Looking to tweak your workout so you can burn more calories and fat? Try out some of these suggestions:
1. Workout first thing in the morning
There’s plenty of research showing that people who workout first thing in the morning are the most successful at losing weight and keeping it off. It’s all about developing healthy habits and getting this healthy activity done right away means you can check it off your to-do list. The longer you put it off in your day, the more likely it will not get done. Besides, starting your day with exercise will give you an energy boost for the entire day and help you focus better at work or school.
2. Reverse your workout
If you usually start your workout with cardio and then hit the weights, try flip-flopping the order and lift the heavy stuff first. It forces you out of your comfort zone by making you focus more on each activity. After completing your sets, then hit the bike, elliptical, or treadmill, which can help keep you more flexible and prevent soreness by flushing out any lactic acid build-up.
3. Try Intervals
Intervals are getting a lot of press these day – because it works! When your cardio workouts are done at a steady pace for the duration of your workout, it’s great for your heart, but you become so well-trained at it that you end up burning less calories over time. Throw in some high-intensity intervals (30-60 seconds) every 1-3 minutes during your workout and you challenge your heart to work harder and teach your body to burn more calories, and to tap into more body fat as a source of fuel. If you’re new to intervals, start slowly by incorporating 30 second bursts followed by a 2 minute recovery; repeat 3-4 times during your workout. As you become more trained, you can increase the number of intervals and play with the duration of each interval. Include interval workouts 2-3 times a week on non-consecutive days.
Plyometrics are similar to intervals in that they require big bursts of energy to complete the move. Adding plyos to your workout program can increase your power and speed. You use your body weight and gravity to load the muscle before contraction. The forces you generate are much larger than could be safely accomplished using conventional resistance (weight) exercises. It is true these forces only exist for a brief amount of time, but they still stress the muscle which is the point. A classic example of plyometric exercises are squat jumps, push-up with a clap in-between each push up, and zig zag jumps over a rope. To learn more, check out http://www.weightsnet.com/Docs/plyometrics.html
5. Take a mid-day break
It’s the middle of the day and your energy level is starting to lag. The vending machine is calling your name. Is it time to artificially boost yourself with more coffee and some cookies? Not today! Grab a buddy (if you can) and get outside for a 15 minute walk. Not only will you burn calories, but the re-energizing power of fresh oxygen to the brain will have you coming back to the office more refreshed and ready to work. Just remember to bring a healthy snack from home to follow that walk.
6. Stretch it out
Two of the best times to stretch each day are immediately after your workout and before bed. And yes, stretching does burn calories. Not only does regular stretching decrease muscle soreness, it also increases your flexibility, and can promote a more restful sleep. It doesn’t have to take a long time to do a full-body stretch – about 15 minutes should do. Just make sure to hold each stretch for 30 seconds; no bouncing allowed. Also, do not stretch to the point of physical pain, only to the point of tightness, and remember to BREATHE!
7. Don’t forget anything
One of the biggest deterrents to not exercising is forgetting something, like your shoes, exercise bra, or a water bottle. Make sure this doesn’t happen by getting everything ready at night. Lay out all of your workout clothes and gear in plain sight or pack it all up into a gym bag and put it into your car before you hit the sheets. Nothing forgotten equals no excuses!