If you are serious about losing weight, but don’t know where to start, the best way to begin is with a good pair of shoes and at least 30 minutes of open time. For the individual looking to shed some extra pounds, it’s important first to know what kind of pounds will be shed. Keep in mind that a pound of fat tissue and a pound of muscle tissue differ in size and density. Fat tends to take up more space, whereas muscle is more compact and a little heavier. Therefore, it is very possible to lose fat weight and appear smaller, but gain more weight in terms of muscle and appear more tight and toned. In any exercise program, it’s crucial that multiple measures are taken to keep the entire body healthy and fit. An appropriate and effective workout plan will include strength training, endurance training/cardio, and flexibility practice or stretching.
The first workout most people, especially women, resort to is walking the treadmill or climbing on the elliptical. The good news is that both are wonderful for cardio and when used correctly, they help melt fat. The bad news is that many people tend to get used to their workouts, do the same thing daily, and don’t see the results they expect. The body’s ability to adapt and excel is incredible and should be treated as such. If losing fat is the ultimate goal, at least 30 minutes of medium effort cardio in the form of aerobics (swimming, fast walking, light jogging, trampoline bouncing) should be performed 4-5 days per week minimum. For the beginner, this may be difficult for the first two weeks or so, but with effort and commitment, the following week will become easier and the workout intensity should be increased slightly as progressions allow. Keeping a heart rate monitor handy is very useful in the beginning stages, and staying between the range of 60%-70% maximum heart rate will yield the best results, however, if it is difficult to have normal conversation at this pace, take things down a notch.
Strength training is often avoided by those wanting to lose weight, because as mentioned before, muscle weighs more than fat, and too many people are intimidated by the look of muscles and fear becoming too “bulky”. Fortunately, anaerobic training, which involves much more intensity than aerobic training, also requires more energy, thus promoting weight loss when performed correctly. Initially, as the body has not adapted to this sort of training, fatigue is inevitable but DO NOT mistake this for a weakness! With time, strength training, which can include lifting weights, bodyweight exercises, and even sprinting and bursts of jumping among many other activities will actually boost energy levels so even doing cardio will soon come more easily.
Stretching is absolutely imperative to anyone and everyone, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. Simply giving the body a decent stretch after working out or in between sets in strength training will help the muscles to recover and cooperate throughout the next session of working out and during relaxation periods. Without practicing flexibility, the muscles become tighter and won’t have the full range of motion required by many activities, which are not limited to those in the gym.
Incorporating all three of these principles of exercise into a fitness regimen will allow the individual to lose fat weight, increase lean muscle and feel stronger and healthier before, during, and after exercise. Again, this can be altered to meet needs and to encourage development and progress as necessary. Never neglect any aspect of exercise, as all are equally important and rely on one another to promote wholesomeness. Different goals will require different ratios of each exercise, but in the end, all are directly responsible for results.