Looking to lose a few pounds? I'm a huge advocate of resistance training for just about anyone—male or female, big or small. Often I see people who want to lose body fat shy away from weights for various reasons. Perhaps they're concerned they’ll bulk up and look like a pro-wrestler. Or maybe they’re intimidated to step foot in the weight room. I certainly was back in 2006 when I discovered the gym on my college campus and didn’t know how to work any of the machines.
Lifting weights is the best thing you can do for yourself if you are serious about dropping body fat. First you burn a few hundred calories during our actual workout, then after you're done training with weights, you’ll be burning calories for up to several hours after the session as your body returns to homeostasis. Also, for every pound of lean muscle mass you put on your body, you burn about an extra 50 calories per day.
When you burn more calories than you consume, you're in a caloric deficit for the day, and that results in weight loss. Once the body fat has melted away, you'll be pleasantly surprised to see beautifully defined and toned muscles that were was hidden under a few layers of fat. (The muscles don’t get toned and defined if you just do cardio, which is another reason to say hello to resistance training.)
Everybody reacts differently to workouts, but as a rule of thumb, if you're looking to tone up and shed body fat, you want to stick with high intense circuit training using low weight, high/fast reps, and little to no rest time in between sets. If you're trying to get big and bulky, you want to stick with heavy weight, low/slow reps, with up to three minutes between sets.
Here's a weight loss circuit training program to get you started!
4 minute warm up (Repeat this series twice. On the second time, go faster!)
- Butt Kicks (30 seconds) Jog in place, bringing your heels up to your butt when you bend your knees
- Bounce (30 seconds) Bounce on the balls of your feet as if you were jumping rope
- Jumping Jacks (30 seconds) Starting with your arms down by your sides, and your feet together, jump the legs out as you raise your arms over your head
- High Knees (30 seconds) In a running motion, raise your knees up in front of you to hip height
- 15 Push Ups: Balance on your hands and toes with your feet together, hands directly underneath the shoulders. Bend the elbows to lower the body a few inches from the ground. Exhale to push yourself back up to starting position.
- 30 Second Bicycle Crunches: On your back, bring your knees into your chest. Keep your hands are on the back of your head, elbows wide. Lift your shoulder blades off the mat and twist your body, bringing your right elbow to the left knee. At the same time extend your right leg out in front of you. Twist and turn to the opposite leg. As you twist and turn, try to make sure your shoulder blades don't touch the mat.
- 10 Burpees: Start standing. Squat down and place your hands on the floor underneath you. As you support your weight with your arms, kick your legs back and end up in a push up position. Quickly spring both legs in and stand back up.
- 15 Lunges on each leg: Start with one leg forward one leg back, and both feet facing forward. Your back heel is elevated, and you're balancing the ball of the back foot. Keep your spine straight as you bend both knees. Aim to get your front leg parallel to the ground. Exhale as you push through the heal to return to standing position.
- 15 Cable Rows: Placing both feet in the pad of a rowing machine, grab the handle. Lean back so your legs are slightly bent, with your spine in a straight position. Exhale as you pull the bar toward your chest. As you row, keep your elbows close to your sides and squeeze your shoulder blades behind your back. Inhale as you let your arms extend, but keep your spine straight.
- 10 Walkouts: In a standing position, bend your knees to squat down. Walk your hands out in front of you until you end up in a push up position. From here, walk your hands back down towards your feet. As you do so, bend your knees. Get yourself back into the squat position, and push through the heels to return back to standing.
- 15 Dumbbell Shoulder Press: Stand with your knees slightly bent and keep your spine straight. Raise your dumbbells up to your shoulders. Exhale as you push your arms over your head and inhale the dumbbells back to starting position. Maintain a straight spine throughout.
- 15 Lat Pull Downs: Grab the lat pull down bar so that your palms face forward and your hands are slightly wider than shoulder width. Have a "seat" bringing the bar down with you. Exhale as you pull the bar down towards your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together behind your back.