There are only so many hours in a day. Between work, chores, social events, and eating, it’s hard enough finding time to sleep, let alone exercise. But you’re on a mission to lose weight, and exercise is a big part of the weight-loss equation. Instead of giving up before you even get started, take comfort knowing there are creative ways to burn more calories while exercising. If you think you’ve got to run on the treadmill for hours on end day in and day out in order to see results, you’ve got the wrong idea. Long workouts can even be counterproductive when it comes to weight loss and improving your overall health and fitness.
If you’re tired of waiting for the weight to come off and don’t have time for long, tedious workouts, here’s what you’ve got to do.
First Things First
Start your day off with exercise. This doesn’t mean you have to wake up at the butt crack of dawn and head to the gym for an hour. Just set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual and spend the extra time doing stretches, simple bodyweight exercises, or a short workout routine on a smart phone app. An early morning workout will get your blood flowing, heart pumping, and rev your metabolism for the rest of the day.
For many people, exercising for half an hour to an hour every day just isn’t enough. A few minutes of exercise doesn’t make up for a day spent sitting around. Make it your goal to be active at regular intervals all day long. Set the alarm on your phone to go off every hour or just watch the clock. Then, move around for at least a minute. Walk lunges around the office; go up and down a flight of stairs; or do some push-ups, squats, or sit-ups. Burning calories a few minutes here and there will add up.
When you’re jogging on the treadmill or pedaling on your stationary bicycle, sometimes all you can think about is how much you want to quit. This is something a little distraction can remedy. Pop in your ear buds and listen to your favorite tunes, download an audio book to listen to, train with a friend, or watch your favorite television show. Personally, I like to cout cracks in the cement when jogging or go through the steps of washing dishes if I’m holding a plank. When your mind is focused on something else, it’s a lot easier to increase calorie burn by going farther and working harder. Plus, you may even start to look forward to your workout, as it may be the only time you get to listen to your favorite music at full volume.
The more muscle you have, the more efficient your body is at burning off fat. Muscle cells require more energy than fat cells, so your body burns more calories to support the muscle. What does this mean for you? It’s time to build more muscle through strength training. Rather than doing cardio every workout, mix things up with a few days each week of strength training. An intense weight-lifting routine can torch more calories than just running.
When it comes to burning calories and losing weight through strength training, focus on compound exercises. Bicep curls, triceps press-downs, and calf raises are isolation exercises, meaning they target just one muscle. But you can burn a lot more calories in less time by doing exercises that work more than one muscle group at a time. Examples of effective compound exercises include overhead shoulder press, burpees, mountain climbers, kettlebell swings, squats, and deadlifts.
A sixth way to make your workouts more efficient and effective is with interval training. All this means is that you alternate between bursts of high-intensity exercise and low-intensity recovery exercise. This could be walking/running, speed cycling/moderate cycling, or jump rope/squat. It’s the brief stints of high-intensity that really boost your calorie burn, but you’re also able to exercise longer because of the frequent recovery periods.
Come join me every Saturday at the studio at 10:30am for a complete compound/interval training program we call “Cross Camp” where you can group up with like minded fitness enthusiasts, challenge your body’s potential and conquer your goals. We meet at 9933 Seminole Blvd. Call me to register!