Whether you want to get ready for bikini season or improve your overall health, dropping your body-fat percentage is the way to do it. Your body fat percentage is a more accurate measure of fitness than weight or BMI. Lowering your it will not only help you look good -- and squeeze into those skinny jeans -- it will also improve your health by reducing your risk of serious medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. To do this, you'll need to add regular exercise, cardiovascular activity and weight training to your daily routine.
Choose a healthy goal that is realistic, and be patient. Understand that it takes time to reach an ideal and that you make need to set several small goals on your path to your dream figure. Draw inspiration from pictures and make the decision to be healthy, not skinny.
Set a schedule for working out. Make certain that your schedule is realistic and fits into your lifestyle. If you have to give up things or rearrange your life greatly to fit in exercise, chances are you will not stick to it. Plan your cardio and weight training on separate days to avoid burning out. Ideally, you should do three days of each. For example, do cardio on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and weight training on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Take Sunday off.
Choose workouts that will challenge you, but will not cause unnecessary strain on your body. While high-intensity workouts offer the fastest way to drop fat percentages, they can be dangerous if you are severely overweight. If your body-fat percentage is more than 30 percent, start with low-intensity workouts, such as walking and yoga, and build up the intensity gradually to avoid strain on your joints and organs, such as your knees and heart.
Cardio any time of the day is beneficial, but if you can, do cardio first thing in the morning before breakfast when glycogen stores are already depleted. Whenever you do your cardio, have a light, protein-rich snack, such as a protein shake or piece of fruit, first to fuel your activity. Choose an activity which will give you the appropriate level of intensity which you will also enjoy enough to want to continue. Try aerobics, spinning or dance for a high-intensity workout, and swimming, walking or yoga for a low-intensity workout. Schedule cardio sessions three times a week for 30 to 60 minutes per session.
Add weight training to your workout schedule. According to Bodybuilding.com, weight training boosts your metabolism and keeps it revved up for up to 39 hours after your workout. Choose a routine of no more than 45 minutes three times a week. Use weights that are heavy enough to be challenging but not so heavy that they quickly zap your energy. Using high numbers of repetitions and moderately heavy weights will increase your calorie burn. Alternate between upper-body and lower-body routines, three times per week.
- For best results, modify your diet by lowering your caloric and carbohydrate intake.
- Consult your physician before beginning any weight loss or exercise program.
- A certain percentage of body fat is necessary for survival and to be healthy. Do not allow your body fat to drop below 15 percent.
An American writer living in the United Kingdom, Christy Mitchinson began writing professionally in 2000, during her career in laboratory science, pathology and research. She has authored training materials, standard operating procedures and patient/clinician information leaflets. Mitchinson is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and creative writing with The Open University.