We encourage all types of fitness, for more reasons than just weight loss. While weight loss is an awesome side effect of working out and living a healthier lifestyle, exercise can benefit your brain, your mood, your sleep, and your overall health, too!
However, if you're focusing on dropping pounds, are there types of exercises you should flat-out avoid? We asked certified personal trainer John Rowley — International Sports Science Association (ISSA) director of wellness and founder of UX3 Nutrition — for his opinion on the matter. While we still encourage anyone to give these workouts a shot (in fact, we love all of them!), these four may not give you the results you're looking for if weight loss is your top priority.
- CrossFit: "CrossFit is number one on the hit list," Rowley said in an email. "The risk-to-results ratio just isn't there." If you're just beginning your weight-loss journey, you likely won't have the strength to get an effective workout without injuring yourself. "It's very popular, and I can see how fun and challenging it is," he noted. "But the way the exercises are done is very dangerous, especially for someone not in tiptop shape."
- Yoga: Rowley explained that yoga "has a lot of benefits, but losing weight is not one of them." Although you'll gain strength and tone up, if you're aiming to shed pounds, "you want to work as much of your body as possible to lose weight and to stimulate your metabolism," and Rowley said yoga is not the most effective way to do so.
- Indoor Cycling: While indoor cycling classes are great for exercise veterans, Rowley said, "they can get out of control as well," and the format of the classes can put you at risk for injury. "The rooms can get too hot, the movements can be too aggressive for some, and any vigorous exercise will make you hungry." More on that hunger in the next point . . .
- Cardio-Only Routines: Rowley said these should be avoided if your only goal is weight loss. Why? The munchies. "Cardio will help burn calories but can often make you hungry, leading to excessive calorie-consuming after workouts," putting you at a higher risk for undoing your progress. Additionally, if you're only doing cardio and not balancing with strength training, it can lead to muscle loss. "The loss of muscle destroys your metabolism; if you are going to do cardio, do it in conjunction with a well thought-out weight training workout."
Again, we love (and do) each of these workouts — and you absolutely can lose weight doing any of them. But if your number one goal is weight loss, Rowley warned, you might want to reprioritize your workout schedule.
So what should you do? "The only way for lasting, healthy weight loss that will change your body composition is through resistance training," Rowley said. "Lifting weights stimulates your muscles; your muscles burn calories even when you are eating and resting." We encourage you to be open to all types of workouts — get comfortable with movement of all types! But start with a good, healthy balance of strength training (as recommended by this trainer) and a bit of cardio to help build up your endurance so you can keep shedding pounds and crush your goals.