Many people want to lose weight, but aren't really sure how to go about exercising to achieve that goal. One of the most common ways people begin their fitness journey is to go for a run, but this isn't an exercise everyone enjoys.
Running, especially on one of our best treadmill entries, is really beneficial to cardiovascular health, but many people dread the monotony of 30 minutes or more of running. Besides, if you're just coming to fitness and you're on the heavier side, putting your joints under a lot of stress by pounding the pavement could be inadvisable. Research (opens in new tab) found that medically obese individuals were at greater risk of injury if they exceeded distances of 3km during the first week of their running program.
Instead, practicing simple, low-impact weightlifting moves might be just the ticket to weight loss you're looking for: you get to learn a new skill, lose weight, build muscle (which changes your body's fat-to-lean-mass composition ratio, furthering your weight loss goals) all at the same time. What's more, you don't have to run anywhere.
Lewis Akpata is an experienced personal trainer at top London gym FLY LDN (opens in new tab), where he teaches low-impact strength classes. He says: "People think they need to run or use a treadmill or exercise bike when they want to lose weight, which can be an off-putting thing. But low-impact moves are a great way to get people started on their fitness journey."
Akpata recommends practicing compounds movements such as squats, deadlifts and overhead presses, which will help you lose weight. "Compound movements – because you’re working so many muscle groups and moving on one or two planes of motion – can burn just as many calories, sometimes even more, than running.
"Start with hand weights, just a bar with no weight on it, or even no weights at all, just practicing the move. You’re still building a good base and burning loads of calories. People think 'I want to lose weight, I want to burn calories, but I don’t like running,'. That’s fine, you don’t have to run."
Hate running? No problem, there's plenty of alternatives even if long cardio sessions aren't your bag. Weightlifting for weight loss seems counter-intuitive, but is backed by science, as research (opens in new tab) shows resistance training can also burn fat.
If you think weight training might be for you, but the weights area at the gym is pretty intimidating, you can simply practice moves like deadlifts and overhead presses with smaller weights (or no weights at all) in the comfort of your own home. Just mimicking those weightlifting moves gets your body moving, and your feet stay firmly on the ground while you're at it, making this exercise safe for those with joint issues.
The best adjustable dumbbells are perfect for home use as you can gradually increase the resistance as you get more confident. You can check out our guide on how to deadlift with dumbbells at home here, and you can also browse our list of the best dumbbells on sale.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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