Let’s face it: Losing weight can be tough, especially if you are a woman. Busy work schedules, child care, the biological factors of a woman’s body, along with a whole mess of other reasons, can make losing that first or last 10 pounds quite difficult. But with a dedicated attitude, a nutritious diet and the right workout routine, the goal weight loss can be achieved.
One pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories, so when you burn 3,500 calories more than you take in, you lose that 1 pound. Aerobic workouts are characterized by repetitive movements of muscles for extended periods of time for intense calorie burning. Maybe this brings to mind images of Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda, but there are many more choices when it comes to aerobic routines these days, such as elliptical training, jogging, cycling and rowing. This type of exercise will turn your body into a lean, mean fat-burning machine since it boosts metabolism during your workout and keeps it elevated well after you’ve finished your workout, according to the American Council on Exercise. It's essential to include at least 150 minutes of cardio exercise per week, reports the CDC. Cardio or aerobic activity is anything that gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. You should aim for at least 10 minutes at a time of aerobic activity to receive optimal health benefits.
Strength training has many benefits, including increased muscle mass and bone density, and decreased fat. As you increase your muscle mass, you’ll also increase your resting metabolism, which means you burn more calories all day long. Each pound of muscle you gain burns 35 to 50 calories more each day. The more calories you burn, the more weight you lose. The Women’s Heart Foundation has come up with a strength training routine for women to perform two to three times per week for 20 minutes each session. Include strength training exercises that engage your shoulders, chest, biceps, triceps, glutes, legs, back and calves. Make sure to give your muscles at least one day of rest between workouts. For upper and lower body exercises, it’s important to use the correct weight. Your last rep per set should be difficult to finish, but you shouldn’t be shaking. If you are, use less weight. If you find that the sets are too easy, increase the weight.
Circuit training offers the benefits of cardio, but with the muscle-building aspects of strength training. You can burn 30 percent more calories with a circuit-training session compared to a typical weight-training workout, according to "Fitness Magazine." A circuit is a series of strength or cardio exercises, but many include both types of exercise. You repeat a circuit two to three times with little to no rest in between sets. If you’re new to circuit training, keep it simple. Try press-ups, squat jumps, situps, squat thrusts, bench tips and treadmill running. Each exercise should only take 20 to 30 seconds; give yourself a 30-second recovery between each exercise. Repeat the circuit three times with a three-minute recovery in between each circuit. Warm up and cool down with light physical activity and don't forget to stretch.
To lose weight, you need to maintain a healthy diet and burn more calories than you take in. You want to have a steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week until you reach your goal. Healthy foods to eat every day include whole-grain carbohydrates, lean sources of protein, vegetables, fruits and heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for weight loss: Calories burned in 1 hour
- American Council on Exercise: Successful Weight Control
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Women's Heart Foundation: Strength Training for Women
- Bodybuilding.com: 10 Reasons Women Should Do Resistance Training
- Brian Mac Sports Coach: Circuit Training
- Mayo Clinic: The Mayo Clinic Diet: A Weight-Loss Program for Life
Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.