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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown

Janet Aylott

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant


What is the best exercise to tone and lose weight?

Hi, I am off on holiday in 8 weeks time, I currently go to the gym, but would love some advice on what the best exercise be it at the gym or other exercise to have a general overall tone up (legs, arms & tum mainly) and to help weight lose? Thank You


Our expert says...


The simple answer is that the ‘best’ exercise is the one done on a consistent basis and with healthy nutritional habits. To burn fat you have to burn calories and all the cardiovascular machines and resistance exercises in a gym do that and the extent to which each does this is down to the person on a given machine and how much effort they put in. All work the body in different movement patterns but all have the same potential for being the best at burning body fat.

An ideal situation would be to actually cross-train (combine aerobic work and resistance work in a circuit style format) and optimise the differences between them by alternating between machines and spending time on some/all of them. Variety is underestimated and research clearly highlights how keeping workouts different accelerates beneficial results due to the constant demand to adapt to change placed on the body. I would suggest choosing machines you enjoy (or favour over other machines) and vary the duration and intensity you give to that machine. An example of two different aerobic-specific workouts could be:

Workout 1:

X-trainer 10minutes easy-moderate

Treadmill 16-20 minutes interval: 3min moderate: 1min hard effort

Bike 8minutes moderate-easy

= 38minutes total workout time

Workout 2

Bike: 6 minutes

Rower: 6 minutes

X-trainer: 6minutes

= Repeat bike-rower-x-trainer circuit 6 minutes on each X 2 = 36minutes total workout time

If you have more time to train then do it but remember that higher intensity workouts (i.e. treadmill intervals) will not be able to be sustained for as long a period and do not need to be either!

Obviously cardiovascular exercise is well-documented for its benefits in assisting weight loss through calorie burning and subsequent fat reduction but it isn’t the only way to achieve this, (though it is an easy and common method). As I mentioned your ‘best’ approach would be to focus a lot of strength-endurance exercise on the lower body and core (i.e. bodyweight circuits for the legs e.g. squats, lunges) together with a sensible, slow approach to weight loss with nutritional calorie control.

For strength (resistance) training, you could involve machines, bodyweight, cables, barbells, free weights and tubing, so lots of options. Bodyweight is also a fantastic option: for the hips/legs area, exercises like shoulder bridge, lunges and squats are excellent options and descriptions of these can be found within the legs-specific and core-specific home program articles on our website. The ‘core’ exercises within the aforementioned core-specific article are also the best options to help tone your stomach.

The best results will come from a consistently done routine for the stomach and leg/hip areas 2-3 times a week. If this can be combined with different aerobic activities then it would be ideal for achieving a noticeable improvement in shape and tone in time for your holiday!

Hope this helps


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