Whether you want to lose five pounds or 50 pounds, there’s one big question you’ve probably asked yourself: exactly which workout is the best for dropping weight? Is it strength training or cardio? Zumba dancing or Pilates?
Perhaps the answer is simpler– and less definitive– than you think.
So Which One Is It?
Here’s the simple answer for which workout is best for losing weight: it’s the one that burns the most calories, most efficiently, says Michele Olson, PhD, professor of exercise science at Auburn University Montgomery.
For a more direct answer comparing the different types of workouts, cardio is at the top when it comes to killing calories. Including interval-style workouts (switching between short bursts of maximum intensity effort followed immediately by brief periods of active recovery) with your cardio produces an ‘after burn’ effect post-exercise. This means your body consumes even more calories than it does doing simple cardio, because your metabolic rate remains high for hours after your workout– even burning extra calories when you’re relaxing on the couch awhile later.
“Any time you elevate your heart rate into the top end of your target zone, the extra fuel (aka calories) you burn up continues in order to bring your heart rate and muscle activity back to normal and to metabolize the lactic acid you have created,” Olson explains best.
Push Yourself– But Not Too Much
Don’t overdo it, though: too much high intensity cardio mixed with interval-style workouts can burn out your body and leave you too tired to continue your gut-busting workout. Instead, alternate two or three days per week of high intensity interval workouts with slower, more endurance-based sessions.
Also, it is crucial that you focus on building metabolically-active muscle mass so your body gets shape and toning as you continue to shrink on the scales. It becomes easier to accomplish this when you make fitness fun– switch out the treadmill and try a dance class, so your body doesn’t get used to your workout and make your progress stall.
Switch It Up
Lastly, if you want to optimize your time at the gym to its full potential, try workouts that include aspects of cardio and strength training, such as kettlebell training, for example.
That doesn’t mean you have to throw out the yoga class you love while on your road to weight loss, though; active-style Pilates classes, for example, keep your heart rate elevated enough to qualify as the occasional cardio session. So have fun with it!
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.
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