3 unconventional ways to lose weight without a gym

Posted by Dayne Hudson in Weight Loss

Estimated reading time: 5mins

3 unconventional ways to lose weight without a gym
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Depending on your goal, you might not need a gym

Let’s get something straight right away: gyms are the best for muscle growth.

You’re not going to get access to the same weights and machines in a public park with green hills.

So, if muscle growth is your goal, the gym is a must.

But if you don’t want to train with weights and want to burn calories as part of a weight loss approach, then this article is going to give you three unconventional ways to do so.

Just get outside!

Firstly, depending on how cold (or hot) it is where you live, going to the gym to get on a bike or treadmill seems counterproductive when you can enjoy the outdoors.

And a lot of people simply HATE doing it, so they don’t last and give up on their weight loss goals.

You, dear reader, are either in one of the three camps:

  1. I go to the gym to build muscle but also want to burn more calories additionally
  2. I’d rather NOT go to the gym and lift weights, but I want to burn more calories
  3. I’m looking at starting a weight loss regime and am now just reading and learning

Regardless of which camp you’re in here, I have some fascinating news for you:

We can actually burn more calories by NOT “exercising” at all.

What?

Yep. Let’s take a look:

Learn about NEAT and do it every day.

NEAT never gets spoken about enough.

NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

It refers to our daily movements that burn calories that are NOT exercise. For example:

  • Walking to the bathroom
  • Grocery shopping
  • Cleaning your living space
  • Playing with your kids
  • Gardening
  • Walking your dog
  • Walking to your next meeting
  • Taking the stairs when you can
  • Standing instead of sitting
  • Maintaining posture
  • Tapping
  • Chewing gum

These activities might not seem like "hardcore exercise."

But consider research suggests we can burn an extra 350 calories a day from NEAT activities.

Now let's put this into perspective: 30 mins of high intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to burn roughly 360 calories.

Now depending on your lifestyle, this is a huge bit of news!

Do you really want to drive to the gym (and have to park your car) to perform a 30-minute bout of exercise on a rower or bike?

Focusing on NEAT, it’s the same as going to the gym after sitting at your desk all day long.

So, make sure you’re moving around a lot, taking the stairs instead of the escalators, and generally doing things that burn more calories.

You know those people that just don’t stop “doing” things?

Vacuuming, walking around on the phone, running with the dog from one room to the next?

I know plenty, and they never seem to gain weight.

That’s because they’re always on the go.

And they’ve probably never been to a gym in their lives.

Walking your dog is a great example of NEAT.
Walking your dog is a great example of NEAT.

Play Tennis with a friend 

Try this: book some tennis courts and have a hit with a friend for one hour.

You’ll be able to catch up, have a laugh, and engage in a friendly battle.

The other benefit?

You’ll burn between 7.8 - 10.1 calories per minute.

So, an hour of tennis means you’ll torch between 468 - 606 calories.

That’s seriously impressive.

And you might find (like me) that it doesn’t feel like exercise because you’re having fun – it doesn’t feel like conventional “exercise.”

Now consider a 1.6 km run burns roughly 136 calories.

That means a 6-kilometre run burns 510 calories.

Now, if you prefer the run, go for it.

But the point is if you don’t, then don’t do it because you won’t stick to it and therefore won’t lose weight!

Even worse, why go to a gym and get on an exercise bike if you detest it?

Something like tennis might just be an activity you can enjoy and stick to long term, thus seeing better weight loss results.

And you’ll burn copious calories without even thinking about it.

Start walking and/or cycling to work

Depending on where you live, this might be hard.

But even if you can’t go all the way, you can walk or cycle to a nearby bus stop without going all the way to your destination.

Doing so allows you to burn a lot of calories daily, without having to ever go to the gym if you don’t want to!

A spare change of clothes might help, even a shower when you get to work.

But you’ll be buzzing, on a high, and it will be well worth it!

Walking to work can help you burn more calories, too.
Walking to work can help you burn more calories, too.

The bottom line on unconventional ways to lose weight

The gym is the best for muscle growth, but it’s not necessarily the best for weight loss. It might be better to focus on energy on NEAT, the calories we burn that are NOT from exercise or playing a sport like tennis that can burn up to 600 calories per hour.

Lastly, walking or cycling to work can also burn a lot of calories. We don’t need to go to the gym to walk on a treadmill or go on runs if we don’t want to. Such are three different ways to burn calories that many people might consider to be more fun! Do what you find the most pleasurable.

References:

  1. Chung N, Park MY, Kim J, Park HY, Hwang H, Lee CH, Han JS, So J, Park J, Lim K. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): a component of total daily energy expenditure. J Exerc Nutrition Biochem. 2018 Jun 30;22(2):23-30. doi: 10.20463/jenb.2018.0013. PMID: 30149423; PMCID: PMC6058072.
  2. Falcone PH, Tai CY, Carson LR, Joy JM, Mosman MM, McCann TR, Crona KP, Kim MP, Moon JR. Caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined high-intensity interval training using a hydraulic resistance system in healthy men. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Mar;29(3):779-85. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000661. PMID: 25162652.
  3. Marks B L, Galleher E W, Moore T.et al Energy balance monitoring in tennis players. Med Sci Tennis J 200388–9. 
  4. Wilkin LD, Cheryl A, Haddock BL. Energy expenditure comparison between walking and running in average fitness individuals. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Apr;26(4):1039-44. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31822e592c. PMID: 22446673.
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