If you truly want to start losing weight and shred the body fat then you need to thoroughly examine your level of physical activity, your diet and your workout program. In other words, you need to “check yourself before your wreck yourself.” All three of those components work together and are essential for getting in better shape.

For this article, we are going to talk about your workout programs or habits and what should be included. I want you to look in the mirror right now and ask yourself if you are incorporating weight training, cardio and flexibility into your workouts. If you are not, then I want you to promptly slap yourself in the face and get ready for a new direction in life.

Weight Training

Most of you understand that weight training can help to build strength and lean muscle. But, some of you might not be aware of the additional benefits that weight training has on your body. It can help improve your overall daily functioning and quality of life, improves bone density and increases strength in connective tissue.

In the realm of losing fat, weight training helps to burn off calories and promotes more fat-free mass. Put your thinking cap on for a second and follow along. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your BMR is. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of calories your body burns when at rest.

Think of it this way, if you turn your car on and let it idle, it burns gas at a slower rate to keep the engine running. If you take your car out on the highway and let those horses run wild, you will consume more gas. Well, improving your overall muscle mass through weight training is like taking the car out on the highway. It increases the consumption of calories which leads to weight loss, provided that you aren’t stuffing your face with Bic Macs and Snickers all day long.

Cardio

Cardio, short for cardiovascular, is the primary tool in your fat loss toolbox. Cardio training can help you burn off more calories, shred the fat and drop the extra weight in no time, provided that you train smartly and consistently. The key is to get your heart rate up, get the blood circulating through the body and start burning those calories.

Some of you are notorious for skipping cardio training. Well, those days are over! You need to do cardio not only to lose weight, but to also improve your heart health, increase metabolism, aid in reducing muscle soreness from weight training and to prevent health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio for 5 days per week. This is a great benchmark to shoot for when beginning a new cardio program.

Flexibility

I’m sure that some of you are looking at the word “flexibility” and cursing at your computer screen. As the great Archie Bunker would always say to his wife Edith “stifle yourself.” Flexibility plays a role in losing weight, and it’s typically one that’s often overlooked or ignored.

First, let’s remind you of the overall benefits to stretching: it helps to prevent injuries, can aid in improving balance or coordination, is a great way to unwind or meditate, increases blood circulation, improves range of motion and relieves muscle soreness.

Sometimes, life can get hectic and you are unable to get to the gym or do some cardio. A decent stretching routine can be a nice substitute for not exercising at all. Additionally, stretching before a meal can help some of you feel less hungry; thus acting like a magical appetite suppressant.  Stretching also aids in relieving or managing stress. And, we all know how some of you can go off the rails and binge eat or make terrible food choices when stressed out.

Work Smarter and Harder

There’s a slogan within the fitness industry that says “work smarter not harder.” Well, for some of you, smarter and harder are a must. It’s clear that some of you aren’t doing enough which is why you are out of shape and carrying that extra baggage of fat. So, working out harder is a must. However, let’s make sure you put that hard work to good use by implementing weights, cardio and flexibility to your exercise routine.

Resources

Active.com: The benefits of Weight Training http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/5-benefits-of-weight-training

Heart.org: Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp#.WMgaxEbyuUk