10 of the Best Workouts for Losing the Last 10 Pounds from 10 of the Best Workouts for Losing the Last 10 Pounds
10 of the Best Workouts for Losing the Last 10 Pounds
So, you’ve come a long way on your weight loss journey, but now, whether it’s five or 10 pounds you’re really struggling to lose that last little bit of weight. Don’t worry, you’re totally not alone. Nearly every expert we spoke with agreed: losing those last few pounds is tough for pretty much everyone, and unfortunately, sometimes even more so for women.
“I like to refer to the last 10 as ‘vanity weight,’” says Cassie Piasecki, a certified personal trainer and indoor cycling and Pilates instructor. “You've already gotten off a big chunk and you are healthier for it, but those last 10 pounds will really make you look awesome.”
Mostly, they’re so darn hard to lose because you’re body doesn’t think you need to lose anything more. If your current weight is healthy, as far as your body is concerned there’s no serious reason for you to lose that last little bit of fat. However, while it might be a little bit vain, you’re on a mission to melt it away, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to go the extra distance so you can look and feel your very best. So, what exactly do you need to do to get there?
“As a fitness professional, I advise my clients to shake things up and to sweat.... A lot,” Piasecki said. “If they've been running, I tell them to start indoor cycling. If they've been doing CrossFit, I tell them to start shadow boxing.”
She said workouts that offer a big calorie burn are always great options and that incorporating some sort of strength training is also of importance. Billy Polson, C.S.C.S. trainer and owner of DIAKADI Fitness Performance Facility in San Francisco offered some similar advice.
“Whatever workout program you have been doing for the last few weeks, months or years, switch it up to something new,” he said. “Our bodies are incredibly smart when it comes to acclimating to stimuli. Shaking things up a bit is always a great way to rattle the cage and help your body break through a plateau.”
He also emphasized the importance of strength training. Especially if you’ve only been doing cardio workouts, he said, definitely add some muscle-building strength training into your routine. And finally, both experts mentioned the importance of following a smart nutrition strategy.
“Eating with that same ‘shake things up’ philosophy can help take those 10 pounds off even faster,” Piasecki said.
Polson suggested keeping close track of your intake.
“Using the website EatingFree.com is hands down my favorite tracker for clients to use,” he said. “It allows the client to not only see macronutrient levels, but it intelligently translates these groups into which food groups the client should be eating in order to make the most of his or her day.”
Now that we’ve got the main points covered, it’s time to take a look at which types of workouts are actually the best for finally blasting away those final few pounds. Here’s what the experts recommend.
Tabata is a type of high-intensity interval training. A typical Tabata-style workout lasts for only four minutes, consisting of intervals that alternate between 20 seconds of high-intensity activity followed by 10 seconds of rest. This pattern is repeated for eight sets. “The workout is simple, you pick an exercise and perform it at the highest intensity for 20 seconds followed by a 10 second rest period,” explains Jamie Logie, a certified personal trainer, nutrition specialist and creator of Regained Wellness. “You repeat that cycle continuously for four minutes — eight cycles.” Logie says burpees are one of the best exercises to incorporate in a Tabata workout because they challenge the entire body in one move. “If you're just starting out, though, doing bodyweight squats or sprints on a stationary bike are great as well,” he said. “Tabata training is like a positive shock to the body that improves fitness but creates an enhanced calorie-burning effect if you've been stuck in a steady-state routine,” Logie added. For an example of a Tabata-style workout see: Get Fit Quick: Best Beach Body Workout.
Pilates and Barre Workouts
Astrid Brucker, a Pilates mat and Barre instructor at New York Sports Club agrees, losing the last 10 pounds can pose quite a challenge. “I find that Pilates and Barre conditioning exercises help a lot,” Brucker said. “Because our bodies have a set point for weight, the last several pounds can be tricky to lose. Pilates mat exercises, focusing on the side of the thigh, tone that area and slim it down. Similar to dance class exercises, the focus is toning, firming and extending the muscles for a very lean look.” Plus, she added, having better posture and more lean muscle mass —both effects of Pilates- and Barre-type workouts — will help to improve your overall body composition. See: The 15-Minute Barre Workout You Can Do at Home.
Stick to Your Current Routine, But Increase the Intensity
Switching up your workout routine is certainly an effective strategy if your aiming to scorch those final few pounds. But if you particularly enjoy what you’re currently doing (which is important for making sure you’ll stick to exercise in the long-run) then it might be a good idea to stick with what you love, just make sure you increase the intensity. “The best physical workout to achieve this goal is to continue what you are doing with a one to five percent intensity increase, depending on current the work level,” said Clint Fuqua, a certified health coach and personal trainer with over 20 years of experience. “One final note is to focus more on body fat percentage and how you look both in and out of your clothes rather than the weight on the scale, as five pounds of fat looks and feels much different that five pounds of muscle.”
Yes, cardio exercise will likely help you burn more calories, but if fat loss is your goal (especially when it comes to those last few pounds), strength training — like with free weights, resistance bands or bodyweight exercises, for example — will play an important role in helping you get there. A recent study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health highlights the importance of including both cardio and resistance training in your workout routine. The study focused on belly fat reduction specifically and found that when compared with men who increased time spent on different types of aerobic exercise (including yard work and stair climbing), the men who increased the time they spent training with weights by a similar amount (about 20 minutes a day) gained less weight in their waist. Additionally, strength training helps you build muscle, which is what’s considered “metabolically active” tissue. This simply means that it requires energy from your body in order to be maintained. So, increasing your lean muscle mass will increase your resting metabolism and as a result, will help you naturally burn more calories throughout the day.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Because it offers an incredible amount of benefits that improve both fitness and health, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become an increasingly popular workout trend. HIIT, also sometimes referred to as just “interval training,” involves alternating between periods of high- and low-intensity exercise. A typical HIIT workout lasts for about 20 to 30 minutes and usually involves a sequence of different exercises (like jumping jacks, squats, burpees and jumping rope, for example) that’s repeated a certain number of times. However you can also apply HIIT to different types of cardio workouts like running, swimming or cycling. HIIT is a great option for those aiming to lose the final few pounds because it burns a large amount of calories in a short amount of time, helps your body to continue burning calories even after you’ve finished working out, and prompts your body to build more lean muscle mass. For an example of a HIIT workout see: 20 Minute At-Home HIIT Workout.
Of course, following a regular exercise routine is an important part of any weight loss goal, but staying active outside of your workouts is not only important for your overall health, but it can also help you shed those final few pounds by increasing your overall daily calorie burn. To learn how you can embrace a more active lifestyle, see: 6 Easy Ways Walk More Every Day.
Circuit training, which involves performing a series of exercises one right after the other with little to no rest in between each, usually involves high-intensity exercises and keeps you constantly moving for a certain period of time, which means it's great for burning lots of calories in a short amount of time. Typically, a circuit workout will include 8 to 12 exercises that are performed for a specific amount of repetitions. When the entire circuit of exercises is complete, the exerciser rests for one to two minutes before repeating the circuit again three or four more times. A circuit workout most commonly consists of high-intensity aerobic exercise, but they can be organized in a variety of different ways and can include everything from weight lifting and bodyweight exercises to aerobic moves like box jumps and jumping jacks. For an example of a circuit workout see: Total-Body Blast: 20-Minute Circuit Workout.
As a form of exercise, yoga will help to improve your flexibility and it can also play a role in increasing your strength and lean muscle mass, too. And while it may not be the most intense form of activity, it involves an important component that can play a significant role in fostering your weight loss goals. Much of the weight loss advice we read today talks about exercising more and eating less or eating better (e.g. nutritious whole foods), yet we hardly ever hear about how to achieve the mindset that can help us succeed in doing so, which is surprising because these practices that are often much easier said than done. In addition to increasing your activity levels, yoga can help improve your mental awareness, which according to Beth Shaw, a fitness expert and the president and founder of YogaFit, is a helpful weight loss tool, especially for those who struggle with food cravings. “Yoga can actually help you stop food cravings, and help you achieve dietary goals,” Shaw said. “By incorporating breathing exercises, regularly practicing yoga can strengthen the mind-body connection. This establishes high levels of mental awareness, which can help you tap into the emotions involved with food cravings.”
Your Favorite Exercise
As mentioned earlier, engaging in activities that you actually enjoy is important for making sure you’ll stick to exercise in the long-run. For this reason, the “best” workout for losing the last 10 pounds and keeping them off for good is the type of workout that you’ll stay committed to. Don’t be afraid to try new activities and when you find something that really excites you and always keeps you coming back for more, make sure it stays a regular part of your workout routine.
When it comes to losing the last few pounds, Fuqua shared a final piece of advice that’s absolutely important to keep in mind. “The last five to 10 pounds are the toughest for most people to lose because they stress over it so much that they elevate cortisol levels, lose sleep and cause everything in their body to fight against the process,” he explained. “One of the best workouts is a ‘mental jog’ to enjoy the process of creating a healthy new body and the end result so it will last and not be a one day event followed by a goal-crushing binge.” In other words, don’t stress over your weight loss, embrace the process with patience and most importantly, make sure you take some “me time” to relax and recover.