Interested in losing weight but not so interested in spending $100 a session on a personal trainer? We’ve got you covered. Yes, there are many advantages to having a trainer, but studies show there are also some downsides (1). The truth is, the workouts themselves aren’t the problem, often it’s having the discipline and motivation to stick to it.
There are tons of benefits to exercise on top of weight loss; You can decrease the risk of disease, regulate blood sugar levels, and improve mental health to name a few (2). Don’t be afraid to start on this journey solo, you’ll be impressed with what you can do!
There are plenty of exercises you can do without a trainer and even without a gym! If you’re interested in losing weight, find exercises you enjoy, and get moving.
Weight Loss At the Gym
If you do choose to hit the gym, it can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry, as long as you go in with a plan, you can make the most of your gym time and get the workouts done that will help you lose weight.
Approaching the weight section at a gym for the first time is intimidating, but you don’t need a personal trainer to get comfortable and do your thing.
Weight lifting has been shown to raise your metabolic rate which means you will continue to burn calories when you are resting (3). Furthermore, weight lifting has been proven to be a great option to preserve muscle and still lose weight. A study showed that participants lost more weight with diet and weight lifting over aerobic workouts (4).
If you include weight training in your exercise program, it’s recommended to do 8-12 sets 1-2 times per week. Free weights and machines are both proven to show results. While free weights have some added benefits, such as greater neural activation, the risk of injury is lower when using a machine (5).
Example exercises: Barbell squats, bench press, dumbbell curls.
Most gyms have a large section full of cardio equipment including treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, row machines, and more. For weight loss, it’s important to do a variety of workouts, meaning you should combine your cardio with other training to see the best results.
According to the CDC, a 154-pound person can burn 295 calories per 30 minutes of running or biking (6). Jump on the cardio machine of your choice a few times a week and give your best effort each time. It’s always better to start slow and work your way up if you’re not sure how fast to go. Even brisk walking on a treadmill can yield numerous health benefits.
Pro tip: Practice interval training for better results. You can do this by changing up the speed and time you put into your cardio. For example: Do 5 minutes of level 3 on the treadmill followed by 1 minute of level 5, and repeat. Studies show that interval training leads to increased weight loss (7).
Many gyms offer free classes where you can join a group in a guided 30 minute or hour-long exercise. A few of the best classes to join for weight loss are kickboxing and Zumba.
Studies show that kickboxers typically have a higher muscle mass and lower body fat percentage (8). If dancing is more your thing, research also shows that a 30 minute Zumba class can burn 233 calories for a 155-pound person.
It can be beneficial to join classes during your weight loss journey for a routine to follow and to meet like-minded friends who can keep you accountable.
Weight Loss at Home
Paying for a gym membership and making time to get to the gym can sometimes be barriers to your weight loss. Luckily, there are exercises for weight loss you can do at home!
Taking a walk is a simple way to burn calories and get closer to your weight loss goals. In fact, walking on a track outside has been shown to burn more calories than walking on a treadmill (9).
You might not consider yoga when putting together your weight loss plan, but think again! Experts find Yoga to be a promising way to lose and maintain weight and assist with positive behavioral changes (10). For example, a 155-pound person can burn 149 calories per 30 minutes of yoga.
Yoga at home is as simple as pulling up a free youtube video, putting on some comfortable clothes, and getting started. There are free videos online with a variety of different yoga routines. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran yogi, there’s something for you.
At home, you probably don’t have quite the arrangement of dumbbells or weight machines that the gym offers, but that’s okay! Bodyweight exercises can be done with minimal or no additional items and still leads to weight loss (11).
Examples of bodyweight exercises: Lunges, push-ups, squats, plank.
Pro tip: Use resistance bands or ankle weights to increase resistance and feel the burn!
As mentioned, the most difficult part of a weight loss journey is finding the motivation and staying accountable. Studies show that using an app for tracking and monitoring progress is crucial in weight loss goals(12). It can also be helpful to work out with a friend! Having someone to work out with can strengthen your commitment to exercise.
Furthermore, it’s not only important to have the perfect workout plan, but also the best recovery plan to maximize your training. Don’t forget to be mindful of your sleep schedule and utilize other recovery methods to aid in your body's repair and growth. Additionally, you’ll see the best outcome when your exercise is complemented with a proper diet as well(13).
Finally, don’t forget to turn to social media for motivation, work out ideas, and inspiration. There are tons of free workout plans, printable workouts, and tips and tricks shared for free across Facebook and Instagram. If you’re unsure about a workout that you see on social media, you can always ask a trusted friend or a trainer to help you out. Trust me, your fitness junkie friends will be more than happy to answer your questions!
You Can Do It!
Time to take these tips and put them to practice. With the right plan and solid commitment, you don’t need a gym or personal trainer to lose weight. Incorporate the other elements of a healthy lifestyle and you are well on your way to meeting and exceeding your weight loss goals.