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Excess Weight

Want a smaller caboose? Then move it. Physical activity increases the number of calories your body can burn, jump-starting weight-loss that comes from diet alone. Whether sweating up a storm with your personal trainer or squeezing in a TRX workout on your hotel room floor, there’s an exercise for everyone—couch potatoes and former ballerinas included.

Strength Training

Surprise: Pumping up can slim you down. Though strength training burns fewer calories per minute than cardio exercises, lifting weights can actually give you a metabolic boost lasting hours after you’ve ditched the dumbbells. Strength training helps you burn 8 to 10 calories a minute while also toning the muscles you target. For every three pounds of muscle you amass, you’ll burn 120 calories more daily. Better yet, strength training can forestall osteoporosis and build bone density, which is especially important for women as they age.

Muscles not sore after a dumbbells session? Opt for a heavier weight for a greater challenge, and don’t allow yourself to rest for more than 30 seconds between sets.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Heart-pumping, lung-busting exercises like running, swimming, biking and even jumping rope are some of the most effective ways to shed excess weight. It just takes time, energy and plenty of patience. In order to knock off a significant amount of weight—and keep it off—aim for three to four hours of cardio a week.

Keep in mind: Even though lower-intensity exercise burns a higher proportion of calories from fat than high-intensity exercise, high-intensity exercise will burn the greatest number of calories overall—and the greatest number of calories from fat.

Also, the number of calories you burn isn’t solely contingent on your speed. Your current weight plays a big role too. The heavier you are, the more calories you can burn through cardiovascular exercise. As your body becomes trimmer, you may find it increasingly difficult to shed the pounds. Experts urge you to stick with it though; running is one of the best ways to meet long-term weight loss goals. If you are overweight, remember to consult with a doctor before starting a cardiovascular exercise program.

Circuit Training

How did Blake Lively go from fit to fitter for Green Lantern? Circuit training. The fast-paced exercises keep your body guessing as you switch from one station to the next, increasing your strength, endurance and metabolism all at once. Building muscle is central to weight loss, as it boosts your body’s ability to burn calories.

Done alone or with a personal trainer, circuit training incorporates a blend of strength training machines and free weights. Using a variety of movements and frequent repetitions, circuit training allows you to target many muscle groups in one comprehensive workout.

Circuit training is aerobic too. Since there’s no need for resting in between exercises, you can tackle one muscle group as another set of muscles recovers.


If traditional weightlifting makes you yawn, try kettlebell exercises for an explosive total body workout that combines strength, cardiovascular and flexibility training. Unlike dumbbells, the majority of this cast-iron weight is centered below the handle, so expect to utilize every muscle in your core to hoist, swing and propel the heavy balls in different directions.

With the ability to burn 20 calories per minute, kettlebell exercises make for an efficient do-it-anywhere workout that can melt love handles and batwings, even if you’re short for time. The quick movements are also great for helping figure out what exercises they may or may not like. No wonder the kettlebell is such a hit among Hollywood’s hottest, including Katherine Heigl, Matthew MacConaughey and People’s most beautiful of 2011, Jennifer Lopez.


When American Idol's Jordin Sparks flaunted her 30-pound weight loss in a Twitpic seen ‘round the media world, fitness buffs everywhere wanted to know: How did she do it? The answer is Zumba. More dance party than gym class, Zumba relies on upbeat tunes to get your heart rate up.

The Zumba fitness program is a mishmash of cardio intervals and resistance training meant to optimize the number of calories burned. The moves are meant to target various muscle groups, sculpting, trimming and toning from head to toe. With lively music and a judgment-free atmosphere, Zumba zealots claim that they actually want to work out longer, thus burning more calories.

If you get bored on elliptical and treadmills, Zumba might be the perfect way to spice up your aerobic exercise routine. Got two left feet? Try a beginner’s class, designed to ease its participants into the dance motions. A class can blast 400 calories.

Tracy Anderson Method

Genetics are often blamed for excess weight, but celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson—of the famed Tracy Anderson Method—doesn’t want to hear it. Known for her “pint-sized” body, Anderson’s techniques are designed to help you lose weight fast-that is, if you stick to her strict plan.

A seven-week program will leave you lighter, leaner and healthier. All it takes to be as trim as A-listers Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Richie and the forever-young Madonna, according to the personal trainer, is doing her 90-minute workouts six days a week. And a very low-cal diet.


Anyone who says that yoga is gentle hasn’t taken a Bikram, Ashtanga, power or Vinyasa style class. Though yoga may not be the most challenging cardiovascular workout, vigorous yoga flows are capable of slimming overweight practitioners. Power, Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga all have an unmistakable aerobic element. Remember to use your ujjayi breath to keep from panting like a dog.

Jivamukti—also recognized as a hatha practice—doesn’t just improve balance, strength and flexibility; this socially responsible form of yoga also encourages its students to embrace veganism—a practice that sometimes results in unintended weight loss.

Bloated? Try Bikram yoga. Twenty-sit preset poses, performed in a 105-degree room over 90 minutes, will flush your body of water weight while slimming and stretching your muscles. Oh, and it torches up to 600 calories.

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