We all know that whether you are trying to shed those last couple pounds or whether you are just working towards maintaining your weight, exercise is absolutely vital. Regular workouts are a great way to lower your risk for diseases and health conditions, boost your mood and your energy levels, help you get those 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, and even improve your sex life! However, many people wonder whether their workouts should remain consistent, regardless of their weight loss goals. The simple answer is that there are some small differences when you are exercising to lose weight versus when you are exercising to keep your weight stable.
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When you are exercising to lose weight, typically your workouts (and diet) are going to be more extreme. Most experts recommend higher intensity training, because it obliterates fat, helps get that heart pumping, and allows you to continue to burn through calories even after you've stopped moving. Examples of high intensity workouts include cross training, kickboxing, spinning classes and Zumba dance classes. These modes of exercise consist of short, extreme bursts of energy and small periods of rest or more relaxed movement.
For weight loss, your goal is going to revolve around eliminating fat from your body and gaining muscle. Weight lifting will probably become an essential part of your routine, because it encourages your body to shed that fat and hone in on developing and toning those muscles. Increased muscle mass helps amp up that metabolism, which breaks down the foods you eat and converts them into energy.
Keep in mind that an essential part of weight loss includes what you are putting into your body. You can hit the gym for hours every day, but if you are stuffing yourself with sugary, fatty, or overly-processed foods, those extra pounds aren't going anywhere!
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When it comes to maintaining your weight, your workouts will adapt to fit your new goals. The important thing to remember is that you must stay active. Sure, you've reached your goal weight, but if you don't make an effort to get up off your butt, your body is going to react accordingly. Most people who are looking to maintain their weight work out just as much, if not more, than they did during their weight loss endeavors.
The key difference is that you should shoot for more moderate workouts, rather than high intensity exercise. Your body has already done away with unnecessary fat and has developed muscle. Keeping up with aerobic exercise is an important part of this process. Go on long walks, grab a bike and explore your neighborhood, or join a spinning class at your local gym. Those activities will help get your heart rate up.
In terms of weight training, it is definitely crucial that you continue to pump some iron! Keeping those muscles nice and toned is absolutely essential. Vary your weight training with body weight exercises and hand weights and machines. Work on building up your stamina and endurance, rather than your strength.
Mixing up your workouts is a vital part of weight maintenance. Keeping your weight consistent is going to be a lifelong struggle, so you don't want to get stuck in a routine that you will eventually tire of and abandon. Don't be afraid to try new activities. If you find yourself getting tired of that 5-mile run every morning, give kayaking a shot! Muscle confusion will help keep things interesting so you don't get bored and head back to the couch.
>> Read more: Sweaty, Steady Cardio vs. HIIT: Why Both?