Your own body weight can actually help burn fat – kind of ironic. Resistance training is an often overlooked weight-loss strategy, and body weight exercises are the most basic type of resistance training out there. It’s great because you don’t need any expensive gym equipment to get started. Resistance training doesn’t burn fat the same way as aerobic exercise, which burns more calories per workout, but it does help promote longer-term weight loss and management.
How It All Works
Resistance training helps maintain existing muscle and build new muscle. This is important because muscle burns more calories than fat, so the more lean muscle you have on your body, the more calories your body will naturally burn. In a way, building muscle through resistance exercise turns your body into a calorie-burning machine. So, muscle is a good thing to have if you’re looking to lose a few pounds.
You can exercise your upper body using an assortment of body weight exercises. Pushups primarily work the chest muscles but also the triceps, biceps, deltoids and abs. By narrowing your hand positions during a pushup, you can target the triceps muscles even more. There are a variety of crunch variations to use for the abdominals and obliques, including exercise ball crunches, vertical leg crunches, bicycle crunches and bent-knee crunches. Target the back muscles by doing back extensions using an exercise ball or bench. Shoulder packing can tone your upper back and shoulder muscles; just squeeze your shoulder blades together for a two-count and repeat.
Lower-body weight-bearing exercise burns more calories than upper-body workouts. So, definitely don’t ignore your lower half when trying to burn fat. Some of the most beneficial lower-body body weight exercises include squats, lunges, side lunges, calf raises, jogging, jumps or skipping rope, running in place and reverse leg lifts for the butt and hamstrings. You can add some additional resistance to some of these exercises to challenge yourself – dumbbells, soup cans or gallon jugs work great.
The general recommendation for adults is two strength-training workouts per week, but three resistance workouts per week is even better. Make each workout session about 30 to 45 minutes. You can choose to do a full-body workout each time, or split upper- and lower-body days. Choose at least four or five exercises per workout and do three to four sets of each. Be sure to challenge yourself by doing as many reps as you can on at least one of the sets, also known as “going to failure.” This workout regimen will definitely help you maintain lean muscle and tighten up your trouble spots. Within four to six weeks, you should start to notice that putting on your pants isn’t an all-out wrestling match anymore!
Joseph Eitel has written for a variety of respected online publications since 2006 including the Developer Shed Network and Huddle.net. He has dedicated his life to researching and writing about diet, nutrition and exercise. Eitel's health blog, PromoteHealth.info, has become an authority in the healthy-living niche. He graduated with honors from Kellogg Community College in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science.