What is the best form of exercise to lose weight?

Exercise is a great way to help you achieve a calorie deficit which you need in order to lose weight. If you burn more calories than you consume weight loss should follow. So which exercises should you be doing to get maximum benefit?

Any type of exercise is better than none at all. Remember the saying: “If you are moving, you are already lapping people who are on the couch.” But let’s look a little more closely.


Most people who want to lose weight opt for cardio. The reason may be that it is easy to do and requires little skill to perform it safely. Cardio could be taking a brisk walk, running, rowing, using a cross-trainer, swimming or cycling and these exercises do burn a decent amount of calories. The more you do and the heavier you are the more calories you will burn. A person weighing 120kg will burn roughly a third as many calories as a person weighing 60kg doing the same exercise for the same amount of time. Which exercise should you choose? I’d suggest the one you prefer and so are more likely to do regularly. Start at a pace and intensity that suits your fitness level and gradually build up.

Walking is great for beginners, but if you are very overweight and it is affecting joints such as knees try something like a cross-trainer for less impact. Running is a good calorie burner for a shorter space of time but not many people are up to this at the start.

So to summarise, if you have a substantial amount of weight to lose, go non-weightbearing and build up duartion and intensity over time. Expect to feel slightly out of breath but don’t go mad. Consistency and frequency beats duration.

Strength Training

Strength or resistance based training is often overlooked as a way of losing weight and many women are concerned that they will get body builder muscles if they lift heavy. This isn’t the case. It is true that lifting weights for 30 minutes won’t burn as many calorie as a 30 minute run would but the benefits and calorie burn will last beyond the session itself.

Resistance training helps to build lean muscle which in turn can boost your metabolic rate, therefore the more lean muscle you have, the more calories the body burns. Lifting weights can also create an “afterburn effect” which means that your metabolic rate will stay a little higher after the session and you will burn slightly more calories than usual during recovery.

Other forms of Cardio

Hiit or High Intensity Interval training is very popular for weight loss, especially for people who are short of time as sessions tend to be 20-30 mins long. These types of sessions however require you to work at very high intensities for short intervals of around 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest and then repeat for several rounds.

These are great as they also lead to this “afterburn effect” but possibly not one to try on your own as a beginner or if you are very overweight unless you are otherwise quite fit or working with a suitably qualified professional.

In summary, if your goal is weight loss choose the type of exercise you prefer. If you are opting for any kind of resistance training consider having a few sessions with a coach first to learn how to perform the exercises correctly and safely.

At Fitness Space we include a monthly personal training session in each membership as standard and will devise a programme for you to follow in the gym as well as recommending suitable classes which are included for free.

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