Whenever I talk to beginner exercises or people who are coming back after a long break and want to lose weight, they will say to me, “I’m just going to start with cardio and once I lose weight I’ll begin strength training.” I totally understand that the idea of doing it all at once can be overwhelming, but strength training is not only a huge part of losing weight and feeling healthy—it’s the KEY. Best of all, it is easier than some people think.
Exercises for Weight Loss
Don’t get me wrong … I’m a huge fan of cardio. I love the way it makes me feel and I love the satisfaction of seeing how many calories I’ve burned, how many steps I’ve taken and what zone I’ve been training in. But when it comes to long-term weight loss and getting strong: strength training rules! Muscle is more metabolically active than body fat. In other words, muscle burns more calories per day at a resting heart rate than body fat so the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns daily. In addition, muscle is more compact (dense) than body fat and helps to sculpt your body (nice bonus). Lastly, strength training keeps your joints mobile and promotes your ability to do daily activities while feeling good. No matter what your goals are, strength training is an important component of your exercise program, and it’s never too late to start.
I am a stickler for form. If you want good results, you need to use good form. Here are a few tips for some of the most effective bodyweight exercises that will help you build muscle, lose weight and get strong!
Push-ups are one of the best body weight exercises ever invented, they require zero equipment, build strength in all of the right places, have many variations to keep things fresh, and are easy to modify and track progress. You can burn calories working multiple muscle groups and shape your body at the same time. Push-ups make you strong.
When it comes to push-ups, your form is crucial. Each push-up needs to be a full range of motion. If you only go half way down or push your butt up in the air for several reps, you shouldn’t count them. Sounds harsh? Well, cheating never gets you ahead. Here’s how to get set up to do a push-up.
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- Set your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, hands facing forward.
- Set your feet directly behind you at a comfortable position (together or slightly separated). The further apart your feet are, the more stable you will be until you are able to build your balance up enough to put your feet together.
- Make your body into on straight line from the top of your head down through your heels. Your butt should stay in line with your legs and back, never up in the air. Your abs engaged and your shoulders over your wrists. (Basically a full body plank position.) Keep your neck neutral, don’t drop your head or crank it back.
- With your arms straight, glutes and abs contracted, slowly lower your body until your chest touches the ground, or arms are at approx. a 90-degree angle, and push yourself back into your starting position. Try to keep your core body steady. Don’t sag through the low back or push your butt way up in the air.