The best workout plan for weight loss is not necessarily the best workout plan for building muscle or for increasing overall stamina and endurance.
When it comes to choosing the best workout plan, what type of plan you should select depends upon what you ultimately hope to accomplish. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, the best plan for you will differ from that for someone whose goal is to build muscle mass or someone whose goal is to increase his or her endurance.
Then again, just about any form of exercise will help you lose weight, as long as you don’t increase your caloric intake, but some workout plans are better than others for maximum long-term weight loss, just as some plans are better for achieving the objectives of building muscle mass or increasing endurance.
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Best Workout Plan for Weight Loss
In order to lose weight, you must expend more calories than you consume, and some activities and exercises cause your body to burn more calories than others. For example, if you walk eight miles at a moderate pace, you’ll burn an average of 475 calories, but if you speed-walk instead, you’ll increase calorie expenditure by another 100 to 125 calories. On the other hand, if you run those eight miles, you’ll burn approximately 850 calories. (Nutristrategy.com, 2010)
If health reasons prevent you from walking or running, consider some of the following calorie-burning activities that are less stressful on the knees and legs:
- Learn yoga or take a Pilates or water-aerobics class: These are all effective ways to burn calories and, ultimately, lose weight.
- Start bicycling: Set the gears so the bike isn’t too easy to pedal and, if possible, ride over hilly terrain, which is far more physically taxing than riding on level ground.
- Go swimming: Do as many laps as possible for at least 30 minutes without stopping.
You should also consider purchasing a calorie-counting guide or at least using one of the many calorie counters that are available free on the World Wide Web.
Best Workout Plan for Building Muscle Mass
According to Arnold Schwarzenegger, seven-time winner of the Mr. Olympia title, the best way to build muscle is by challenging your body to the maximum with supersets. For instance, work biceps with triceps, chest with back or thighs with hamstrings; and after warming up with a light set, go immediately from one exercise to the next, performing a total of at least 20 combinations and resting only two to three minutes between each combination. Some examples of supersets include these:
- Squats or leg presses supersetted with leg curls.
- Sissy squats with stiff-legged deadlifts.
- Bench-presses with bent-over or cable rows.
- Barbell curls with lying tricep extensions.
- Lateral raises with pullovers.
- Incline bar bell presses with chins or pulldowns.
- Dumbbell presses with behind-the-neck chins or pulldowns.
- Crunches supersetted with leg-press or donkey calf raises. (Holman, 1995)
Best Workout Plan for Increasing Endurance
Any form of exercise that increases your heartbeat rate for at least 30 minutes will build endurance. Running, of course, is a surefire way to increase endurance, although you might try a “fun” alternative like rollerblading, which will not only build endurance but also tone your lower body and increase your stability and balance.
There’s also jumping rope, playing tennis or badminton, swimming or bicycling, but if you chose biking, set the gears so that the bike isn’t easy to pedal and don’t merely cruise aimlessly around the neighborhood. (Ebron, 1995)
In summary, any workout plan that builds muscle or increases endurance will also burn calories, so regardless of your goal, if you exercise, you’re obviously going to lose weight, that is, unless you correspondingly increase your caloric intake.
But that’s one of many benefits of exercise. In addition to improving your health and making you feel better, both physically and mentally, being physically active allows you to indulge, at least on occasion, in your favorite foods and do so without fear of gaining weight.