When you want to get in shape, no doubt you think about lacing up your sneaks and pounding the pavement. You may have heard that the average person torches 100 calories per mile out there, so it seems like an effective way to shed fat fast. And it is—don’t get us wrong. But there’s one little problem with banging out mile after mile…your body is programmed to get better at it. “If you run three to four days per week at the same pace on the same terrain, there’s not a lot of physical stimulation to your body, so it adapts and gets comfortable,” says Cris Dobrosielski, C.S.C.S. at Monumental Results and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. More than that, there are just other workouts that lend themselves to an even better burn, and come with bonus benefits, too. Try one of these tomorrow:
“Upper body and lower body exercises done at high levels of intensity with sufficient rest are a superior way to burn calories and improve aerobic conditioning,” says Dobrosielski. Want a quickie routine to try? Do eight to 12 reps of the following in this order: pushups, box jumps, pullups, and lunges (you’ll notice you’re alternating upper and lower body moves). Take a 10 to 15 second rest in between each move. Repeat four to five times. Try to go at a 90 percent effort throughout.
A steady-state nine or 10-minute mile pace will burn about eight to 12 calories per minute, says Dobrosielski. But if you go hard during a kettlebell workout, you can burn 12 to 15 calories per minute, he says. The great thing about kettlebells is that the moves typically require you to work your full body or fire up major muscle groups like your legs. And when you focus on keeping your heart rate up with high intensity and little rest, you burn more calories.
HOP ON A BIKE
You can apply the same principles to your spin bike as you did to your HIITworkout, says Dobrosielski. Pedal at an 85 percent intensity for 20 seconds and then recover at a 50 percent effort for 40 seconds. (For reference, 85 percent should feel really hard but not impossible, almost like you’re not sure if you can keep going…but you can. A 50 percent effort is a conversational, recovery pace.) Start with five to 10 rounds and work up to 15 to 20. Oh, and if you prefer the elliptical or stair-stepper, you can take this workout there, too.
One of the reasons you’ll hear trainers constantly tout the benefits of strength training is because it will increase muscle mass, keep your metabolism up, and improve a little thing called “after burn,” or the number of calories your body burns in the 24 to 48 hours after exercise. “Running might actually burn more calories in the moment, but strength training will burn more calories over the long term,” says Greg Johnson, C.S.C.S., of Varimax Fitness in Sacramento, California. One of the best ways to achieve this after-burn effect is to constantly mix up your workout throughout the week, he says. To boost fat loss, he recommends strength training three times a week, doing one day of sprints or a cardio class, and another day or two of a steady-state running. “This will tap into different energy processes of your body, which will change how your body reacts and recovers. That’s how you get the after burn,” says Johnson.
Rowing studios and workouts that incorporate the stationary rowing machineare hot right now for a reason: This serious cardio activity burns major calories. In fact, vigorously rowing for one minute annihilates about nine to 14 calories (for a 140-lb woman). For a beginner, Johnson recommends starting with 30 seconds of hard rowing followed by one to two minutes of rest. As you advance, progress to one minute rowing and one minute off.
Finish your weight workout and add a little something extra onto the end: a cardio burst to bump up calorie burn, says Johnson. You’ll be tired after lifting, so make sure the cardio you choose is safe—think sprints or medicine ball slamsbut not box jumps. Go for three sets of 30 seconds with a 30-second to one-minute rest in between each. Good luck!