Exercise Plan – Cardio and Circuits For Fat Loss

Once your body is used to activity and movement (see Exercise Plan 1), it is time to move on. You may have started with an activity such as walking or swimming. There is no need to stop this activity, but it is time to introduce something else.

If you are walking you should aim to keep your heart rate up.

Try to walk briskly, so that you are making an effort to breathe. Aim for a heart rate of between 60-70% of maximum (see Target Heart Rate Calculator). Optimum cardio durations for fat loss are between 35-55 minutes.

Many athletes believe that cardio for longer than 60 minutes can have a catabolic (muscle loss) effect.

Circuit Training

Circuit Training is carried out at a gym or fitness center. It will help you preserve muscle mass while you are trying to lose fat.

Circuit Training involves high repetition resistance exercises with little or no rest breaks in between each exercise. Most gyms have a circuit training room. The weights used are typically low.

When joining a gym, most instructors will create a program for you.

See a full circuit training workout. One popular low impact circuit training program for women is Curves Fitness.

Mix It Up!

If you have been doing a single exercise (such as walking), try to introduce some more exercises into your plan, such as a rowing machine, or jogging, or cycling. Your body needs the variety to prevent it from adapting too quickly to your current program. This is essential during any weight loss plateau.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

The human body is very clever when it comes to adaptation and conserving fuel. If your goal is fat loss, applying some different techniques can be helpful. Studies have shown that when cardio sessions are maintained at exactly the same pace for a long duration, the body will adjust itself to the exercise, and will attempt to conserve energy.

This can be overcome by interval training. Exercise at a moderate pace for, say, 4-5 minutes, then go all out for 1 minute. Then bring the pace back down for a couple of minutes (until you feel you’ve recovered).

Continue this process throughout your cardio session and you will ‘trick’ your body into consuming more calories.

Research continues to show the interval training can be superior to traditional endurance training.

Try the 7 minute workout, backed by science and recommended by the ACSM.

How to create a strength training plan

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  • Talanian, J. L., Galloway, S. D., Heigenhauser, G. J., Bonen, A., & Spriet, L. L. (2007). Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women. Journal of applied physiology, 102(4), 1439-1447. Link