This is a question that has multiple answers. How long should you exercise for to lose weight? There is the short term answer, meaning how long should you exercise per day to lose weight?
And then there is the long term answer, meaning how many months or years must you exercise for in order to lose weight?
Luckily, all of these questions are going to be answered in this article and more. You are going to find out that it is not just about time spent exercising. There are more factors that need to be taken into account before you commit
The best part about this strategy is that it is very simple to follow. Difficult to sustain, sure, but the formula is simple.
Nutrition matters more than exercise length
I had to touch on nutrition before we got back to our question, how long should you exercise for to lose weight? Here is the truth. You cannot workout hard enough to combat weight gain if your nutrition isn’t right.
But what is the correct nutrition? Do you need to eat boiled chicken, steamed broccoli, and brown rice for every meal? Not even close.
It all starts with calorie counting. Before you panic about counting calories, I just want you to realize that it’s not as terrifying as it seems.
The first thing that you are going to need to do is establish your maintenance calorie number. This is the number of calories that your body burns on any given day without gaining or losing weight.
From here, since you want to lose weight, you need to eat in a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit means that you need to eat less calories than your maintenance number. For beginners, I always suggest aiming for 500 calories under maintenance per day to start.
You want to be losing on average at least a pound per week. So if you aren’t losing a pound per week, that means that your caloric deficit is not big enough.
I cannot tell you how important a caloric deficit is for losing weight. You simply will not lose weight if you are not in a caloric deficit. That is the truth of the matter.
You can lose weight without working out as long as you are in a caloric deficit. But if you are not in a caloric deficit, then you can’t lose weight by just working out.
With that being said, I am a firm believer that nutrition matters more than exercise.
What your workout schedule should look like
Ok, so you know that you need to be at a caloric deficit if you want to lose weight. Now what should your exercise schedule look like when you are trying to lose weight?
It will come as no surprise to you that as long as you are eating in a caloric deficit, you don’t need to workout every day. In fact, working out 3-5 days per week will suffice.
Personally, I workout 4 days per week, and it is way more than enough. And what might surprise you the most is that if you are simply trying to lose weight, your workouts might be very short.
I always recommend to people that are trying to lose weight to learn about high intensity interval training, or HIIT for short. HIIT is considered the best fat burning workout category of all time.
And it works only if you get your heart rate to 90% of your max. Learn how to calculate your maximum heart rate for exercise, and you can use that as your bench mark.
Our app has 10 built-in HIIT workouts that start at 15 minutes each but can be adjusted.
Don’t let the short timeframe fool you. If you are truly hitting 90% of your max heart rate for each set, you are going to burn hundreds of calories in those 15 minutes.
If you want to simultaneously lose weight and work on muscle definition, you are going to want to do a combination of HIIT workouts and strength training. Our app has plenty of FREE strength training plans, but you can check out our beginner bodybuilding routine for mass to get started.
At the end of the day, you want to make sure that you are both in a caloric deficit AND working out. If you can combine both of these things together, the fat will shed off your body.
Long term weight loss goals
You already know the first 2 parts of this 3 part formula. If you want to lose weight, you must eat at a caloric deficit and exercise 3-5 days per week. But how long should you exercise for to lose weight?
Now we are on to the long term answers. When you commit to losing weight, you are committing to a lifestyle change and a long term commitment.
Depending on how far overweight you are, that is going to determine how much you have to lose and how long you should go for.
I mentioned earlier that losing a pound per week is a great goal, and should be the benchmark as the minimum weight loss goal. But there is definitely room for losing significantly more weight per week depending on how overweight you currently are.
For example, if you are 150 pounds overweight, it is not uncommon to lose 2-3 pounds per week for the first few months. But do not get discouraged when this changes. After a while, your weight loss rate will decrease as you become closer to your ideal weight, so be prepared.
For the sake of simple calculations, let’s just assume that you can easily maintain weight loss of 1 pound per week. With that being said, that means you can lose 52 pounds per year. And that is at the bare minimum.
So how much weight do you have to lose? 20 pounds? 50 pounds? 100 pounds? Simply plug in your ideal weight loss goal into the formula and there you have it.
Really what it comes down to is that this lifestyle takes time and commitment. It isn’t easy by any means, but it is a simple formula.
Main Point: How long should you exercise for to lose weight?
As you can see, there really isn’t a simple answer to our question, how long should you exercise for to lose weight? There are multiple layers to the answer, and if you made it this far, you are ready to supercharge your results.
Most people try to do the bare minimum when it comes to losing weight, and they wonder why their results are lagging behind. Ultimately, they end up giving up because they aren’t seeing fast enough results.
Learn how to set realistic fitness goals for beginners before you even embark on this journey. I personally think that one of the main reasons that so many people fail is because their expectations are set way too high.
The fitness industry promotes ideas that make you think that you can look like a celebrity in 3 months. And then when the results don’t happen in 3 months, people get frustrated. Don’t let that be you.
To tell you the truth, it took me 3 years to get a body that I was proud of. And I still love working out, eating right, and trying to make small tweaks to my body.
When it comes down to it, we are all here to better ourselves. The stuff that I outlined in this article does work. It worked for me, and it has worked for countless others.
Stop looking for the next quick fix. Step up and do what works.