To transform your body, to get fit, to be healthy and to feel great you gotta exercise. Just like the air you breathe, your body needs physical exercise. And it needs exercise in a way that is so far-reaching that scientists are only just starting to unravel some of the amazing effects exercise has on our bodies. Did you know, that exercise can actually reprogram your DNA? And while you may think that by not doing exercise you’re not doing any harm, lack of exercise itself can alter your DNA – but unfavourably!Putting aside all the complicated, scientific reasons to exercise, exercise offers benefits that dieting just can’t. Exercise allows you to boost your metabolism and turn your body into a fat blasting furnace. Exercise builds muscle in the places you want, improves body shape and gives you a firm, toned body. Dieting, on the other hand, doesn’t promise a firm body – you can lose weight dieting and still be jiggly! And of course, in conjunction with diet, exercise speeds up the whole weight loss process, and who doesn’t want that?
This workout plan is between 4 and 12 weeks long, depending on how much weight you want to lose. Follow this workout plan and practice healthy eating and portion control, which means eating the right food in the right quantities at the right times, and you’ll be able to burn off at least a pound or two of body fat each week. But remember, you’ll also be doing resistance training to gain muscle in all the right places, so you’ll want to keep track of your progress with body measurements and, if you can, body fat percentage.
This weight loss workout plan consists of both cardiovascular exercise and resistance training. The name of the game is to blitz fat, which means to burn as many calories as you can. Cardiovascular exercise burns a lot of calories, as such this weight loss workout plan is centred around cardio. And to really blitz the fat, you’ll be doing two types of cardio, steady-steate cardio and interval training.
Steady-state cardio (referred to as simply “cardio” on the weight loss plan below) means you’ll be exercising (e.g. power walking, jogging, running, cycling) at about the same level of intensity for the duration of the workout. Steady-state cardio workouts tend to be longer. Cardiovascular interval training (IT) and high intensity interval training (HIIT), on the other hand, are a shorter workout, but alternate between higher levels of intensity and recovery intervals. Interval training is a proven technique to massively boost metabolism and torch body fat. HIIT (short bursts of all out exercise e.g. sprinting) is a more intense form of interval training, so beginners should start with regular interval training.
You can do any type of cardiovascular exercise, just make sure it’s something you like – or if you have no particular preference just stay away from those actives you know you do not enjoy. Cardio is an integral part of this weight loss workout plan and it is important that you like what you are doing in order to stick with it, not just for the duration of this program, but also afterwards. You can do your cardio workouts outdoors or on cardiovascular machinery indoors. If you are carrying a lot of weight, it’s best to start with low impact exercise such as walking, swimming or using the elliptical machine. If you have access to an elliptical machine/ cross-trainer, give it a try. I love this piece of cardio equipment, as it allows you to burn as many calories as jogging/ running, but is low-impact. Exercising on the elliptical also “feels” much easier than jogging/ running, allowing you to exercise for longer and burn more calories.
This workout plan has a lot of variety and gets progressively harder. Why? Not just to make you stronger and more fit, but to make sure you keep losing weight. When you do a workout over and over again, it eventually gets easier, which means your body doesn’t have to work as hard and therefore burns fewer calories. So your motto is always better. Every week you want to be better than the previous week.
WEIGHT LOSS WORKOUT PLAN: RESISTANCE EXERCISE
The other part of this plan is resistance exercise. This is important because it’s the part that focuses on building muscle. During weight loss, not all the weight lost is fat, some of it is muscle. Resistance training will ensure that you avoid the loss of muscle that usually occurs and will actually help you build muscle. You’ll be doing 3 resistance workouts per week:
- Core (abs and back)
- Upper body (arms & shoulders)
- Total body workout
As you get more advanced, these workouts will be followed by a short cardio workout, for maximum fat burning.
In terms of equipment, you only need the bare necessities: a stability ball, a resistance band, and two pairs of dumbbells. A pair of light dumbbells (5-10lbs) and a pair of heavier ones (10-20lbs). Each workout only takes about 30 minutes.
FITNESS LEVEL: BEGINNER TO ADVANCED WORKOUT PLANS
There is a plan for beginners and for more advanced exercisers. If you haven’t exercised for a long time start with the beginner weight loss workout plan. If you have been exercising regularly for the last few months several times a week and been increasing your fitness levels, try the more advanced weight loss program.
If in doubt, start at a lower level. You can always skip ahead if you feel it is too easy or switch to a more difficult plan. The great thing is that all of the plans burn calories and all of the plans require commitment. As long as you give it your best at every workout (and watch your calorie intake!), you will make progress, will burn calories, will drop the pounds and will get stronger.
- Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have a medical condition.
- Don’t forget to warm-up for 5 – 10 minutes before you start your workout and to cool-down. Stretch after your workout.
Here are the workouts:
- Total body workout
- Upper body workout (arm & shoulders)
- Core workout (abs and back)
- Beginner weight loss workout plan (this page – see immediately below)
- Intermediate weight loss workout plan
- Advanced weight loss workout plan
- How hard you should exercise
Note: IT = interval training, HIIT = high intensity interval training
WORKOUT PLAN: BEGINNERS
PROGRESS & PATIENCE: PUSH, BUT DON’T SHOVE
The aim of this plan is to lose weight, get in shape and improve health. After all, weight loss, without health, matters little. In fact, almost all things without health, matter little. So the goal is not just to lose weight, but to do it healthily. That means you need to listen to your body. While you need to give each workout your best effort, you also need to make sure that you don’t overdo it. The whole point of this plan is that it gives you time to improve. Every week the weight loss workouts get harder, which means you’re getting more fit and you’re burning more calories. With every workout your body becomes stronger – your heart, lungs, joints, muscles, tendons, and bones become stronger. But it is a gradual process, and you need to give your body time. Maybe you wanted to reach your goal in 4 weeks, but your body needs 6. What you want and what your body will do are not necessarily the same. So push yourself, but don’t shove.
This workout plan is just a guide. If you feel it is too easy, by all means skip ahead, or try a more advanced level. If you are struggling to keep up, just repeat last week’s workout another week, take an extra day off or lower the intensity at which you are exercising – the options are endless. Some weeks it may seem too easy, while other weeks you just seem stuck. Don’t despair. Just know that while it seems nothing is happening, there are a lot of improvements going on in your body you cannot see. Not all improvements are visible. So be patient and stick with it. Going slow, is better than not going at all!
This weight loss workout plan is 12 weeks long, but depending on how much weight you want to lose, you may want a shorter plan. No problem! Just continue for as long as you need to reach your weight loss goal. But remember, irrespective of how long you decide to follow the exercise program, once you have achieved your goal, you should still continue to exercise regularly, in order to maintain your new body weight, to maintain a good level of fitness and to improve health.
How hard should you exercise?
- The best way to monitor exercise intensity (how hard you’re exercising) is by wearing a heart rate monitor. If you are intermediate or advanced aim for a heart rate of about 70 – 80% of maximum (see heart rate calculator). Read more about heart rate and heart rate exercise zones. If you are a beginner, don’t worry too much about heart rate. Exercise at pace and intensity that slightly harder than comfortable (see RPE below). As your fitness levels improve you’ll be able to exercise at higher intensities and for longer.
- Another method of monitoring how hard you’re exercising by using the rating or perceived exertion (RPE) scale. The RPE Scale is a subjective measure of exercise intensity levels and uses a scale of 1 – 10. If you are a beginner aim to exercise at around level 5 or 6 RPE, and if you are more fit RPE 7/8 .
- As you do your workouts, your fitness levels will continually improve. This means to keep the workouts challenging, you need to continually increase the difficulty of your workouts. The exception to this is during the first two weeks and during weeks when your cardio workouts become longer (e.g. going from 30 minutes one week to 40 minutes the next week). You can increase difficulty by walking/ jogging faster or on a steeper incline. If you are using equipment in the gym you can increase the level, resistance or incline at which your are exercising.
WORKOUT PLAN: ADVANCED