Which Type of Exercise Fits Your Weight Loss Plan?

Which Type of Exercise Fits Your Weight Loss Plan?

Planning your exercise to fit your lifestyle is key in meeting your weight loss goals. Learn about the difference between cardio and strength training and how to incorporate them to achieve your perfect number on the scale.


Cardio, short for cardiovascular, is any exercise that causes your heart and lungs to work harder. Cardio helps you lose weight and:

  • Burns fat
  • Improves heart function
  • Reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Reduces the risk of osteoporosis

For exercise to reach the calorie- and fat-burning level, it needs to be elevated enough over your normal activity level to increase your metabolism. The American Heart Association recommends that you increase your heart rate to a target heart rate zone of 50-85 percent your maximum heart rate for optimal fat burning. The following is a general guideline of beats per minute (bpm) for the target heart rate zone by age.

  • 20 years: 100-170 bpm
  • 30 years: 95-162 bpm
  • 40 years: 90-153 bpm
  • 50 years: 85-145 bpm
  • 60 years: 80-136 bpm

To find out what your heart rate is, take your pulse while you’re exercising. Use your first two fingers on the inside of your wrist. Count your pulse for six seconds and multiply by 10 to find your beats per minute.

Cardio exercise comes in a variety of activities. Some of the more common cardio choices are:

  • Walking, running and jogging
  • Riding bicycles or attending spin classes
  • Swimming and rowing
  • Hiking or trail running

Strength Training

Strength training builds your muscles, but it’s more than just lifting weights. Benefits of strength training include:

  • Weight control
  • Increased stamina
  • Stronger bones
  • Pain management
  • Sharper focus

Incorporating strength training into your workout routine speeds up weight loss and builds muscles to maintain health. Common strength training choices are:

  • Free weights: traditional barbell and dumbbells.
  • Weight machines: machines that use the same principles as free weights to target specific movements
  • Resistance tubing: durable, lightweight tubing that provides muscle resistance when stretched
  • Body weight: exercises that use your own body weight as resistance, such as pullups, pushups and squats

When performing strength training, each exercise is performed in a set of repetitions (reps). Start with one set of 6-12 reps for each exercise. As you build up your strength and endurance, increase to two and then three sets of each move. You can also increase the amount of reps in each set.

Action Steps

Incorporating both cardio and strength training into your workouts will help you reach your weight loss goals faster. Take these steps to see the numbers you want on the scale.

  • Aim for 20-30 minutes of cardio on most days of the week to maintain health.
  • To lose weight, choose a cardio activity for 30-60 minutes three or more days a week.
  • Build strength sessions into your workout schedule two to three times a week.
  • Rest a day in between strength training sessions.





CATEGORIES: Workout, Weight Loss, Exercise, Strength Training, Plan, Body