If we had to guess, you’re likely well aware of the fact that you need to pair exercise with a great, healthy diet—usually at a moderate calorie deficit—if you’d like to get fit, drop a few pounds, and slim down. But not all forms of exercise are created equal as it pertains to slimming down.
“Studies have shown that in order to lose weight you need to combine three types of activity,” Michael Mosley, MD, the respected British author and TV and podcast host, recently told the site Express. “[They’re] high-intensity interval training (HIIT); low-intensity, or ‘incidental’ activity; and resistance training.”
In other words, if you want a slimmer figure, you need to have a fitness plan that includes rapid-fire, intense workouts (like here); you need to lift weights in order to build muscle mass, which will in turn help you burn more fat; and you need to be sure to engage in more “incidental activity,” which essentially means you need to move around more throughout your day.
While he’s 100% correct—if you do those three things consistently and eat the right diet, you will slim down—there are other things you can be doing along the way that will help you shed a few pounds and slim down even faster. In fact, we reached out to scores of fitness experts for their specific tips you can use to help you along your slimmer-body journey, and below are their answers. So read on, and for one great strength-training routine you can do now, see here for The Best 10-Minute Workout for a Lean Body Fast, Says Top Trainer.
According to Anu Lall, a certified yoga instructor, author, and founder of YogaSmith, engaging in breath work is an “extremely” underrated way to help you slim down your body. “Powerful breathing exercises improve your efficiency at exercise while optimizing the productivity of your personal vehicle—your body,” she told us. “Proper breathing is like maintaining your body’s fuel economy, and can be included in a training program with great results.”
She often recommends breathing workout sessions that can last upwards of 20 mintues for clients who have limited mobility or have been suffering from an injury. For people struggling with obesity, she recommends performing a yoga technique knowns as “kapaal bhaati.”
“It works well for weight loss,” she says.
To do it, you sit on the floor with your spine erect. Then you take deep breaths. When you exhale, you pull in your stomach, pulling your belly into your spine while squeezing your abs, with a slow, relaxed exhale. You take 20 breaths this way, always being mindful of your body. “If breathing techniques are chosen properly, they can help people lose weight and maintain a healthy BMI,” she says.
For what it’s worth, new science backs her up on the importance of breathing exercises. One new study from researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder, which was published in the Journal of American Heart Association, found that High-Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST), or inhaling hard on a breathing device that offers resistance, is as good for your heart as exercise walking! For more on this, read about The Secret 5-Minute Breathing Exercise Everyone Over 50 Should Do.
Like Dr. Mosley mentioned, “the ideal type of training to achieve a lean body will be a combination of resistance training with high-intensity cardiovascular exercise,” says David Sautter, a NASM-certified personal trainer at Top Fitness Magazine. “Depending on your level of fitness, you should perform either three to four full-body workouts or two upper-body workouts and two lower-body workouts per week.”
He advises you to focus on compound movements that target the greatest number of muscle groups, “such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, and rows.”
“Start with three sets of 8 to 15 repetitions for each exercise,” he says.
Additionally, you should perform one or two days per week of HIIT. “I would recommend a plyometric or jump training-based workout,” he advised. “This would include jump squats, jumping lunges, jumping rope, box jumps, etc. Select five to nine exercises and perform 10 repetitions for each exercise without any breaks. Once you complete the list once, rest for a few minutes, then do it two or three more times. The workout should only take around 15 to 20 minutes.” And for more amazing workout advice, don’t miss The Secret Exercise Tricks for a Better Body After 40, Say Experts.
If you’re doing total-body workouts, as mentioned above, you can take advantage of the training technique known as supersets. “Doing full-body workouts with supersets as opposed to the classic ‘body-part split,’ with ‘leg days’ and ‘chest days,’ can be very effective for rapid fat loss and body composition change, and it only needs to be performed three times-per-week,” says Elliott Upton, a NASM-certified personal trainer at Ultimate Performance and the head of LiveUP Online Coaching. “Supersets training means rest time is reduced during a workout, training intensity is kept high, and you can burn significantly more calories doing it.”
For a great example of training with supersets, read about The Simple Trick That’s the Key to Better Workouts, Say Experts.
While the vast majority of the trainers we spoke to advise you to strength train or do HIIT (or combine the two) for maximizing your fat loss and muscle growth, one expert, Shannon Henry, RD, of EZCare Clinic, says you should jump in the pool. “Swimming as an exercise burns fat, trim inches, and helps you stay stronger, fit, and healthier than ever,” she told us. “Whether you have a breaststroke or freestyle, intense swimming can burn 500-700 calories per hour. This is the most effective exercise for weight loss and toning.”
She notes that swimming involves all the major muscle groups—from your abdomen and back muscles to your arms, legs, hips, and glutes—and “it can be your only form of fitness.” For more on swimming, see here for why one scientist says swimming is The One Exercise That’s the Closest Thing to a Fountain of Youth.
As Dr. Mosley mentioned, getting up and moving around more throughout the day is crucial to slimming down. And while many experts will preach the benefits of simply standing up from your desk and doing some stretches, Matthew Magnante, a senior editor at Fitness Volt, advises you to ramp your intensity while taking a short break: Do some jump roping. “Jumping ropes easily burns double the calories in half the time, so it is a great choice to lose weight in a sustainable manner,” he says. For more on the benefits of skipping rope, read about The Secret Side Effects of Jumping Rope More, Say Experts.
This is the simplest tip of them all: “Walk more,” says Mike Tinney, CEO and founder of Fix Health. “Just add 10 minutes or more of walking to your day, every day (and don’t change your eating habits). The walking will boost your metabolism, and the act itself will burn some calories. You can of course always walk more too, but so many people say I don’t have time to walk you can always find 10 minutes, you can put one foot in front of the other.” For more on the amazing benefits of walking, don’t miss This Major Side Effect of Walking More, According to a New Study.