There are many different ways to lose weight, and 20 pounds seems like the magic number. Although you have to combine diet and exercise to lose weight, I would like to focus more on the exercise aspect in this article. More precisely, the cardio exercises that help you lose weight. I will talk about each cardio exercise: stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical trainer, and others. And I will tell you the right—and the wrong—way of using them. Now, the question is how to lose 20 pounds in, let’s say, one month. Do you think it’s possible? Well, if you answered yes, you are on the right path.
Setting your goal!
As with anything in life, if you want to achieve something, you have to set a realistic goal. Let’s say you want to earn more money, and that you earn around $1,000 per month at the moment. You cannot set a goal that you want to earn $10,000 per month by the end of the year. You have to do it gradually, and set a realistic goal. If you work in a firm, you can ask for a promotion, but you will likely get something in the range of 10% to 15% promotion. When it comes to losing weight, you cannot set a goal of losing 20 pounds in one week. It can be done, but it isn’t healthy.
I asked you previously if you believe it is possible to lose 20 pounds in one month. That is possible, and if you answered yes, you have your motivation right there. Now let’s talk about other aspects.
The right diet
I’ve said this a number of times: you can’t lose weight if you’re not eating healthy. I’ve been in this situation a number of times. I’ve gone through it myself, and I’ve had friends going through the same experience. I’m sure you’ve been through this before: you’re working out really diligently, but the scale shows no results. Well, what are you doing wrong? Your diet, of course. You can’t work out and eat French fries.
Here are some basic principles you need to change your diet to get the results you want:
- Cut the carbs. There are many diets you can try nowadays, but almost every one of them starts with cutting carbs. That doesn’t mean you should eliminate carbs all together—you need to have energy for working out. Cutting the carbs means cutting out unhealthy carbs like fast food, and focusing more on healthy carbs like veggies and fruits.
- Increase your protein intake. Simply put: protein is the building block of your muscles. And yes, you will gain muscle while you are losing weight. If your goal is to lose weight, you can’t do it without gaining muscle in the process. And by gaining muscle, I don’t mean you will get all muscular like those bodybuilders. But muscles are leaner than fat, and this shrinks your waist. Now, protein: where you can source it? Start with eggs, lean protein meat like chicken and turkey, and continue with mushrooms, nuts, beans and legumes.
- Drink plenty of water. On average, you want 8 glasses of water per day. But that can vary. If your weight is more than 200 pounds, you can increase your water intake. If your weight is in the range of 120 to 140 pounds, even six glasses of water will do the trick. One secret: drink a glass of water before every meal.
The exercise regime
As I said at the beginning, I want to focus on the cardio aspect of losing 20 pounds. Remember, you also need strength training, because you do need to build some muscle. But people make a ton of mistakes in the cardio area. That’s why I would like to explain how to properly use cardio machines.
Let’s start with the most popular cardio machine. The stationary bike is like the bread and butter of cardio exercises. And there are mistakes people constantly make when working on the bike. The goal here is to fix those mistakes, allowing you to get the maximum benefits.
The first mistake is adjusting the seat too low or too high. When you set the seat too low, you put pressure on your knees. And you’ll notice your legs get tired way too fast. Setting it too high, on the other hand, puts pressure on your hips, and you compensate by rocking your hips side to side. In other words, you are exercising inefficiently.
How can you fix the seat? Well, simply: just fix it! When you sit on the seat, place your heel in the middle of the pedal. What you want is the height at which your leg is fully extended when the pedal is the lowest point of rotation. Move your foot to the correct position, and adjust the seat height.
Another mistake is cruising, not charging. You need to vary the intensity. Start slowly, but once you warm up, alternate between high intensity pedaling and recovery pedaling. Each phase lasts for 3 minutes. You can do as many repetitions as you like, but I would suggest 18 minutes is more than enough to begin with. This way, you get three repeats of each phase. If you want to add another dimension, you can stand up and pedal for one minute.
The stationary bike and the treadmill are the two cardio machines you’ll see at any gym. Let’s see what you do wrong on the treadmill, and how can you correct your mistakes.
As with the stationary bike, one of the biggest mistakes is the form you use. Some people like to bounce up and down, and do that too often. When you are on the treadmill, your head should remain level. If you bounce too much, you’ll put pressure on your joints, and you’ll be tired in no time.
How to fix it? Improve your flexibility, which will, in turn, smooth out your stride. Try to loosen up your legs as well. One exercise trick I suggest to my friends is leg swings. How does it work? You grab the handlebar and then stand on one leg. At this point, you just swing the other back, and continue doing it back and forth, all while your upper body is still.
The next mistake is in the workout. As with the stationary bike, people do long, steady and flat runs. You need to mix things up. Without mixing, there will be no results. There are two ways you can vary the routine. The first one is intensity, and the second is inclines. I suggest you take shorter, but harder, distances on the treadmill. I usually start at a 2% incline, and I try to finish at 10%.
Let’s be honest here for a moment: the rowing machine is arguably the hardest cardio machine in the gym. It is not recommended for beginners. But once you get some workouts done, you can move to the rowing machine, activate more muscles, and burn more calories.
The first mistake people make on the rowing machine is they bump their knees with their hands. The form is extremely important. Professional rowers suggest fluid motion. In other words, the stroke is a dance, and you count 1-2-3. You start by pushing on 1, then swing up on 2, and at 3, you extend your arms by drawing them to the bottom of the rib cage.
And again, I recommend medium resistance, not a long and steady slog. You don’t want to row for too long. When you start on the rowing machine, you can do three 10-minute sets with high-intensity rowing. Make sure to add at least two minutes rest in between. As you get better and stronger, you can do six sets of 10 minutes.
This machine has become part of our lifestyle, to the point people buy a trainer and work out at home. I don’t mind you working out at home, but you have to do it properly. If you want to know how to lose 20 pounds, the secret is in the right form and workout with the elliptical trainer.
When it comes to the form, many people allow momentum to do the heavy lifting. This happens when you put the resistance too low. You need to do the work with your leg muscles, and to do that, set the resistance correctly. You’ll know you have the correct form when you feel you are pushing the ramp down.
The biggest problem with the elliptical trainer that you get bored with it. The only way to fix that is by doing intervals and mixing things up. Intensity training is the best for burning calories, and it works the same way in almost every cardio routine. The trick is to do an 80-second blast after a few minutes of normal running, and then do recovery for twice as long. As you are getting stronger and better, you can reduce the recovery time to 1:1 ratio.
Standard cardio exercises
I know I focused mostly on cardio machines, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your cardio for losing 20 pounds in the normal, standard way.
The best cardio exercises are swimming, running, walking and hiking. There are rules how to do each properly, but we will leave that for another time. Sound good?