Healthy weight loss comes with a long list of benefits: more energy, improved mood, increased muscular strength, elevated confidence, lowered blood pressure, and more. To lose weight takes a combination of exercise and nutrition, and since our expertise is exercise, we’ve got you covered in that department.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about weight loss, including what exercises to do, when, and how often. We’ve also included a four-week weight loss workout plan for both beginner and intermediate fitness levels to help you achieve your fitness goals, no matter your experience.

Let’s get started.

The Science Behind Weight Loss: Knowledge Is Power

Your body uses the food you eat for energy. You need this energy for active movement and for your body to maintain everyday function. Any food that isn’t used or needed for energy is stored as fat for later. In order to lose weight, you need to use more energy (energy output) than the energy you consume (energy input). This is known as calorie deficit, and it can be achieved through an increase in weekly activity and a strategic intake of healthy foods.

When preparing to enter a weight loss program, it’s important to set SMART fitness goals and understand that healthy weight loss equals one to two pounds per week. One pound is equivalent to about 3500 calories so you’ll need to be in a deficit of about 3500 calories per pound lost—but this doesn’t mean you have to consume 3500 fewer calories a week. 

Your body burns calories at rest and when you weight train, you build more lean muscle mass, which burns even more calories at rest. So the more muscle mass you have, the more you increase your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories your body burns just by existing).

Additionally, after moderate to high-intensity interval training, your body continues to burn more calories at rest. This afterburn effect is known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). With high-intensity training, you burn more calories after working out than you do after a low-intensity workout. For example, in a low-intensity cardio workout, you may burn more fat while working out, but when you stop, you stop burning calories immediately. This is why high-intensity training is the best approach for those who want to lose weight.

It should also be noted that not all pounds are created equally, and the number on the scale isn’t always the best indication of success. Instead of using the scale as a measurement for success, consider tracking your progress using measurements of your waist, hips, chest, and arms, as well as taking progress photos. 

How Do I Work Out to Lose Weight?

The best way to work out to lose weight is to use a combination of cardio exercises and strength training. You should work out four to five times per week for at least 30 minutes of moderate to high-intensity work per session. 

One of the easiest ways to schedule this into your week is to do a strength training session on one day and a cardio session the next, alternating between the two throughout the week. You can even choose to use the fifth day as an active recovery day where you do a full body stretching session or yoga class. Scheduling an active recovery day will help you not burn out, as will leaving a proper rest day in between your cardio and strength training days. 

Exercise That Targets Weight Loss

The two main forms of exercise that target weight loss are cardio and strength training. Both exercise styles need to be included in any weight loss workout plan. 

1. Cardio

Cardio exercise is any activity that raises your heart rate over a prolonged period of time. Cardio is usually done without equipment, although some exercises are best done with the use of a yoga mat. You may choose to wear a pair of ankle weights for an added challenge and to burn more calories. 

You don’t need to be a runner or own a bike to get in a good cardio workout. You can perform a number of challenging and effective cardio exercises from the comfort of your own home. (If you live in an apartment building and need to be mindful of your neighbors, maybe skip the jumping jacks and opt instead for mountain climbers to get your heart rate up.)

Examples of cardio exercises that are beneficial to include in a weight loss plan include:

  • Jump rope
  • Burpees
  • Mountain climbers
  • Jumping jacks
  • Squat jacks
  • Fast feet drills
  • Running on the spot (modifier: marching)

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2. Strength training 

Strength training is any activity that uses resistance to increase muscular strength. Strength training usually uses weights, but can be done with bodyweight only for beginners.  If you’re using weights, consider home gym essentials, such as dumbbells, resistance bands, and kettlebells.

Examples of strength training exercises that are beneficial to include in a weight loss plan include:

  • Squats and squat variations (e.g. sumo squat, pistol squat, goblet squat, etc.)
  • Lunges and lunge variations (e.g. reverse lunge, curtsy lunge, lateral lunge, etc.)
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Push-ups
  • Rows
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep kickbacks
  • Push press
  • Lateral raises
  • High pulls
  • Planks and plank variations (e.g. side plank, side plank with lateral leg lift, push-up plank, plank with twist, etc.)
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Leg lifts
  • Halos
  • Chops

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What Is a Good Workout Schedule for Losing Weight?

A good workout schedule for losing weight is one that incorporates a mixture of cardio and strength training. A realistic goal for busy adults is 15 to 45 minutes a day of activity which evens out to about 150-minutes per week.

For example, your schedule could look something like this:

  • Monday: Strength training
  • Tuesday: Cardio
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Strength training
  • Friday: Cardio
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Active recovery (stretch or yoga)

Is Exercising 30 Minutes a Day Enough to Lose Weight?

Yes, exercising for 30 minutes a day is enough to help you reach your weight loss goals if you’re following a workout plan and combining it with a healthy diet. You should include a combination of cardio and strength training as part of these 30 minutes throughout the week. 

Current recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services state that adults should perform 150-minutes of physical activity each week. If you do 30 minutes of exercise each day for five days of the week, that’s equivalent to their recommendation.

Which Exercise Burns the Most Belly Fat?

Exercises that burn the most belly fat are full-body movements that use multiple muscle groups such as squats, pushups, and rows. This is because these movements recruit the most amount of muscle to accomplish the exercise. Isolated exercises like sit-ups or bicep curls aren’t as effective at targeting belly fat as rows, for example, because rows require core strength and stability as well as the recruitment of the larger muscles in your back. 

When you build muscle in these larger groups, your body’s lean muscle mass increases. This increases your basal metabolic rate, burning more calories and fat at rest (including fat stored around your belly).

One thing to remember is that spot training isn’t possible, so doing exercises that target your core (e.g. crunches) won’t cause you to lose fat in that specific area. We recommend taking a moderate to high-intensity approach to help burn belly fat. 

This means doing aerobic activities like steady state cardio or dancing and anaerobic activities like HIIT, with intense bursts of activity with short rest periods in between. Again, focus on movements that’ll recruit large muscle groups.

4-Week Workout Plan to Lose Weight

The 4-week workout plans below are designed to get your heart and muscles pumping. Each week, you’ll do a series of five workouts: four are a mix between cardio and strength training and the fifth is a stretch class for your recovery and rest day. This plan promotes fat loss and should be carried out in conjunction with a healthy diet.

You can structure these workouts as a Monday-to-Friday routine or space them out through the week to fit your schedule. None of the exercises below need a day of rest in between so you can do them all in a row, or break them up however works best for you. As long as you get all five workouts done in a week, you’ll be on track.

Fat Loss Program for Beginners

Week 1

Week 2

  1. Day 1: 30-minute beginner Total-Body Strength class 
  2. Day 2: 15-minute beginner cardio class (e.g. a Bootcamp class)
  3. Day 3: 30-minute beginner cardio class (e.g Tabata)
  4. Day 4: 30-minute beginner  Cardio + Strength class
  5. Day 5: 15-minute beginner total body Stretch class

Week 3

Week 4 

Fat Loss Program for Intermediate/Advanced

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4 

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Healthy Mindset, Healthy Body

At the end of the day, it’s important to maintain a healthy mindset when it comes to weight loss. Be gentle with yourself and remember that everyone’s journey is different–most weight loss journeys aren’t linear. 

Weight loss is more than just fitting into a pair of jeans, it’s about building strength to be able to do more in your day-to-day life, have more energy, relieve chronic pain, feel more confident, and improve mood and mental wellbeing. Use all of these as part of your motivation, and celebrate small wins like doing more squats without fatiguing, using heavier dumbbells for an exercise, or powering through a longer workout class. These are all achievements that get you closer to your goal and shouldn’t go without acknowledgement.

Lose Weight the Right Way with lululemon Studio

lululemon Studio has thousands of workout classes designed to help you reach your weight loss goals. From cardio to weight training and everything in between, our expert trainers have put together workout classes for all fitness levels. Choose from lululemon Studio classes or those from our partners AARMY, Dog Pound, and Rumble. You’re sure to find workouts and instructors that you love from thousands of options. 

Attend group classes live, stream them on demand, or book a private, one-on-one session with a certified personal trainer to get additional pointers and tips on your technique.

Try the lululemon Studio app for 30-days free and start seeing the weight loss results you’re after.
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