I’m often asked where really overweight men and women should start when it comes to a fat-burning exercise program. My answer is probably not what you’d expect.

You see, most people think overweight people should start with long, slow cardio. But that’s a definite mistake in my book.

Men and women who are significantly overweight run a serious risk of developing an overuse injury (sore joints, inflamed tendons, pulled muscles) with a repetitive cardio program. They would be asking their out-of-shape bodies to do the same movement several thousand times per workout – a recipe for disaster.

I’ve worked with many people from age 14 to age 75 – many of them obese, including men over 300 pounds and women over 225. We always started with resistance training – because, you may be surprised to learn, 90 percent of resistance training can be done lying down. Exercises done in that position can be super-hard… but they provide the perfect blend of safety and intensity for overweight, inactive folks.

Besides, for very overweight people, the key to fat loss in the first couple of weeks is nutrition, not exercise. They will get more results from following a healthy meal plan than trying to train like an Olympian. That said, they still need to get started on an exercise program that will build them up for future training… and that’s what bodyweight resistance workouts do.

Exercises like lying hip extensions, planks, side planks, stability ball leg curls, and kneeling push-ups can all be done flat on the floor, with no pounding on the joints.

Safety first! So if you are a beginner, even if you’re not overweight, get your doctor’s approval before starting any new diet or exercise program.

[Ed. Note: Whether you’re severely overweight or just want to drop a few pounds, long, slow cardio is NOT the way to lose weight. Discover more common fat-loss myths and how to combat them with Craig’s Turbulence Training for Fat Loss system. 

And for a free online source of information, motivation, and social support to help you improve your health, lose weight, and get fit, sign up for ETR’s free natural health e-letter.]

Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men’s Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he’ll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com