Calories are almost a taboo in gym culture. We need them to survive and gain muscle, but we want any unnecessary calories gone ASAP.
How do I get rid of unwanted fat? Torch those calories.
How do I stay healthy? Light those calories up.
How about that beach physique I’ve always wanted? The calories. Burn them.
So, the question isn’t “to burn calories or not to burn calories.” Instead, it’s “how do I burn more?”
Here are five ways to boost your burn:
1. This HIIT Is Intense
I bet you’ve heard about High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Maybe you’ve even feared it, but fear no more; a proper HIIT routine will get you burning calories more efficiently. The beauty is you can do them anywhere — with minimal to no equipment — and knock out your daily workout in a flash. Who wants to work out for an hour anymore?
Basically, for less than 30 minutes, you alternate between giving an exercise 100% of your effort — for a certain length of time or number of reps — and taking short rests in between each exercise. Most efficiently, a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio.
Here’s a basic HIIT routine courtesy of DailyBurn.com:
Three rounds, 45 secs work, 15 seconds rest:
- Tricep Dips
- Side Lunges
It’s simple, but it’s not easy, and that’s the point. The intensity is what matters, not the duration.
Around and Around You Go
Where HIIT pushes you to your limit in short, sprint-like bursts, circuit training practices endurance by switching up muscle groups with no rest in between. Once you start, you do as many of each exercise as you can in the allotted time, then move on.
A basic 20-minute circuit training routine from Military.com:
- Bench press or pushups (1 minute)
- Squats (1 minute)
- Pullups or pulldowns (1 minute)
- Treadmill (3 minutes)
- Military press – (1 minute)
- Lunges – (1 minute each leg)
- Bicep curls – (1 minute)
- Bike or jog (3 minutes)
- Tricep extensions.(1 minute)
- Leg ext or weighted squats (1 minute)
- Leg curls or weighted lunges (1 minute)
- Situps (2 minutes)
- Crunches (2 minutes)
You can tailor circuit training routines to your own style, exercises and needs. The key is you just keep going.
More than just a reason to get out of bed in the morning or a tool for completing last minute papers, coffee — or more importantly caffeine — has been shown to enhance physical performance.
Ingesting caffeine before your workout can not only increase your metabolism, but it alters your perception of effort by blocking your adenosine receptors (aka the hormone that tells you you’re getting tired), which means you can work out more without feeling like you are.
I’m sure Starbucks is ecstatic about this information, but we’re not talking about those overly-sugary concoctions (which just becomes fat).
A study of trained cyclists found that ingesting 330mg of caffeine in black coffee 60 minutes before exercise allowed them to ride about 15 minutes longer before becoming exhausted.
Just be sure to plan your coffee intake and exercise to coincide with the effects of caffeine on your digestive system. Or pack some TP for your bike ride.
Remember when I mentioned Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)? Well, it applies to lifting too. That means you’ll feel the metabolic burn up to two hours after your workout is over. Not only does lifting weights build muscle, but it counts as high-intensity cardio as well.
Just like HIIT, though, you need to really push yourself. We’re talking at least 80% of your one-rep max. Sets with two to six reps and enough rest (a few minutes) in between to give it the same intensity the next round.
Because you’re using calories to send oxygen and nutrients to those aching muscles, targeting larger muscle groups gives you even more benefit. That means quads and hamstrings are your friends. Don’t skip leg day.
Pump Up The Jams
Music and exercise go together like peanut butter and jam (Ha!).
While a lot of people use music as a motivator, some of those same people scoff at the idea of a dance workout. Don’t be a square, man. Just dance! It burns calories and leaves you with a smile on your face.
It’s not Sweatin’ To The Oldies anymore; it’s high energy dance moves pulled from hip-hop, salsa, ballet, and other badass dance disciplines. You might even learn a move or two you can pull out next time you’re on the dance floor.
Talk about benefits!