If you are sticking to only one or two of the many machines at the gym, you are missing out on a weight-loss opportunity. Achieve that fit and trim body you've always wanted by using a variety of machines to not only help you lose weight, but also target specific muscle groups and improve your cardiovascular endurance. Take advantage of the variety of gym machines to create a workout routine that won't bore you to sleep while you lose weight.
Circuit training will give you a good tour of the gym. A circuit workout moves you from machine to machine in rapid succession. You'll work up a sweat burning calories and strengthening your muscles at the same time. Start with a warm-up and stretching to prepare your muscles for your workout. Do one to two minutes of brisk walking or jogging on the treadmill. Rest for 30 seconds and move to the elliptical machine for two minutes. Pedal away the weight on a stationary bicycle for another minute before resting and climbing your way to fitness on a stair-stepper. Don't forget the leg press, rowing and cable machines. Try to do two complete circuits, if you are able. Do a circuit workout three days each week on nonconsecutive days.
High Intensity Interval Training
High intensity interval training, or HIIT, blasts fat as you condition your cardiovascular system and build muscle. Perform high intensity interval training by alternating strenuous effort and moderate-to-light effort. For example, walk at a slow pace on a treadmill for one minute, then run at top speed for one minute. Slow down to a brisk walking pace or jog for another minute. Continue alternating between intense effort and a light effort for 20 to 30 minutes. You can do HIIT on any machine in the gym, including a stair-stepper, elliptical, stationary bike or rowing machine. A study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism revealed that HIIT exercise three days each week over six weeks increased muscle tissue's ability to burn fat and carbohydrates in people who did not exercise prior to the study.
Don't neglect your overall fitness as you focus on weight loss. The best exercise program includes aerobic exercise for weight loss and cardiovascular fitness, strength training and flexibility. Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that increases your breathing and heart rate and makes you sweat. Strength training improves your muscle and bone health. You should include a strength-training element to your workout when exercising to not only lose weight, but also preserve muscle mass. Flexibility exercises, such as stretching, Yoga and some Pilates exercises, improve joint and muscle health. Flexibility exercises also increase your range of motion.
Before starting any weight-loss and exercise program, see your doctor for a complete physical. Discuss your goals. Ask your doctor to advise you of any special precautions for chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Do a five- to 10-minute warm-up, such as brisk walking or light jogging, prior to starting your workout to improve blood flow and prepare your muscles and joints for more strenuous exercise, and then take at least five minutes to cool down after you work out. Beginners should start with shorter circuits and brief intervals of intense exercise when starting HIIT. A personal trainer can teach you how to use gym equipment and show you proper form so you avoid injury. Listen to your body. If you feel pain or become dizzy, stop exercising and rest.
- American Council on Exercise: What Are the Benefits of Varying Your Workout Routine?
- American Council on Exercise: Circuit Training
- Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism: High-Intensity Aerobic Interval Training Increases Fat and Carbohydrate Metabolic Capacities in Human Skeletal Muscle
- MayoClinic.com: Fitness Training: Elements of a Well-Rounded Routine
- Fit Rated: Safety Precautions to Know When Doing HIIT
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.