This year, you’re going to achieve that perfect body you’ve always desired. No, I’m not joking. I’ve devised a straightforward workout plan to make this a reality. The best part? This weight loss program doesn’t include cardio. It’s the “anti-cardio” weight loss workout. Could it get any better? If you’re among the many individuals who hit the gym to achieve that perfect body but despise using cardio equipment for weight loss, this workout plan is ideal for you.
As we all know, traditional weight loss programs typically incorporate some element of cardio. You’re usually required to run, jump, cycle, or engage in other aerobic activities to elevate your heart rate temporarily, burn fat, and promote weight loss. If you dread these extended sessions, I’ve got good news for you: conventional wisdom isn’t always the best approach.
While it’s true that cardio burns calories and can result in weight loss when paired with a proper diet, and it does improve lung and heart function, cardio doesn’t significantly increase your metabolic rate over the long run. A study conducted in 2012 shows that aerobic exercise alone is less effective than resistance training for fat mass and weight loss. Sure, you burn calories while performing the activity, but as soon as you finish, you gradually stop burning calories at an accelerated rate. This reduction in elevated calorie-burning isn’t the most effective for weight loss. In contrast, a smart weight training circuit prepares you for massive “afterburn,” simultaneously helping you build muscle and improve your heart rate overall.
Moreover, a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that resistance training boosts your metabolism for up to 48 hours after your workout. If you’re not training for an endurance sport, you don’t have to worry too much about replacing cardio with other activities to experience weight loss. The exercises you choose are essential, but the efficiency of a weight loss workout depends on how you perform them.
If you hate hopping on the treadmill or stationary bike and running or pedaling for 20 to 30 minutes nonstop, consider alternative activities that will help you build your endurance levels and promote weight loss without making you dread going to the gym. High-intensity interval training (HIIT), circuit training, functional training exercises, and even micro workouts can effectively increase your metabolism, build muscle, and burn fat while keeping your workouts engaging and enjoyable.
Back Squats for Weight Loss
Using a power rack or squat rack, load weight onto a barbell that’s resting at about shoulder height. Stand under the bar and position yourself so the bar sits across the back of your shoulders and upper back, right at about the base of your neck. Next, slowly lift the barbell off the rack. Take a deep breath and slowly bend at the knees to squat and lower the weight towards the floor. Be sure to keep your chest up and don’t round or arch your back. You should feel the weight in your heels. Once you reach a point in the squat where the top of your legs (quadriceps) are parallel to the floor, stop descending. Breathe out as you slowly stand up and return to the starting position.
Perform two warmup sets of squats using about 40-50% of your 1-rep max for 8 to 10 reps. Rest for one minute between these sets. Then perform two sets with 85% of your 1-rep max for 4 to 6 reps. Rest for up to three minutes between these sets.
Front Squats for Weight Loss
Front squats aren’t a whole lot different than back squats, besides the fact that the barbell is positioned across the front part of your body as opposed to the back. Front squats force your abdominal and back muscles to work harder to stabilize your body.
To execute a front squat, place the barbell across the front part of your shoulders, just below your chin. Cross your arms and push the bar against your shoulders with your fingers or fists to stabilize it. Hold your elbows up and then slowly drop down to a squatting position until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure the bar doesn’t roll forward. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement 12 to 15 times.
Dumbbell Rows for Weight Loss
Dumbbell rows are fantastic for working the large muscle groups of the back. A dumbbell row can be executed a couple of ways: Traditional and Modified.
Traditional: Grab a flat bench. Start by placing your left or right knee on the top of the bench. Then bend over so your back is parallel to the floor and place your same-side arm on the bench to support the upper half of your body. Next, grab your dumbbell and slowly raise it from the ground up to your chest, then back down. Repeat this movement for 12 to 15 reps, then switch sides and repeat.
Modified: Assume the pushup position on the floor while keeping each of your hands on a dumbbell. Put your bodyweight on your right arm and pull the left dumbbell upwards towards your chest, then slowly lower it back down to the floor. Next, immediately switch your bodyweight to your left arm and pull the dumbbell in your right hand upwards. Alternate this left-to-right dumbbell row movement for 20 to 30 repetitions. This modified version of the dumbbell not only works your back muscles but your abdominal muscles as well.
Circuit Training for Weight Loss
Circuit training is perfect for accelerating weight loss because of its ability to keep your heart rate elevated over an extended period of time. With circuit training you don’t rest as often as you typically would with set-based routines.
Furthermore, there’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to the types of exercises you can perform in a circuit. A sample routine might consist of 15 squats, 20 to 30 pushups, 8 to 12 pull-ups, 15 seated chest presses, and 30 lunges – all back-to-back without rest in between each set. When you have completed a set of each exercise, rest for two minutes, then repeat the full circuit 4 to 5 times.
Mountain Climbers and Crunches for Weight Loss
Perform supersets of mountain climbers and crunches. To execute a mountain climber, assume the pushup position and balance your weight on straight arms and legs. Bend your left leg and bring it forward until it’s directly under your chest, being careful to not let your foot touch the floor. Return your leg to the starting position and then repeat the same movement with the right leg. You can enhance the intensity of this workout by moving each hand around ten inches forwards or backwards in concert with the leg movements.
After your set of mountain climbers, immediately transition into a set of ab crunches without a break in between. Perform as many ab crunches as you can, then rest for two minutes. Repeat this routine for at least 3 sets.
Barbell Overhead Press for Weight Loss
Barbell overhead presses are amazing for developing the muscles in your shoulders. To perform a barbell overhead press, load the appropriate amount of weight onto a barbell that’s resting on a shoulder press rack or squat rack. The bar’s height from the floor should put it right at the same level as your collarbone. If you’re using a lighter weight, you may be able to load a bar that’s sitting on the floor. However, if you go this route, be careful and avoid putting too much strain on your back as you lift the weighted bar off the floor.
When you grip the bar, the distance between your hands should be slightly more than shoulder width. When ready, back the bar off the rack. Inhale, and then slowly exhale as you press the weight above your head. Be sure to tilt your head back slightly so the bar doesn’t hit your nose or chin on the way up or down. Once your arms are fully extended above your head, slowly bring the bar back down to the starting position and repeat the movement.
Perform two warmup sets with a weight that’s 40-50% of the weight you would use for your 1-rep max. Repeat each rep 8 to 10 times. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes between each set. Then perform two sets with 85% of the weight you would use for your 1-rep max. Repeat this cycle 4 to 6 times.
Deadlifts for Weight Loss
Deadlifts are one of the foundational exercises for building a strong back. However, to prevent back and knee injuries, form is the key here. To perform a deadlift, load a barbell with enough weight that will allow you to perform up to 15 reps. Keeping your knees slightly bent, bend over and stick your butt outward to grasp the barbell. Your back should be flat without bowing or arching. Hold your chest and head up. Engage your glute muscles and drive your hips forward to stand up and bring the barbell off the floor. Be careful when reversing the action and lowering the barbell back to the floor – be sure to maintain good form and don’t drop the bar.
Perform two warmup sets of deadlifts using 40-50% of the weight you would use for your 1-rep max. Repeat the deadlift with this amount of weight for 8 to 10 reps. Rest for no more than a minute between each set, then perform two sets with 85% of your 1-rep max. Repeat the deadlift with this amount of weight for 4 to 6 times. Rest for three minutes between each of these sets.
Pullups for Weight Loss
Hold on to a pullup bar with your hands slightly wider than the shoulder width. Perform two sets of pull-ups to failure. Rest for one minute between each set. If you can’t perform a minimum of 8 bodyweight pull-ups without taking a break, use an assisted pull-up machine to take some of the load off.
Use deadlifts, squats, and bench presses to engage as much muscle as possible. You should also consider performing some non-conventional exercises like farmer’s walks and tire flips, if you have the room and proper equipment.
By simply alternating lower and upper body exercises, you can spread the fatigue across your entire body. Reduce the amount of rest taken between sets to force your heart to work harder and switch to an aerobic state, which will further accelerate fat burning.