Exercising for smart weight loss
Now that we have covered the diet elements we can move on to exercising for smart weight loss. Please note that the key word here is “smart”, not “exercise”. It is really important that we exercise in a way that sets us up for success, not failure.
Understand that anything is better than nothing
Some women I know actually talk themselves out of exercise because they think that, unless you do a solid hour, you are wasting your time. This is a grave mistake. When it comes to exercise it is vital that you understand that something is better than nothing. Think back to the above point about the mathematics of weight loss. If you can only get time for a 20 minute walk you are still going to burn off a can of Coke worth of calories. Sure, its not a 60 minute weights and rowing session at the gym, but it will help. Any exercise is better than no exercise.
High intensity is better than low intensity
I have talk about this lots of times here on the site but I need to rehash it here again for this guide to losing weight. High intensity exercise is always a better option than low intensity. Why?
- It burns more calories
A shorter session of intense exercise burns more calories during the session than a long slow workout. This means you are using your time effectively.
- It keeps your metabolism up
A high intensity bike ride, run or boxing class will keep your metabolism cranking for hours after the workout has finished. This means you will be burning calories even when the workout has finished. And that is a very valuable thing.
The downside about high intensity workouts is that your body can overdo it. If you workout at the gym five times a week and do hard stuff every time you are going to burn out in a few months. So, try to make your high intensity sessions fewer but more intense. For example, if you workout four times a week try to make two of them super intense and then leave the other two for slower weight training or a longer more relaxing jog. This will keep your body well rested and well worked.
Variety is the key to long term dedication
One thing I have noticed over the years is that the women who stick to their exercise programs use a lot of variety. They are loyal and dedicated to fitness as a whole, not to one particular form of exercise. Sure, there are those amazing women who can go to a yoga class every day for ten years but for the most of us we need to inject some variety into the routine in order to keep it exciting.
The good news is that in today’s fitness obsessed society there are so many different things to try. There is no way we will ever get bored. Some ideas include:
- The regulars like running on the treadmill, cross trainer or riding on the exercise bike
- Weight training or doing home workouts
- Kickboxing or some other martial art classes
- Going for hikes in the hills with friends
- Taking classes like yoga or pump or step
- Going for bike rides with the family
Variety is also important because it stops your body from getting stuck on a plateau. Fitness is all about pushing your body to a new level and then letting it adapt. The body always adapts so you have to keep pushing it to new levels. Changing your regular exercise routine is one way to do this.
Women must weight train
So many women still avoid weight training because they are worried about putting on muscle and looking like a bulky man. It is a myth that needs to be busted because it really isn’t true. Women simply do not have the chemical make up in their body to become really massive. In fact, the only thing that will happen with weight training is that your body will become leaner, tighter and more toned. You won’t get bigger. Weight training is really important because it burns a lot of calories while keeping your healthy and strong.
There are so many benefits to weight training and one of them is that you feel amazing after a workout because your body has released so many endorphins. Some things to remember:
- Learn the correct way
Get a trainer and learn how to lift weights correctly before you go out lifting like a crazy woman. These things can cause some pretty serious long term injuries if you don’t do it correctly. For this reason I always tell my friends to start off with the machines because they are designed to keep the movement safe and controlled. They will also help to teach you the proper form.
- Use free weights
Once you are proficient with the machines you should move onto the free weights exercises that use dumbbells, barbells and your own body weight. Why? Because these exercises are unbalanced and require that you use more muscles to keep stabilized. And more muscles means a more complete and intense workout.
- Keep it short
Don’t workout for two hours at a time. Mix your weights session with your cardio session and do some running on the treadmill followed by some jumping squats and pushups. It is wonderful if you can mix cardio and weight training together as you will really get your heart racing.
This blog has some pretty comprehensive articles about weight training and all the different exercises that are available to you. I recommend going back through them for some inspiration and then start adding weight training sessions to your workout at least twice a week for the rest of your life.
So how often do I need to exercise?
Here is where things get tricky. Finding the time to exercise is really hard and, unfortunately, studies show us that we need a fair amount in order to maintain our weight. In fact, a recent study revealed that you need about an hour of exercise everyday in order to keep the weight off. To be honest I find this a little difficult to believe. I would love to know some important details like: did they weight train, did they do high intensity workouts, how were their diets, did they exercise before breakfast, etc.
I do not believe that you need an hour a day, everyday, in order to lose weight and then maintain that weight. I think it depends heavily on how good your diet is and how well you exercise when you do actually do it. However, I do think you need at least four solid sessions per week. It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you do something significant like run, box, go to a yoga class, etc. Anything less than this amount and you will struggle to notice any changes.