Amidst all of the latest dietary and fitness trends, losing weight amounts to a simple principle: Take in fewer calories than you expend.A pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so to lose a single pound, you’ll need to cut calories, add calorie-burning activity—or a combination of the two. Click To Tweet
Finding a workout approach that works for you ensures you’ll stick with it long enough to reach your goals. On the following pages, experts weigh the pros and cons of the most popular approaches.
“Working together with another person with similar goals can be one of the best strategies,” says Michele Olson, PhD, CSCS, senior clinician of sport science at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. “Partners can coach each other, be gatekeepers in terms of sticking to a dietary plan and track weight loss via something like Monday weigh-ins.” Supporting each other and a sense of striving to achieve something together also makes partner workouts an appealing approach.
When you work out alone you can often be your own worst critic, says Olson, especially when you hit a sticking point where progress stalls. “If you’re not losing weight, you don’t have your support buddy reminding you, ‘I didn’t lose weight either this week. Remember, plateaus occur. It’s okay.’”
The key to finding a successful workout plan is to go where you feel the most comfortable, says Olson.
“Many people feel gyms are filled with fit, muscular folks,” Olson notes. “And that’s not a great place for everyone else.”
You don’t have this pressure exercising out of doors. “It frees you to put your feet on the actual earth as well as feeling your heart beat, your sweat pour, etc.,” says Olson. “It’s just you and nature. Unlike a gym, the atmosphere will always be friendly.” There’s also no need to look a certain way, whether you’re working out by yourself or with another person.
Investing in a home exercise machine or set of equipment can be a big financial decision.
“Machines and body weight workouts are both valuable,” says Neal Pire, certified exercise physiologist and health coach at SwimQuest+Fit in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. “Machines and small equipment add load (resistance), which easily increases intensity, calorie burn, and may also increase EPOC (a post-exercise afterburner effect).”
On the other hand, body weight workouts make it easy to exercise almost anywhere, without much muss and fuss, Pire adds.
Large classes packed with exercisers can be intimidating to beginners, but they offer benefits you won’t find working out by yourself or with a personal trainer, says Pire. “Classes and small-group training programs provide social support, peer pressure to attend, participate, work harder, succeed; a set time and place; and a ‘team’ approach to a common goal.”
Individual personal training provides the trainer with the opportunity to provide the client undivided attention, however, says Pire. “This allows for customization in program design.”
“Overall, the best type of exercise is the one you will do,” says Pire.