Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise such as brisk walking or jogging was once thought to be the best way to burn fat. But you don’t need to spend an hour at the gym working out on a treadmill or elliptical machine to trim fat off your thighs and tummy. In fact, you can burn fat and give your cardiovascular system a workout without walking or running at all – and you can do it without spending hours at the gym.
The key is to activate type 2 muscle fiber, also known as the fast-twitch muscle fibers. These muscle fibers are more metabolically active than slow-twitch fibers activated during long-distance aerobics. Activating these muscle fibers boosts levels of fat-burning hormones that create an after burn effect. This means you burn more calories for hours after your workout. Here are three types of fat-burning exercises that don’t involve aerobics.
Plyometrics are moves that stretch the muscles and contract them quickly with force and power. Some examples are jump squats where you squat and use the strength of your lower body to propel yourself into the air with force.
Another example is the “burpee“. To do this exercise, bend down, place your hands on the floor and throw your legs behind you into a plank position. Then quickly bring your legs back to the squat position and assume a standing position again. Jumping on and off a platform using two feet is another plyometric variation. These exercises are usually done for 30 seconds followed by a minute of rest and then repeated.
There are a variety of ways to do plyometrics, but what they all have in common is they cause muscles to contract with force, and they build power. They also activate type 2 muscle fibers, which turns you into a fat-burning machine. With plyometric exercises, you can get a muscle-strengthening, fat-burning workout in 20 minutes. No walking or jogging required.
Resistance training using weight machines, hand weights, resistance bands or your own body weight is one of the best ways to activate fast-twitch muscle fibers. Resistance exercises also boost the production of fat-burning hormones and give you the after burn effect.
To burn the most fat and calories during a resistance workout, focus on the larger muscle groups in the lower body. Squats holding a barbell on your shoulders are one of the best exercises for burning fat and increasing lower body strength. It also builds beautifully rounded glutes.
Lunges holding weights, push-ups and pull-ups are other resistance exercises that get the heart rate up and burn significant calories. Resistance training has other longer term fat-burning benefits. When you build lean body mass, you burn more calories even at rest since muscle tissue is more metabolically active.
High-Intensity Interval Training
If you don’t have a lot of time to spend working out, and you don’t mind sucking wind, high-intensity interval training is one of the best fat-burning exercises you can do. High-intensity interval training involves working out at a very high intensity for 30 seconds followed by a minute of active recovery. You can do this on any machine or on a track. If you do it on a track, walk for one minute and then break into an all-out sprint for 60 seconds. Follow this with a one minute walking recovery.
You can also do intervals on an indoor cycle, elliptical machine or treadmill. Work out at your maximal capacity for thirty seconds and then recover for one minute and repeat. With this type of intense workout, you only need 20 minutes to burn fat for hours afterwards. Twenty minutes of high-intensity intervals beats out an hour of jogging when it comes to fat burning. But be forewarned. It’s a tough workout that challenges your cardiovascular system and your will. Make sure you’re in good health before trying it.
The Bottom Line?
You don’t need to work out for an hour on the treadmill. Try these three fat-burning exercises instead. They’re not only challenging but a good way to get a calorie-burning workout in a short period of time.
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