People hit the gym for a variety of reasons. Some want to build muscle, train for competitions, just live a healthy life or maybe they want to lose weight. For those that are in the gym to shed a couple pounds, your workouts are going to look different than someone that’s working out to train for a triathlon. When weight loss is the goal, it needs to be tackled in a couple different ways. Firstly, diet changes are needed. If you’re still eating in a caloric excess, no matter what you do, you’re not going to lose weight. The second step to tackling weight loss is exercise. Exercise will help you burn calories, look better and feel better on your weight loss journey. Knowing how to work out for the most effective weight loss results can be challenging. Should you just focus on cardio? Should you pick up some weights? Here are a few tips on how to work out to lose weight.

Resistance training

Every program should prioritize resistance training when the goal is to lose weight. Not only will resistance training help you shed pounds, you’ll also retain and build muscle. When you lose weight, you don’t have any control over where the weight loss comes from. Meaning, it doesn’t come just from your fat stores. Your body will lose muscle as well.

Muscle mass is crucial and it gets harder to retain as people age. Having more muscle mass can help you achieve the look of being “toned” that many women strive for. Muscle mass also helps you burn more calories, supports your joints, regulates blood sugar levels, and keeps your body strong. Resistance training 2-5 times a week while trying to lose weight will help prevent your body from losing muscle as your weight declines.

Short rest times

While resistance training, you want to keep your rest times in the 0-90 second range. This will keep your heart rate elevated and help you burn more calories during your workout. Aim for an 8-12 repetition range per exercise with short rest times. To prevent fatigue in one muscle group, you can also do two exercises that involve different muscle groups back-to-back with minimal rest (superset) or rotate three exercises with minimal rest (circuit). Not only is this workout style a great way to burn calories, you’ll also finish with your workout more quickly! Win-win.


If you already have some experience with exercise or as you become more experienced while on your weight loss journey, incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to burn serious calories. HIIT involves intense work followed by short rest times. While there are many different variations of HIIT, a 30 second work period followed by 30 seconds rest for 12-30 minutes is a great place to start. Some favor HIIT over cardio because it places a greater demand on your muscular system than steady state cardio exercise. HIIT can also burn more calories in less time than steady state cardio which is a win for weight loss.

Schedule cardio separate from resistance training

Cardio should be done on separate days from resistance training days or after finishing resistance training, not before. You want to make sure your body isn’t already fatigued when weight training to get the maximum benefits from your workout. A couple minutes of cardio for a warm up is a good way to go but save longer bouts of steady state cardio for after weight lifting or on opposite days.

Recovery and patience

Recovery is important in every workout program. Stretching, foam rolling, walking, yoga, etc. are great ways to get some activity on your days off from the gym to help your body recover. Recovery is important for injury prevention. If you overdo it and hurt yourself, you’ll only be set back further on your weight loss journey!

Lastly and most importantly, weight loss results take time. The longer it takes the pounds to come off, the more sustainable the weight loss is. So, be patient. The reward will be so worth it. Focus on enjoying the journey and loving your body no matter what the scale says.

If you want to take the guesswork out of weight loss, Fit Focus Laconia has amazing personal trainers ready to help you succeed with your weight loss journey. Stop by the front desk and ask about a free assessment with a trainer. You’ll never regret making an investment in yourself and your health!

Sydney Vachon. NASM CPT. Personal trainer at Fit Focus Laconia