Burning more calories than you take in should be your primary goal when you’re trying to lose fat, and that usually means a combination of diet and exercise. Weight training, aerobics, and even yoga can help you in this endeavor, but you can make some small tweaks to help you maximize your calorie output.
Here are three tips for burning more calories while exercising.
Look Ma, No Hands!
Most modern pieces of cardio gym feature some sort of hand rails or platform that stands in front of you while you exercise. Picture the pulse-reading grip on an elliptical machine, the stabilizing bars at the sides of some treadmills, or the upright control panel on either of these types of equipment. Now, while each of these devices has a specific purpose — to read your heart rate, to help you mount the belt when the machine starts, to see your results — too many exercisers use them to hold their bodies up.
When you lean into a stand or hold yourself up with hand rails, you take weight off the powerful muscles of your legs, and that means you’re putting forth less effort overall, and burning fewer calories. So, make the most of your cardio and go hands-free.
Swing Your Arms
Similar to the above point, you should realize that most cardio exercises focus on the lower half of your body. That’s generally a good strategy since your legs, hips, and butt are the largesy muscles in your body and burn the most energy. That doesn’t mean your upper body can’t contribute, too, though.
To make this happen, be sure to pump your arms back and forth while running or walking, and you can even do the same on an exercise bike. For an added kick, you can try adding some small hand weights to your workouts.
Aim for High-Density Workouts
The traditional way to train with weights is to perform a set, wait two or three minutes, and then perform another set. You repeat that cycle 10-20 times in a workout, and then you’re finished. This is standard fare for progressive resistance training, and it’s built a lot of muscle over the years, but it won’t necessarily maximize calorie burn.
Rather, to amp up your energy output, you need to find methods to perform more total work in a given time frame. Maybe the simplest way to do this is to superset exercises for opposing body parts, like chest and back. So, rather than doing a set of flyes, waiting a few minutes, and then doing another set, you would alternate between flyes and dumbbell rows (for example).
Because your chest is resting while your back works, you can cut your rest time between sets in half or more. You may find that you can nearly double your total workout volume without increasing your workout length using techniques like supersets, drop sets, and rest-pause training.
Of course, any workout technique comes with the risk of injury or other problems, so check with your doctor first, before you introduce new workouts into your routine.
In general, though, if you seek to make your workouts harder, you WILL burn more calories than if you slog through half-hearted training sessions.