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A good starting point: Liam Rosen's "Beginners' Health & Fitness Guide": http://liamrosen.com/fitness.html

If you want to understand what's what in fat loss, Alwyn Cosgrove's "Hierarchy of Fat Loss": http://alwyncosgrove.com/2010/01/hierarchy-of-fat-loss/

TL;DR: fat loss is about diet. Yes, diet. Strength training builds/retains muscle, so do it. HIIT cardio helps some, steady state cardio a bit as well. But really, it's mostly diet.

If you want to understand more about this, you could look into starvation literature. On a reduced-calorie-only approach, about 25% of your weight loss comes not from fat but muscle. Which is among the key reasons diet-only approaches fail. Among exercises, it's strength training which builds muscle, not cardio, which is why a running-only exercise approach won't get you ripped either.

This is also a major reason why I find the emphasis on "weight" loss in both mainstream and medical literature immensely frustrating. What really matters is the relationship between two tissue types, subcutaneous fat and skeletal muscle. They're gained and lost through very different mechanisms, and play very different roles in body function. Confounding both as "weight" is an immense disservice.

For a plan putting this together, there's The New Rules of Lifting, or for the gals, The New Rules of Lifting for Women. Exercise plan, diet, lifting, cardio, a ton of info on what goes into fitness. http://www.amazon.com/New-Rules-Lifting-Maximum-Muscle/dp/15... and http://www.amazon.com/New-Rules-Lifting-Women-Goddess/dp/158...

If you want a simpler, and IMO more effective beginner's program, Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength: http://www.amazon.com/Starting-Strength-2nd-Mark-Rippetoe/dp...

That's based on a classic 5x5 lifting program. It's simple. It's effective. After the first few weeks, it's pretty brutal. But for a novice trainee there's hardly anything more effective.

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