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The best type of exercise depends on your body needs!
The best type of exercise for burning fat
Aerobic exercise is the only type of exercise that burns fat directly. If the target heart rate is kept towards the lower end, the exercise has a low intensity. The low intensity and longer duration often associated with exercises such as walking or swimming allows the energy system to switch into the last "gear", this is when fat burning occurs. Learn more here, burn fat
The best type of aerobic exercises are walking, swimming and rowing. In fact many more exercises can become aerobic if the level of effort is low and the duration is high. The person should also experience easy breathing as this shows sufficient oxygen uptake is delivered to the working muscle cells. Many aerobic classes can be great for burning fat as the instructor may try to keep the heart rate at a fat burning level however, the class will be full of different people with different levels of fitness. This means what may be the best type of exercise level for one person may be too high for someone less fit!
The main problem with performing aerobic exercise to burn fat is that the low intensity means less total calories are used. For example, 30 minutes of walking may only burn 250 calories but there's 3500 calories per pound of fat! It means to see best results quickly we need to exercise aerobically more often and for a longer duration.
For many overweight people with an endomorph body type aerobics may be the best exercise to start off losing fat. Endomorphs often have a slow metabolism and the excess weight further reduces fitness levels. The low fitness levels often seen in people who are overweight means the other types of exercise may be too intense and require much longer to recover.
The best type of exercise for toning muscle
Exercises such as push ups, chin ups, squat thrusts and power jumps are great for toning the specific muscles that each exercise works. These types of exercise are often classed as anaerobic exercise and tend to burn carbohydrates rather than fat. They also tend to be completed in a short time so the body struggles to switch into the fat burning gear. For these reasons they wont do much for help in losing the fat around the body however, the direct stress placed on the working muscle means they are the best to firm and tone the body quickly.
Toning a muscle results in the slight strengthening of the fibers within the exercised muscle cell. A very slight amount of growth occurs as the muscle adapts to the new level of stress. Further growth cannot occur because there are limits to the amount of intensity these types of exercise can produce. Performing more repetitions can increase the intensity but this tends to build stamina rather than more muscular growth.
Another positive point about this type of exercise is they will burn more calories per minute than aerobically based exercise. The increased effort needed with this type of exercise requires more muscle cells to become involved in each contraction. More cells working results in a greater demand for energy. The downside to this is its much harder to keep this level of effort up for a long time.
The best type of exercise for reducing fat and toning muscle
Perhaps the best type of exercise for achieving both objectives is weight training.* Weight training is classically anaerobic, any exercise using a decent amount of weight will burn mostly carbohydrates. The intensity involved quickly tones and builds muscle. Also because extra lean weight increases the metabolism much more fat can be burned at rest quickly reducing the amount of fat within months rather than years. Weight training helps burn the fat indirectly so we gain the best of both worlds. This is the reason why many bodybuilders can consume tons of calories and still maintain a low fat percentage.