I hear it from friends. My wife gets the question from coworkers.
“Hey! You look great! What are you doing?? What’s your exercise secret?”
The truth is, there is no secret.
And there is no one best exercise for weight loss.
What works for me may not be best for you. This is not a case of one size fits all.
There is, however, an approach that will help you quickly reach your weight loss goals.
The Worst Exercise for Weight Loss
Let’s start with the easy part.
What’s the worst exercise for losing weight?
Answer: the exercise you won’t do.
It may be an excellent exercise. It may also be one that friends of yours are using successfully.
However, if you don’t enjoy it and won’t keep doing it, then it’s your worst weight loss exercise.
Related to this would be a gym membership that you’re not using.
Maybe you know from past experience that you find going to the gym a hassle. Even worse, maybe don’t enjoy the atmosphere once you get there. If that describes you, then don’t buy a gym membership and swear to yourself that this time it will be different.
There is another “worst” exercise to avoid.
That is an exercise that leads to injury.
For instance, if you’ve tried running before but kept coming down with an injury that kept you from running, then choose an exercise that will be easier on your body.
Best Exercise for Weight Loss
Now it’s easy to see what would be YOUR best exercise for weight loss.
You want to find an exercise or some strenuous activity that you enjoy doing and that you’ll be willing to do even on those “down” days.
If you can’t think of any other activity, then choose walking.
Walking is easy, it doesn’t require any special equipment to get started, and you’ll start seeing benefits quickly.
With any exercise program, it’s a good idea to start out slowly and gradually build up.
You’ll know when you’re feeling strong and want more of a challenge. That’s the time to add more intensity into your workouts.
More Challenge – Try HIIT
Maybe you’re ready for a more challenging workout but don’t know what to do.
Try this workout of five bodyweight exercises.
- Bodyweight Squats – 2 sets
- Pushups or Kneeling Pushups – 2 sets
- Hip Extensions – 2 sets
- Plank – 2 sets
- Jumping Jacks – 2 sets
You can (and should) turn this into an HIIT workout by doing each exercise for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest and recovery.
During the 20 seconds of work do as many repetitions as you can. Go fast, but always maintain good form.
This workout will take you only 10 minutes using the 20 / 10 system. It’s short, but you will see results.
You can do this workout 2 or 3 times a week.
I’ve written an article about why an HIIT workout like this is the best exercise to burn fat.
5 Tricks for Staying Motivated
Now that you’ve started, the important thing is to keep going.
You will experience ups and downs. Here are five super simple tricks to keep you moving in the right direction.
Trick 1 – Set a Goal
Setting a goal is good advice for most projects.
How much weight do you want to lose?
Write it down. Put that piece of paper in a place where you’ll be sure to see it every day.
Trick 2 – Set a Deadline
Now decide how quickly you want to meet your new goal.
Be reasonable. But challenge yourself.
It’s usually possible to lose 1 – 2 pounds a week.
If you’re trying a crash diet, then you may be able to lose weight more quickly. However, crash diets are seldom successful. You may lose the weight but you’ll surely put it all back on.
Trick 3 – Make a Schedule
It’s not enough to say you’ll go out for a 30 minute walk three times this week.
Make it more real. Write it down on your calendar. Add it to your to do list for that day.
For example, decide that you’ll go for a 30 minute walk on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 5:30 pm after you get home from work.
Now you have something concrete and you’ll be less likely to forget about it.
While were talking about schedule, it’s important to not over train.
If you’re starting out with walking, then you can probably do a 30 minute walk every day.
However, more intense workouts should only be done 2 – 4 times per week.
Trick 4 – Get a Partner
Your best partner will be one that you can workout with on a regular basis.
You’ll probably find it easier to keep up your exercise routine since you won’t want to let your partner down.
If you can’t find an exercise partner, then get an accountability partner.
Your accountability partner is someone that you will talk to regularly. You’ll tell her what exercises you did during the week.
Your accountability partner must be someone who will not be afraid to tell you that you’re not working hard enough.
Also, she has to be someone that you respect and you’ll be willing to listen to and take her advice.
Trick 5 – Keep a Record
There’s nothing like a written record to keep your motivation high.
You’ll see what progress you’ve made week by week.
Every day write down your weight and what exercises you did. It’s also a good idea to record how you felt at the end of your workout.
You’ll soon get a feel for which weight fluctuations are normal for you and which ones may signal that you’ve been slacking off some.
A Common Pitfall
So far in this article I’ve only talked about the best exercise for weight loss.
However, don’t neglect the nutrition aspect of weight loss.
Don’t make the common mistake of thinking that since you’re doing some exercise each week you can now eat lots of desserts. 🙂
You’ll find that you’ll lose weight quickly if you can cut back on the number of calories you eat each day.
We’re not talking about a starvation diet. That will never work.
However, it should be fairly easy to change some of your eating habits. For example, try starting each meal with a healthy green salad and having a piece of fruit for an afternoon snack.
Your best exercise for weight loss is the plan that you develop that works for you.
Just be aware, there will be times when you stumble.
We all run into situations where our eating gets away from us.
The next day you’ll likely feel guilty and think that all is lost.
Granted, yesterday is gone and we can’t change it.
However, today is a new day and you can always make a fresh start.
If you do that I’m sure that you’ll find you have many more good days than bad days. Slowly and surely you’ll see the pounds come off and you’ll reach your weight loss goal.
Photo Credits Flickr: angusf one size fits all
Flickr at the gym
courtneyrian to do list
Flickr weight loss chart