Best Exercises to Lose Weight and Improve Your Shape

Best exercises for weight loss health and wellness

The best exercise is ultimately going to be the one that you commit to. Sustained physical activity is not one size fits all. Different exercise routines and programs exist because from person to person, abilities, desires, and personal commitment vary. Often times, it’s the lack of motivation or not knowing where to start that ends up discouraging you.

Awareness is fundamental in the development of your personal goals and challenges. In order to create an environment for change, you must raise your awareness to the long-term adverse effects of excess weight and the importance of a lifestyle which includes regular exercise and a balanced diet.

The wellness experts at Foot Palace gathered the following information to educate and get you started in the right direction towards your weight management and health goals.

Recognizing Obesity and Its Staggering Implications

That extra weight you are carrying around could pose serious health risks down the road. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD), excess weight may increase the risk for many health problems, including:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
  • Heart Disease and Strokes
  • Certain Types of Cancer
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fatty Liver Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Pregnancy problems, such as high blood sugar during pregnancy, high blood pressure, and increased risk for cesarean delivery (C-section).

Obesity is a major health concern within nearly every community nationwide. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is the nation’s principal health statistics agency. In their most recent study, they found that 39.8% of US adults and 18.5% of youth are obese.

A person is considered obese when his or her weight is at least 20% over what it should be. Likewise, when a person’s BMI (Body Mass Index) reaches 30 or more, he or she is considered obese. Learn more from the CDC’s findings here:

How Much Do I Need to Exercise to Lose Weight?

The answer to this question is not centered on the amount of exercise you do. In order to lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit. Simply put, you have to burn more calories than you consume. When you create this environment for your body, you will begin to lose weight.

Cardiovascular (cardio) exercises at varied intensities will help you burn the most calories in a workout.

Engaging different muscle groups during your workouts through cross-training will help you avoid muscle or tendon injury and keep from creating wear patterns on your joints.

Be aware that it is much more difficult to burn off calories than it is to consume them.

Successful weight loss is not simply losing the weight. Success lies in keeping the weight off.

Once you develop a clear understanding of how your diet and exercise rely on each other, not only will you be more successful at losing the weight, you will be more likely to keep it off.

What Is The Best Cardio For Weight Loss?

The best cardio you can do for weight loss is the cardio that you choose to do. Whatever exercise you are comfortable with to get your heart rate up and sustain it is what you should do. Cardio is effective for improving your health if sustained for 20 – 30 minutes each day during a 5 day workout schedule. For weight loss however, that time should be increased to 50 – 60 minutes.

A few of the fun options for cardio include:

  • Swimming
  • Stair Climber
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Rowing

Remember that it is not so much the specific exercise, it is the length of time that the exercise is sustained which provides the desired results.

How Often Should You Work Out?

Engaging in high levels of physical activities for a minimum of 1 hour (including 30 minutes of cardio) 5 days per week is an excellent start to losing weight.

Your frequency in the gym or at home on the yoga mat is only one piece to the puzzle. When your exercise regimen is coupled with a low-fat and low-calorie diet, your success rate for meeting your weight loss goals will quickly increase.

What Are The 10 Best Exercises?

For each muscle group, there are specific exercises that are designed to challenge them. Some require the use of weights, some are accomplished on machines, and there are those that use the body’s own weight.

The following exercises are designed to target specific muscle groups, these include shoulders, upper arms, chest, back, abs, waist, hips, glutes, thighs, and hamstrings.

NOTE: Before beginning any exercise routine, you should perform a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio. Once the routine is finished, it should be followed by stretching and rehydration (drink water).

Shoulders – Machine Shoulder Press (Military Press) and Side Lateral Raise

The shoulder muscle group consists of the medial, anterior, and posterior. The posterior and anterior are frequently active during other exercise and movement. These exercises will target medial while working on the other two muscles.

Upper Arms – Triangle Push-up

The single most effective exercise for your upper arms (especially if you want to eliminate arm jiggle) is the triangle push-up. Similar to a traditional push-up, this can be performed on your knees or toes. It differs in that instead of aligning your hands beneath your shoulders, your hands form a triangle directly beneath your chest.

For beginners, performing the same exercise on an incline will work until you are able to support your full weight on the floor.

Chest – Push-up

While you may believe the bench press is the ultimate chest exercise, it cannot remotely compete with the push-up. A push-up utilizes nearly every muscle in the body and zeros in on the chest muscles.

Besides strengthening the core, push-ups will help prevent shoulder and back injuries. The intensity of a push-up can be increased by either elevating your feet or doing single leg push-ups.

Alternating between push-ups and bench press will offer variety while continuing to strengthen the chest.

Back – Pull-up, Chin-up, and Wide-Grip Pull-up

Pull-ups are excellent for exercising the entire back using your own weight or strapping on extra weight to increase the difficulty.

A regular pull-up is accomplished by placing your hands shoulder width apart on a bar, with your palms facing away from you. Pull your body weight up until your chin is over the bar and return to the beginning position.

A chin-up is practically the same as a pull-up but with your palms facing toward you.

The wide-grip pull-up increases the difficulty of a regular pull-up. It is accomplished by gripping the pull-up bar outside shoulder width, pulling yourself up until your chin is over the bar and returning to the beginning position.

If your legs swing as you perform this exercise, cross your legs to reduce the movement.

Abs – Hanging Leg or Knee Raise

There are so many ab exercises to choose from! The hanging leg (or knee) raise made our list because it utilizes your own weight to provide resistance, is easily shifted in intensity, and will strengthen your entire core.

Beginners can start by doing bent knee raises in the Roman chair, working up to straight leg raises, eventually moving to the hanging bar.

The ultimate objective is to accomplish reps of straight leg “toes-to-bar” raises.

Waist – Twisting Knee Lift

The quickest way to get your waist under control is to target the obliques. Your obliques are the ab muscles that wrap around your torso acting like a corset.

Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, then hold your arms up (as if in a defensive boxing position) and using your obliques, twist your upper body to the right and to the left keeping your hips and legs forward.

As you twist to the right for the second time, raise your right knee. Lower your right leg and twist left-right-left, raising your left knee on third twist.

The effectiveness of this exercise is heightened when combined with side crunches and twisting rollbacks.

Hips – Single-Leg Squat

The muscle in the hip (gluteus medius) is most challenged by single-leg squats. To accomplish this exercise, stretch both arms out in front of you, stand on one leg while slightly extending the other in front. Bend the supporting leg and squat as far as you can without allowing the raised leg to hit the floor, then return to the beginning position.

This exercise will also work to build leg strength and increase your balance.

Side leg raises and hip raises are less intense alternatives.

Glutes – Squats

While there are a ton of exercises with and without machines for the glutes, squats still remain the exercise which creates the most muscle activity in the gluteus maximus.

Maximum effectiveness is achieved when you squat past 90 degrees (the deeper the squat, the more muscle fibers are used).

When beginning squat reps, only go as low as is comfortable. Work your way lower as your confidence builds, eventually adding weights into the exercise.

Thighs – Plyometric Squat

For the thighs, there were three exercises that competed for this spot. The plyometric squat was chosen because of its repeated explosive muscle use.

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, squat down until your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Using the strength in your legs and glutes, jump up (explosively) and land back in the squat position.

When performing this exercise, keep your weight back over your heels and your landings should be soft (knees bent).

Hamstrings – Romanian Deadlift

Often misunderstood, the hamstring muscles work to extend the hips, bend the knees, and tilt the pelvis. Hamstring exercises take the hip from a flexed to extended position and bring the knee from and extended to a flexed position.

You would be hard pressed to find a better hamstring exercise. When performed correctly, it isolates and provides a tremendous workout for the hamstrings.

Start by standing upright with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a barbell with an overhand grip in front of your upper thighs, tighten your core and keep your knees slightly bent.

Now, keeping the natural arch in your lower back as you lean forward from your hips, pushing them in the opposite direction until your torso is parallel to the floor.

As you are lowering, keep your arms straight, sliding the bar down your thighs until it reaches your shins.

From the lower position, use your hamstrings and glutes to reverse the movement until you reach the beginning position.

Why Is It Important to Have A Rest Day?

Rest is equally as important as the work out. It is a fundamental part of the complete process required to build strength, endurance, and muscle.

This process is influenced by different factors, such as the intensity of your workout, the total volume of your weekly training, your experience, and your age. These factors all determine the amount of recovery time you’ll need.

Typically 48 to 72 hours are required between workouts (of specific muscle groups) for a full recovery. Understand that working out (especially resistance training) causes microscopic tears in muscle tissue. Rest days allow the muscles, and connective tissues time to mend.

Your sleep is the final point of our journey. The whole process culminates while you are asleep. Your body’s production of growth hormones increases which assists in the rebuilding and repairing of muscle tissue.

Remember that this all began with the awareness of a weight problem. Once you’ve created a calorie deficit and begun your exercise program, stick to it. As the results begin to show, be proud of yourself. You are one of the growing number of men and women taking charge of their situation.


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