Two boot camp classes a week will aid weight loss and allow plenty of recovery time.
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The high-intensity, interval-based combination of calisthenics, cardio and strength training you'll find in boot camp classes lets you torch lots of calories, build muscular strength and endurance, and boost your cardiovascular capacity - all of which pack a number of benefits, from increased mood to lower risk of injury and disease. But even boot camps aren't a magic pill for instant weight loss, and they're so intense that, as a general rule, you should only do two or three per week.
Boot camp classes are high intensity. Limit your participation to two or three days per week to burn calories while helping to prevent overtraining.
Get Adequate Rest
Because the strength training components of boot camp classes tend to be very intense, your body needs at least a day of rest between workouts. For seasoned boot camp participants, that can translate to doing up to three boot camps per week, with a rest day or light workout between each. But for many exercises, and especially for beginners, two boot camps per week is a more reasonable goal.
Not sure how frequently to do a boot camp? Let muscle soreness be your goal. If you don't even experience mild muscle soreness in the days following your workouts, you can probably stand to increase the intensity. If you find that you're still quite sore when it's time for the next boot camp, that's a sign you should either decrease the intensity or space the boot camps further apart. Either way, make sure you take at least one full rest day for your muscles to recover from the strength-training component.
Balance the Calorie Equation
As beneficial as a well-run boot camp can be for your body, it's not a guarantee of weight loss. To lose weight, you need to balance your workouts (including boot camps) against nutrition. If you burn more calories than you take in, you'll drop pounds. This "extra" calorie burn is known as a calorie deficit, and it's proof that small choices can make big differences over time.
For example: If you have a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, that adds up to 3,500 calories - the rough equivalent of a pound of body fat - per week. Keep that up for a year, and you're looking at about 52 pounds lost. Meanwhile, a more modest calorie deficit of 200 calories per day would work out to about 21 pounds lost per year. And a calorie surplus of just 100 calories per day would work out to about 10 pounds gained. As you can see, finding the right balance between nutrition and your workouts - including boot camps - is the key to weight loss.
Develop Your Weight Loss Strategy
To start your plan for weight loss, log everything you eat and drink for at least a week. During the same time period, log your physical activity too - not just boot camps, but any other workouts as well, from morning bike rides to evening strolls. Then compare the two numbers: If you're burning more calories than you take in, you're on track for weight loss. If you're taking in more calories than you burn, it's time to fine-tune your nutrition.
The daily calorie intake recommended in the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 is 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day for adult women and 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day for adult men, depending on your body weight and activity level. If you're consuming more, it's definitely time for some tweaking.
Not sure where to start adjusting your diet? Those dietary guidelines pack a host of helpful suggestions. One key point is to keep your fat intake below about 30 percent of your daily calories; another is to focus on nutrient-rich, natural foods instead of processed foods. If it grew on a plant and is brightly colored, it's pretty much guaranteed to give you a boost toward your weight loss goals.
Calisthenics-intensive workouts like boot camps can burn anywhere from 270 to an astonishing 710 calories in an hour, depending on your body weight and how intensely you work out. Be honest when you gauge your workout intensity. If you work out lightly but calculate your calorie burn as if it were an intense workout, the evidence will show in your waistline.
Take Care of Yourself
What should you be doing with that day of rest between boot camps? That's a great time to focus on other elements of self-care that can affect your weight loss, from staying hydrated to prepping healthy meals and getting some high-quality sleep.
You can also do light cardiovascular workouts to aid in recovering from the previous day's exercises; cross-train with workouts that stress different muscles than you just worked, or enjoy stretching, Epsom salt baths, and even massages to help reduce soreness from the prior day's workout.