What is the best exercise for weight loss is one of the questions that we’re asked most often by people serious about burning fat and getting in shape – so what is it?
Now, any form of physical activity that gets you moving and out of breath and sweaty will burn calories and help you to lose weight.
Gardening, dancing, playing with the kids in the park…they all qualify.
But if you want to get serious about burning lots of calories and losing significant amounts of weight then you need to get far more serious about your fitness program than that.
Before we get onto that, when we talk about losing weight we really mean losing body fat.
The weight that you lose when dieting is a combination of fat, muscle and water. Clearly, you want most of it to be fat.
You want to hang onto as much muscle tissue as possible, as it’s your muscle that’s responsible for most of the calories you burn each day.
In fact, you want to build muscle to burn body fat – the best exercise for weight loss is therefore one that burns body fat and builds muscle. More of that in a minute.
Top Exercises for Weight Loss
Now the conventional wisdom is that aerobic activity – slow, boring cardio – is the best exercise for weight loss as it causes your body to burn body fat as the fuel for that exercise.
Now this is correct, but there are far more effective ways to burn body fat than lots and lots of cardio.
Is Cardio the Best Exercise for Weight Loss…?
Is there anyone who hasn’t heard of aerobics? All the term aerobic means is ‘with oxygen’.
Aerobic exercise is often touted as the best exercise for weight loss – you know, things like walking, jogging, cycling…
Anything that causes you to move continuously for more than a few minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour or more.
So, why is aerobic activity viewed as the best way to burn fat, then?
Well, the theory goes that as fat burns in the presence of oxygen, low to moderate level cardio is the best way to get your body to burn fat. Basically because you don’t get too out of breath, breathe in lots of oxygen and can do it for a relatively long time.
The theory goes that your body won’t burn much fat for the first five, 10, 20 minutes or so of cardio – it will burn mostly carbs – as it needs to reach a steady state to burn fat.
In other words, start jogging slowly, keep jogging slowly and your body will start to burn more body fat to fuel the exercise. You’ll be in the ‘fat burning zone’.
Now, this is partly true – but is it the best exercise for weight loss?
How long do you think you’ll have to jog to burn lots of calories and a significant amount of body fat? Hours and hours!
Now I’m a busy person and have better things to do than jog or walk or cycle for hours to burn off a few hundred calories.
The simple fact is that it’s not how much fat you burn that’s important, it’s how many calories.
There are far better ways to burn loads of calories in a workout than slow, boring cardio in the ‘fat burning zone’!
More of that in a moment.
The Fitter you are, the More Calories you Burn
Another problem with cardio in the fat burning zone is that you won’t get much fitter doing it.
To improve your fitness, you need to constantly challenge your body so it responds and adapts…and you get fitter.
The fitter you are, the harder you can train and the more calories – and fat – you burn.
Just watch people in the gym on a treadmill. They jog along for hours and hours, workout after workout…and look the same six months later!
You will not lose lots of weight and burn loads of fat doing slow, boring cardio. Well, not very quickly anyway.
Now, the principle for improving your fitness is overload, adaption, progression:
Overload – cause your body to do a little bit more than it’s used to. Do this frequently and repeatedly and your body will
Adapt – it will respond to the stress of the exercise by increasing muscle mass, improving your blood’s oxygen carrying ability and so on. You can then
Progress – do a little bit more, in other words you get fitter
The goal of your exercise routine should be to burn lots of calories and build some muscle and improve your overall strength and fitness so you can burn more calories – and more fat.
Exercise increases your muscle mass, its density. The more muscle mass you have:
The more fat you can burn during exercise
The more calories you burn at rest as your resting metabolic rate will be higher – you burn fat whilst you sleep!
The faster you lose weight and burn body fat
Your heart will also get stronger and more efficient, it pumps more blood with each beat and therefore has to beat less at rest – your resting heart rate goes down.
Your lung capacity increases to enable your body to take in more oxygen.
Your body produces more red blood cells to carry more oxygen and nutrients around your body to the working muscles.
In short, as you get fitter, your body becomes a much more efficient fat burning machine – and what is the the best way to do this..?
So what is the Best Exercise for Weight Loss…?
Simple, it’s not one exercise, but the combination of exercises and the intensity that you train at that will burn fat and build muscle…and the answer is a combination of strength and interval training!
Ditch the hours of cardio. If you want to lose weight quickly and consistently and in workouts lasting less than an hour, no more than three times a week then check out our article on fat burning workouts.
Now, you can stick with long sessions of low intensity aerobic activity if you want – but here is a far better way to burn that belly fat quickly!