Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Favorite Fat Loss Exercises

As promised, here are my three favorite exercises for fat loss.

Before going into too much detail, from my previous post, it should be obvious that in order to lose body fat, one must create a calorie deficit. So, instead of listing the best exercises for fat loss, I will list exercises, which burn the most amount of calories.

1. Running

If done correctly running is by far the best exercise to burn the maximum amount of calories in the shortest amount of time. In addition, it's inexpensive and requires no additional equipment other than a good pair of running shoes and some basic attire. The hype about running being dangerous is just pure nonsense. However, this only applies if running is done correctly. Wearing improper/worn-out running shoes, form imperfections, doing more than your body can handle, and other issues will most likely lead to injury. So, take some time, learn the basics of running, and you're off.

Why is running so efficient for burning calories? One of the biggest reason is that while one burns lots of calories during the activity, running also makes people burn calories after. It is a high-impact activity and there is definitely tissue damage taking place (nothing to be too concerned about, if done properly). Therefore, right after running, the body uses much energy to repair all those tissues and prep you for running session #2. Also, running not only involves the legs, but also the upper body. This results in more blood circulation, which results in a faster heart rate. This also plays an incremental role in increased calorie expenditure.

2. Cycling/Spinning

Contrary to running cycling is a very low-impact activity. An ordinary person may not be able to run for 90 minutes nonstop, but they may very well be able to cycle for 90 minutes. More minutes translate to more calories. While easy pace cycling on a flat road doesn't burn as much calories as running, it oftentimes can be a more enjoyable form of exercise. Ideally, the heart rate stays slightly lower while cycling simply because the upper body doesn't do much. Friends may decide to have a 3-hour leisurely ride on a Saturday afternoon or just head to the store located about 20 miles away to buy some basic groceries. Point being, cycling doesn't have to be considered an exercise, rather a hobby, which burns calories on the side.

Spinning, typically done in increments of 45-60 minutes, burns much more calories than leisurely cycling. The fact that most spin classes integrate intervals, simulate climbing, and also recovery translates to increased calorie expenditures. Hill climbing on a bicycle is also a great way of burning increased amount of calories. However, hill climbing (depending on the grade) is much more strenuous and may not be suitable for those who are just beginning. On contrary, most spin classes allow you to go at your own pace, set your own intensity and resistance, therefore, the experience is customized to your liking.

3. Weight Training

I do realize that "weight training" is quite vague, but point being, it is, or at least should be an important part of any one's fat loss plan. Weight training in itself doesn't burn a lot of calories, at least not when compared to running and cycling. However, weight training is essential for increased metabolism. Muscle is a metabolic tissue (as opposed to fat). The more muscle one has, the more calories they burn at rest. If doing cardio is the primary source of calorie expenditure, then muscle is bound to be lost triggering a decrease in metabolism. Weight training helps preserve those muscles and thus keep the metabolism at a constant level.

So, how many calories???
These numbers are based on one of my clients' fitness GPS (with HR monitor) readouts. I'll call him Mark, even though that's not his real name. Here are Mark's statistics:

Height: 5'7"
Weight: 186

  • One hour of easy running (heart rate between 135-145) yields approximately 720 calories.
  • One hour of medium intensity running (heart rate between 145-155) yields approximately 890 calories.
  • 30 minutes of high intensity running yields about 550 calories
  • One hour of easy cycling = 520 calories
  • One hour of medium intensity cycling = 750 calories
  • 30 minutes of climbing (6% grade) = 500 calories
  • One hour spin class = 920 calories
  • One hour full body weight training = 300 calories (approx)


James said...

There are lots of exercises that help in weight loss. There are jogging, pilates, yoga, tai chi, etc that help not only in losing weight but also in the development of mind.

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