Weight loss is a very long journey and there are many diets and weight loss tips available to 'help' you on your way. Regardless of how you start, at some point in your journey you need to think about adding some exercise. Exercise plays an important role in weight loss and if you are serious about achieving your goal, it's something you will need to do.

How exercise will help you lose weight

No matter what method or diet plan you have chosen to help you lose weight, you will no doubt be learning that calories are one of the most important factors in weight loss. In simple terms, if you eat too many calories you will gain weight. Eat less than your body needs and you will lose weight. While eating less is a great approach at the start and will bring you some success, there will come a point in your weight loss journey where regular exercise will be necessary if you want to continue to reach your goals and create a body that is slim, toned, and defined.

The primary reason that exercise will help you lose weight is that it burns calories. This means that instead of constantly cutting your calories you can eat a little more but still lose weight by increasing the amount of exercise you do. The second way exercise helps you to lose weight is by increasing your metabolism.  Your metabolism is the way your body burns calories - the more efficient it is at burning calories, the more calories and fat you will burn.

That's fine I hear you say, but what exercise should you do? If you really want to enhance your weight loss, burn fat and calories, and create a slim, toned body then combining aerobic (cardio) and resistance (weights) exercise is the way to go.

The right exercise for weight loss

There are a couple of things you need to know if you are using exercise to enhance your weight loss and tone your body. The first is that you will need to do both cardio exercise and weight training for the best possible results. The second is that you need to exercise in the right way and I'm going to explain what that is.

1. Cardio training

Cardio or aerobic exercise is a fantastic way to burn fat and calories, increase your fitness, and improve your health. Cardio can be performed in many ways from walking, running, swimming, and cycling to dancing, skating, and housework. But there is a secret to cardio exercise and fat loss that not too many know. 

You have probably heard that the best way to burn fat is low intensity exercise like walking. While it's true this type of cardio will improve your health and burn some calories, you will not achieve the type of fat loss you need if you are trying to lose weight. The key to losing weight with cardio is high intensity exercise. High intensity exercise means that you will work at 80% of your maximum effort. This means you will be huffing and puffing, and your heart rate will be very high. You may find in the beginning that you can only do a few minutes or maybe even 20 or 30 seconds - that's ok. High intensity exercise gives your metabolism a real boost and you will not only burn calories while you are exercising but also for hours later (some athletes, after a very hard high intensity exercise session can continue to burn calories from this session for 24 hours!). Yes, you read right - high intensity exercise will continue to burn calories for a long time after you have finished exercising.

High intensity cardio exercise is only part of the equation if you are losing weight. If you want to tone and define your body as you burn fat you will need to add some weight training as well.

2. Weight training

Many people, women in particular, shy away from lifting weights because they don't want to get 'big'. Many people also choose to lift light weights but do many repetitions. This is fine and will to a certain point tone your muscles. But if you want to define your muscles and increase your metabolism then you need to lift heavier weights for more repetitions.

Fear not, the average person trying to build muscle and create definition will not end up looking like Mr or Ms Universe. To do that you need a very specific training and eating plan. To define your muscles you need to perform two to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. Not sure what I mean? A repetition is the number of times you do the exercise - for instance if you do a bicep curl 10 times, you have performed 10 repetitions. A set is a group of repetitions - so two sets of 10 repetitions means you perform 10 repetitions, twice. At this level the weight you lift will be heavy enough to build muscle and increase your strength but light enough that you will tone and define your muscle rather than 'bulk up'.

It may seem a little confusing if you are new to exercise and weight training but I can assure you that a quick 'Google' search will make things clearer.

Not only will weight training boost your metabolism and define your muscles but it will make you stronger, can prevent falls and injury, and will strengthen your bones.

Exercise has many health benefits but when combined with an eating plan for fat loss you are making a positive change to your life and are making all the right choices to reach your goal. If you've never thought about it before, it's time to take another look at how regular exercise, especially cardio and weight training, can help you achieve your weight loss goals.