For Weight Loss Exercise


Exercise plays such a big role in weight loss since it helps you to burn more calories and lose more pounds. When we don’t have time to hit the gym, there are other things that we can do at home, which can be even better than exercising in the gym. If you want to lose weight by exercise, here are some of the best for weight loss exercise you can try:

The Best Exercises for Losing Weight

woman celebrating after a good workout session

Including light exercise in your OPTIFAST plan can be highly beneficial. Not only is it good for both body and mind, and it’s a great stress reliever.

Regular physical activity or exercise helps enhance your weight loss diet, as well as keeping your body healthy.

Below are some of the best exercises for losing weight that can help to enhance your weight loss journey.


Walking is one of the best exercises for losing weight – and a great one to get started with. Walking is a convenient and cost-effective way for beginners to start exercising, without feeling overwhelmed or needing to purchase any equipment. It’s also great for beginners on a weight loss diet, as it puts minimal stress on your joints.

It’s easy to fit walking into your daily routine. You can add more steps to your day simply by going for a walk during your lunch break or taking the stairs at work, or leaving your car behind for short journeys and walking instead.

To get started, aim to walk for 20-30 minutes 3-4 times a week, then over time gradually increase the duration of your walks.


If you feel a bit more confident in your exercise plan, you can try going for a jog to lose weight. To get started, aim to jog or even run for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times per week, either indoors or outdoors.

woman jogging to improve fitness levels

If you find jogging outdoors is tough on your joints, softer surfaces such as grass, or indoors on a treadmill, will provide more built-in cushioning.


Cycling is another great exercise for beginners who are looking to lose weight. It’s non-weight bearing and low-impact, meaning it will place less stress on your joints.

If you have access to a bike, you can easily incorporate cycling into your daily routine by cycling to work or to the shops in the evening. If you don’t own a bike, most gyms have stationary bikes so you can cycle indoors.

A daily ride of 30 minutes a few times a week is a great starting point.


Swimming is brilliant for people looking to lose weight.

If you have access to a pool, swimming is a fun way to get regular exercise, as it puts less stress on your joints, while helping significantly reduce your body fat.


Yoga may not be commonly thought of as an exercise for weight loss, but experts do say it’s a great way to burn calories and reduce your stress levels.

woman doing yoga to improve fitness

Like swimming, yoga is also great for improving your flexibility and, the beauty of it is, you can practice it anywhere. Most gyms offer yoga classes, but with so many tutorials online, you can easily practice yoga from the comfort of your own home.

As well as helping you to lose weight, yoga can teach mindfulness, which can help you to better understand your body’s hunger signals, control overeating and avoid unhealthy food.

Weight Training

Out of all the exercise options available, weight training is one of the most popular among people trying to lose weight; just be careful that you don’t do too much, too soon.

A light workout using weights a few times each week not only helps you to lose weight, but helps improve upper body strength and promote muscle growth. This can raise your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which increases how many calories your body burns while resting and after your workout.

Find out more about how to improve your strength:

How to Lose Weight Fast with Exercise

exercise for weight loss in 7 days

The best exercise plan for weight loss has just two components: 

  1. Lots of weightlifting. 
  2. A moderate amount of cardio.

That’s it. 

You don’t want to do just any kind of weightlifting or cardio, though. Although high-rep curls on a Bosu ball and pump classes are better than nothing, you’ll likely be disappointed in the results.

When it comes to maximizing fat loss and minimizing muscle loss, one kind of weightlifting stands head and shoulders above the rest—heavy, compound strength training.

Additionally, the right kind (and amount) of cardio can amplify your results by helping you burn fat much faster. It also improves your health in myriad ways, and lets you eat slightly more while losing weight, thus making the process more enjoyable. 

If you go about cardio the wrong way, though—doing too much, at too high an intensity, or at the wrong times—it may do more harm than good.

Let’s break this down step-by-step, starting with the “king” of weight loss exercise—weightlifting.

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Do Lots of Heavy, Compound Strength Training

Many fitness “gurus” recommend that you use high reps and light weights when cutting to really “bring out muscle definition.” 

Psychologically, this kind of weightlifting also feels gratifying. You can literally feel your muscles burning, and this must be “burning” away some body fat, too, right? 

Unfortunately, no. 

While this kind of training is better than nothing, it’s not an efficient or effective way to burn fat or build muscle. In other words, you can spend hour after hour doing these kinds of workouts and still experience painfully slow progress (if any). 

The only way to increase muscle definition is to gain muscle and/or reduce your body fat percentage, and the fastest and most effective way to do this is to do lots of heavy, compound strength training. 

By “heavy,” I mean that you should work primarily with weights in the range of 75 to 85% of your one-rep max (1RM), which includes weights that you can do 6 to 10 reps with before reaching muscular failure. And most of the time, you should be taking your sets to the point where you feel you could only do one or two more reps before you have to stop (one to two reps short of muscular failure).

By “compound,” I mean that you should focus your efforts on exercises that train several major muscle groups at once, like the squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press. 

There are several reasons heavy, compound strength training is best for fat loss: 

  1. It helps build and preserve muscle mass, which makes it easier to lose weight and keep it off.
  2. It burns a lot of calories, which makes it easier to maintain a calorie deficit. 

First, when you’re in a calorie deficit, your body is “primed” for muscle loss, but strength training counteracts this effect by increasing muscle hypertrophy (even when you’re cutting). 

One salient example of the “muscle sparing” effect of strength training comes from a study conducted by scientists at West Virginia University, which found that overweight people eating just 800 calories per day were able to maintain all of their muscle mass thanks to heavy strength training.

Just lifting heavy weights isn’t enough, though—you also need to focus on increasing the weight you’re lifting over time. This process is known as progressive tension overload, and research shows it’s the primary driver of muscle growth. 

Read: Is Getting Stronger Really the Best Way to Gain Muscle? 

Second, although heavy strength training may not leave you in the same sweaty, heart-pounding, breathless mess as high-rep, low-weight workouts, it still burns about as many calories. This is mainly due to what’s known as the “afterburn effect,” which is the rise in metabolic rate that occurs between sets and after your workout as your body recovers.

Research shows that heavy strength training causes a much larger and more persistent rise in metabolic rate than high-rep, low-weight training. Compound exercises like the squat, bench press, and deadlift also produce a much higher spike in metabolic rate than “isolation” exercises like curls, crunches, and the like. 

The bottom line is that if you want to preserve as much muscle and burn as much fat as possible when you cut, you want to do a lot of heavy pushing, pulling, and squatting.

(And if you’d like specific advice about which training program you should follow to reach your health and fitness goals, take the Legion Strength Training Quiz, and in less than a minute, you’ll know the perfect strength training program for you. Click here to check it out.)

Do a Moderate Amount of Low-Impact Cardio

When it comes to weight loss, the main benefit of cardio is that it burns a lot of calories.  

It also offers many health and fitness benefits, including better metabolic health, more stamina, and possibly even faster post-workout recovery.

While many contrarian weight loss “experts” claim that cardio actually doesn’t burn many calories, science tells a different story. 

For example, bicycling at a moderate pace (about 12 miles per hour) burns about 700 calories per hour. To burn that many calories lifting weights, you’d have to do 28 sets of heavy, compound exercises, which is not only impractical but also unsafe. Even if you could make it through this workout (unlikely), it would take almost two hours to complete.

Thus, cardio is a much more time-efficient way to burn calories than weightlifting. And since weight loss (and fat loss) largely boils down to calories in versus calories out, cardio forms an important part of the best exercise plan for weight loss. 

What kind of cardio should you do, though, and how much? 

You can broadly divide cardio into two categories:   

  1. High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves alternating between intervals of short, maximal efforts and brief recovery periods.
  2. Steady-state cardio, which involves doing cardio continuously at an easy to moderate intensity. 

While I used to beat the drum exclusively for HIIT, I’ve since changed my tune. 

This was because I used to recommend that people do just enough cardio to achieve their body composition goals and no more. Since HIIT burns more calories per minute than steady-state cardio, it seemed like the better option, and this minimalist approach toward cardio worked well for myself and many others. 

I was also excited about evidence suggesting that HIIT was inherently better for fat loss than steady-state cardio.

As research on the topic has advanced, though, we now have a better understanding of the true benefits of HIIT.

On the one hand, research clearly shows that you burn up to three to four times more calories per minute than steady-state cardio, depending on how hard you push yourself. Go HIIT. 

On the other hand, research also shows that HIIT doesn’t have any magical fat-melting properties or other fat loss advantages, and that it has a few other important disadvantages compared to steady-state cardio. Boo, HIIT.

Namely, you can only do so much HIIT every week, because it causes more fatigue, muscle damage, and wear and tear on the body (and especially high-impact stuff like running sprints). This is why research shows that it tends to interfere with strength training more than steady-state cardio.

And since you can only do relatively small amounts of HIIT, the absolute number of calories you can burn per week is less substantial than many people realize. 

For example, a study conducted by scientists at Colorado State University found that a 20-minute HIIT workout (4 x 30 s intervals w/ 4 min rest) burned an average of 226 extra calories over the course of the day (that’s both during the workout and from the “afterburn effect” over the following hours). 

Another team of scientists at the University of Sydney published a meta-analysis on the effect of HIIT and steady-state cardio on fat loss, and found “no evidence to support the superiority of either high-intensity interval training or steady-state cardio for body fat reduction.” 

In other words, both HIIT and steady-state cardio equally effective for fat loss over the long-term—it didn’t matter how people burned calories through exercise, only how many.  

This is why my go-to cardio recommendation for weight loss is walking, not HIIT. 

In fact, walking is better than many weightlifters realize, because it’s easy on the joints, causes little to no fatigue, and burns more calories than most people assume—about 200 to 400 per hour depending on your bodyweight and pace—and most of these calories come from body fat.

The downside of walking is you still have to do a fair amount to burn many calories, and it doesn’t offer all of the same health benefits as moderate- or high-intensity cardio. Thus, if you want to up the intensity of your cardio workouts, here’s how to do so properly: 

  • Limit these types of cardio workouts to no more than 50% of the time you spend weightlifting. If you lift weights for five hours per week, don’t do over two and a half hours of moderate- or high-intensity cardio per week.
  • Limit your cardio workouts to no more than thirty to forty-five minutes per session.
  • Do your cardio and weightlifting on separate days if possible, and if you have to do them on the same day, try to separate them by at least six hours to minimize the cardio’s “interference effect” on your weightlifting.
  • When lifting weights and doing cardio on the same day, try to schedule moderate- and high-intensity cardio workouts on days with upper-body training, and low-intensity cardio workouts on lower-body days. Additionally, do your cardio after your weightlifting, not before. This too will minimize the degree to which your cardio can interfere with your weightlifting.
  • Choose low-impact types of cardio such as cycling, rowing, elliptical, and swimming over high-impact options like running or plyometrics. This will minimize muscle damage and soreness.
  • Keep high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to a minimum and stick mostly to steady-state cardio.

Do that in combination with lots of heavy, compound strength training, eat properly, and you’ll soon have a body you can be proud of. 

Why exercise won’t make you lose weight

Taking a daily multivitamin may slow cognitive aging in older adultsCNN — 

There’s no shortage of things people swore to leave behind in 2018: bad jobs, bad relationships, bad habits. But chances are, you’re beginning 2019 with something you didn’t intend: a few extra pounds.

Every January, one of the top New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. And if you’re looking to be successful, there’s something you should know: Diet is far more important than exercise – by a long shot.

“It couldn’t be more true,” nutritionist and CNN contributor Lisa Drayer said. “Basically, what I always tell people is, what you omit from your diet is so much more important than how much you exercise.”

Think of it like this: All of your “calories in” come from the food you eat and the beverages you drink, but only a portion of your “calories out” are lost through exercise.

According to Alexxai Kravitz, an investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases – part of the National Institutes of Health, “it’s generally accepted that there are three main components to energy expenditure”:

  • Basal metabolic rate, the amount of energy it takes just to keep your body running (blood pumping, lungs breathing, brain functioning)
  • Breaking down food, scientifically referred to as “diet-induced thermogenesis,” “specific dynamic action” or the “thermic effect of food”
  • Physical activity

For most people, basal metabolic rate accounts for 60% to 80% of total energy expenditure, Kravitz said. He cited a study that defines this as “the minimal rate of energy expenditure compatible with life.” As you get older, your rate goes down, but increasing your muscle mass makes it go up.

About 10% of your calories are burned digesting the food you eat, which means roughly 10% to 30% are lost through physical activity.

Where fat goes when you lose weight

“An important distinction here is that this number includes all physical activity: walking around, typing, fidgeting and formal exercise,” Kravitz said. “So if the total energy expenditure from physical activity is 10% to 30%, exercise is a subset of that number.

“The average person – professional athletes excluded – burns 5% to 15% of their daily calories through exercise,” he said. “It’s not nothing, but it’s not nearly equal to food intake, which accounts for 100% of the energy intake of the body.”

What’s more, as anyone who’s worked out a day in their life can tell you, exercising ramps up appetite – and that can sabotage even the best of intentions.



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