate elevated. Be sure to select movements that suit your current level of fitness and ability.

Here’s a HIIT workout that takes little time and is suited for any level:

Chipper 60

Complete all reps of every exercise for time. Exercises can be done in any order and repetitions to complete the workout.

If you can’t do jump squats, regress to normal squats, and don’t be afraid to change the leg raises to a 60-second plank if you need to. Finish up with some light stretching or foam rolling.

What Also Matters: Sleep, Stress, and Stimulants

Sleep, stress, and stimulants, also known as the hamster wheel of death. Tracking these elements gives us the power to finally stop relying on our ever-depleted stores of discipline and motivation to get the job done. It will also highlight the self-destructive habits that sabotage your weight loss journey.

Simply put, stress affects stimulants, sleep affects stress, and the vicious cycle continues.

Sleep

Are you getting enough sleep? It’s well documented that sleep is an important factor in weight loss and recovery.

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“Restricted sleep and poor sleep quality may lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, and an increased risk of obesity and other chronic health conditions.”[2]

Start this journey by tracking how much sleep you’re getting. Certain wearables can also track the amount of movement and time you spend awake or in lighter sleep cycles. Getting enough time in REM or deep sleep is critical for weight loss.

Stress

We don’t need to be fancy. A simple daily measurement out of ten indicates how much stress we think we are under. Using this number, we can observe the effects that sleep, stimulants, and exercise have on our stress levels, allowing us to deploy the right strategy for our weight loss goals.

Stimulants

Stimulants can be classified as anything we put in our mouths. Tracking calories, alcohol, and caffeine is a great way to observe, predict, and avoid trends or at-risk periods of overeating and destructive behaviors. Tracking this is aligned with how well we sleep, and our stress response gives us enough information to start forming better weight loss habits.

Work to identify the trigger, observe the response, and then look to adjust.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re fighting fit or returning to activity, the best exercises for weight loss at home are the ones that you can do day in day out that you enjoy. Think of exercise for weight loss as we do for compound interest. Consistently and regularly making deposits may not show immediately, but with time, they give you the momentum you need to reach your goals.

Featured photo credit: Olivia Bauso via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] PhilMaffetone: Maximum Aerobic Function
[2] SleepFoundation.org: Why is sleep so important to weight loss?

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