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Exercise & fitness advice

Following a home exercise programme can help you lose weight just as effectively as joining the gym, as long as you devise a balanced fitness routine - and stick to it (see some of our previous pages for ideas). Why not also consider buying your own dumbbells or a small bench to help you stay motivated.

There are four key areas to cover in your home exercise routine: cardiovascular training, resistance training, core training, and flexibility work.

Cardiovascular

One of the simplest forms of home exercise is walking. This basic activity is often overlooked in favour of more exotic fitness pursuits, but walking is an excellent way to increase your energy and fitness levels, and start burning fat. If you're just starting your fitness programme, then build up gradually starting with daily five or ten minute walks.

If you're already at an advanced level of fitness then other cardiovascular options include power walking, jogging, running, swimming and cycling. Short sharp bursts of aerobic work, intense enough to make you out of breath, is the most effective way to lose weight.

Resistance

Although resistance training is easiest in the gym, you don't need equipment to do it. Any action that tires out your muscles before you've performed 15 repetitions counts as resistance training. You can train at home using repetitions of the squat, and the lunge moves, for example.

Core Training

Core training works on strengthening the deep stomach and pelvic floor muscles that support the lower back. It's easy to work on this area at home by practising contracting the muscles, and you can include a swiss ball in your programme to add variety.

Flexibility Training

Engaging in a stretching routine every morning will help you maintain and develop flexibility, and also help your posture improve, by stretching muscles that have become tight.