When women refer to weight loss, what they usually mean is fat loss. For maximum effectiveness in losing fat, women should hit the gym. Two forms of exercise, cardio and strength training — both of which can be performed at the gym — can help a woman quickly burn fat to noticeable degrees. Combined with caloric restriction, the gym can be a woman’s secret weapon for weight loss.
For many women, strength training is the road less taken. But strength training does something that cardio does not: it builds lean muscle. The body’s act of building lean muscle leads to a continued calorie burn post-workout that requires no extra effort on your part. To start weight training, you only need to choose your method: free weights, machines or group classes. Group classes tend to be the safest option for beginners, as you will be instructed on proper form for resistance training, which will prevent injury. Ask a trainer for advice before starting an individual free-weight or machine routine. Pilates and vinyasa yoga are also options for strength training. Ideally, you should schedule three weight training sessions per week — even 30 minute sessions are enough to see results. Perform each exercise for three sets of 10 repetitions, or reps, each. Take one to three minute breaks between each set.
Most women are already familiar with cardio workouts, though they may not be doing them the right way. Cardio works by calling on the body to put its fat-burning system into overdrive, provided you are doing it at the right intensity and for the right duration. A proper fat-burning cardio session should be at least 40 minutes and should require you to push your heart to 60 to 70 percent of its maximum rate. Cardio opportunities in the gym are plentiful. Not only do most gyms offer cardio classes ranging from kickboxing to step aerobics, but gyms also offer individual cardio equipment as well as facilities, such as stationary bikes and swimming pools. The truth is that any activity that gets your heart rate up can be cardio, so do what you enjoy most. Shoot for three cardio sessions per week to start.
The best results are seen when you combine cardio with strength training. This maximizes the number of calories burned; so, assuming that you are keeping your caloric intake constant, a workout combining these two types will lead to the greatest weight loss. Such a sample workout could consist of a weekly schedule in which you alternate strength training with cardio, taking one day off. This type of schedule is especially effective because it helps you build the habit of going to the gym. For example, you may choose to do six free-weight exercises for strength training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and take one-hour aerobics classes Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
While gym workouts are useful in spurring weight loss, diet is also chief to results. A number of studies have shown how caloric reduction results in weight loss — primarily fat loss — implying that one of the fastest ways to weight loss is through eating less food or less calorie-dense food. Other studies have shown that replacing carbohydrates in your diet with proteins leads to decreased weight and waist size. By incorporating diet with exercise, you can arrive at your goal much more quickly. But remember, if you have a health condition, be sure to consult a doctor before changing your diet or beginning an exercise regimen.