Skip menu to read main page content

Originally Published: Apr 02, 2020

The best exercises for weight loss

Americans today seem to believe that some form of cardiovascular activity such as walking, running, biking, or cycling will best arm them with the proper tools needed to start a successful weight loss and weight management program. However, there are far more superior modes of exercise that will increase the pace of weight loss, as well as the long-term management of those results. These modes of exercise include weight training, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), or boxing.

Engaging in a routine of cardiovascular activities, whether walking on a treadmill in a gym or jogging outside, will burn calories. On average, a person weighing 150 pounds walking moderately for 30-minutes burns 117 calories and almost doubles that with a moderate jog. “Trimming Off the Fat,” an ACE online article, states “Research shows that lower-intensity exercise uses a larger percentage of fat as fuel compared to higher-intensity exercise. However, it does not burn as many calories as higher-intensity exercise and consequently will not result in as much bodyweight or fat loss. So, while cardio does use fat for fuel, it does not consume as many calories as other forms of exercise.”

Muscle mass is directly related to weight gain.

Weight training, also known as resistant training, will yield far superior results for weight loss because of its ability to maintain or build lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass is what requires energy. A lack of muscle means our bodies require less energy and can be translated into fewer calories needed daily or a lower resting energy expenditure. An article in American Fitness, “Strength Training for Fat Loss,” written by Wayne L. Westcott and Rita La Rosa Loud reports, “Because resting metabolic rate is responsible for approximately 70% of calories burned each day by inactive individuals, a decrease in resting energy expenditure is associated with an increase in body fat.” Simply put, the lack of and loss of muscle are directly related to weight gain.

It is common knowledge that a large percentage of our population gains weight as it ages and typically has difficulty losing it. Why is this struggle so common? As we age and our bodies begin to break down, a loss of lean muscle mass is one of these biological processes no human being can avoid. However, being proactive, gaining knowledge, and adopting a healthy lifestyle can aid in maintaining and building muscle at any point in life.

Weight training maintains and builds lean muscle mass, a long-term benefit for any weight loss goal. There is also a short-term benefit related to weight training. Weight training not only burns calories while exercising but also continues to burn calories long afterward, unlike walking or running which only burns calories during exercise. Weight loss occurs with a deficit of calories; more calories must be burned than consumed. On average, a person weighing 150 pounds will burn between 105 and 210 calories during a 30-minute weight training session. The calories burned during weight and cardio training are relatively the same. The additional benefit of post-workout calorie burning and the potential for building lean muscle mass when doing weight training suggests it is a more rewarding form of exercise for weight loss and maintenance goals.

A different modality of exercise known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), first used in the early 20th century to train Olympic athletes, became more mainstream and popularized later that century. This mode of exercise incorporates short periods of high-intensity exercise (referred to as the work interval), followed by a segment of low intensity (referred to as the recovery interval). When compared to moderate steady-state cardio training such as walking, HIIT can burn significantly more calories in a shorter amount of time. HIIT may be a better choice of exercise for individuals who have weight loss goals and busy schedules. 

An alternative to weight training and HIIT is boxing. 

Boxing workouts are a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training and are broadly categorized as fitness boxing. A fitness boxing program designed specifically for weight loss can potentially burn hundreds of calories in as little as a 30-minute session, and up to 1,000 if that session extends into an hour.  The workouts implement real boxing movements and techniques.

Fitness boxing utilizes real boxing skills which involve an engaged core, the use of the upper and lower body, as well as continuous movement. This trifecta elevates and sustains the optimal calorie-burning effect, which leads to weight loss. The sessions generally include full-body resistance exercises: squats for the lower body and jabs/punches to a punching bag for the upper body. Much like weight lifting, the added resistant component in fitness boxing extends the calorie-burning effect long after a workout. This bonus creates a calorie-burning furnace which is a win-win for weight loss goaled individuals.

Many forms of physical activity recruit body fat for fuel and create calorie deficits. Cardio, weight training, HIIT, and fitness boxing are all modes of exercise that yield positive health benefits and can potentially lead to weight loss. Each of the four exercise modes burns unwanted calories in varying degrees. Weight training and fitness boxing, burn calories during and after workouts, as well as build lean muscle. Traditional cardio and HIIT burn calories explicitly during workouts, with HIIT burning significantly more per session.

Exercise and weight loss goals are most often derailed by time constraints as well as a lack of education on what types of exercise are the most efficient. HIIT and fitness boxing offer two solutions with short intense workouts that yield favorable weight loss results.

Whether seeking a healthier heart, gains in physical strength, or significant weight loss, there is an exercise option that can be best identified for each individual’s goal. Contrary to popular belief, when embarking on weight-loss specific goals, cardiovascular training, although beneficial, is not the most effective or efficient form of exercise.

If you’re looking for assistance in setting up a weight loss program, consider meeting with one of our health coaches or personal trainers.