You dedicated SIFers are a busy bunch. You’ve got better things to do than spend hours upon hours working out. I get that. I’m willing to bet most of you aren’t professional athletes whose sole purpose in life is to workout multiple hours a day so you are able to function as a living, breathing, machine. I’m guessing you’d just like to drop a few pounds of body fat, add a little muscle in the right places, tighten up, and fit into those pants or dress you haven’t worn since 2003. Am I right?
By now we should know that slimming down, i.e. cutting body fat, is all about burning those little bastards known as excess calories. Excess calories are found on your hips. They’re found on your stomach. They’re even found on the inside of your thighs…imagine that! Your body stores excess calories as fat when you have a surplus. Quick aside; eating sugary cereal before bed, drinking soda, and consuming deep-fried foods is a pretty good way to ensure a surplus, in case anyone was wondering.
We should also know by now, there is no such thing as spot toning. Doing tons of crunches isn’t going to make you lose your stomach fat. The best way to burn this excess fat is to maximize your caloric burn during each workout. The following workouts are some of the very best at maximizing your caloric burn. Sure, you could burn 800 calories chugging along at one pace on the elliptical trainer. Any idea how long that would take you? Just under 2 hours. Anyone have the time (or patience) for that? Didn’t think so.
The following workouts maximize your caloric burn in one hour or LESS. These are designed to get you in and out FAST. One last point that needs to be made before I start getting comments telling me I’m an idiot; calories burned is not an exact measurement. It varies on your age, body weight, heart rate, physiological make up, etc. To calculate your own caloric expenditure, I find the following formulas from the Journal of Sports Science to be quite accurate:
Women: Calories = [(0.074 x Age) + (0.4472 x Heart Rate) -- (0.05741 x Weight) -- 20.4022] x Time / 4.184. Men: Calories = [(0.2017 x Age) + (0.6309 x Heart Rate) -- (0.09036 x Weight) -- 55.0969] x Time / 4.184.
- Treadmill Intervals – We’ve posted about treadmill intervals before. By changing speeds, inclines, and the manner in which you run (forward/backward) your body is going to be pushed to the max. By changing speeds and inclines, your body cannot adapt and heart rate will thus steadily rise. Mix in all out sprints here and there to really push yourself into the 80-90% max heart rate zone. Try out our treadmill of terror workout to make 800 calories disappear in no time.
- Hill Sprints – No gym or equipment required for this one. Find yourself a nice big hill (ideally at least 100 feet of clear space to run up). Sprint all the way up. Once at the top, you’ll perform 10 reps of a variety of exercises. Some total body, high caloric burn exercises would include squat jumps, squat twists, burpees, 180 planks, or push up jacks. Pick a variety of exercises and go for 10 reps at the top of each hill sprint. Run back down the hill, rest for 10 seconds, then sprint right back up. Perform this for 45 minutes and start kissing that stomach fat goodbye.
- Swim – Swimming is the ultimate total body workout. You’re using almost every muscle in your body which will help tone and lean you out, while burning massive calories. Alternate between freestyle and butterfly stroke, with breast stroke here and there when you need a little break. Just 45 minutes in the pool will easily burn 800 excess calories just itching to be stored as fat.
- Boxing Workouts – You ever seen a boxer? These guys (and girls) are RIPPED. They get this way by virtue of their training methods. Try this out: Get in front of a heavy bag and punch, kick, and/or strike the bag non-stop for 2 minutes. Take a 30 second break. Repeat 11 more times. Next, grab a jump rope and get jumping for 45 seconds, then take a 30 second break. Repeat this format a total of 20 times. Congrats, you’ve just trained like a lean, mean, fighting machine, and will no doubt be looking like one soon enough.
- Cycling Sprints – Cycling is fantastic for building the muscles in your legs and butt (who doesn’t want a great butt?) while completely taxing your cardiovascular system. This strenuous workout increases your heart rate steadily which requires loads of energy, i.e. calories. Aim to cycle in the 16-19 mph range to burn almost 1,000 calories per hour. To keep things interesting, try doing 60 second all-out sprints every couple of minutes to spike your heart rate and really push yourself to the max.
- Compound Power Workout – By combining heavy compound lifts like deadlifts, squats, lat pull downs, wide grip pull ups, etc with intense bouts of cardio (instead of just standing around catching your breath after each set), you do two important things. First, you burn a ton of calories during your workout by not allowing your body a full rest. More importantly however, you effectively bump your EPOC, which results in a phenomenon that will have you burning massive amounts of calories AFTER you’re finished working out (read about EPOC here). This is a great way to add serious muscle but not sacrifice your caloric burn; two birds, one effective 60 minute or less workout.
- Row it Out – A good, solid rowing workout can easily have you burning 800 to 1,000 calories in an hours worth of work. Remember to push yourself and keep intensity high during the workout. If you feel you are getting tired, try using HIIT. Row all out for 30 seconds, then back off for 1 minute. Repeat this cycle to keep your body guessing what is coming next, and your heart rate elevated. Remember, alternating your pace is more effective than chugging along at a moderate, but static, pace.
- Cardio/Weight Classes – These classes combine aerobic movements with dumbbells, barbells, or other weighted pieces of equipment. These type of classes are a fantastic total body workout because they effectively work your muscles, as well as cardiovascular system. At Share It Fitness, we’ve got tons of these type of routines. Check out our Power Cardio Circuit class for an idea of what you’ll be getting yourself into:
Now, lets get to the part everyone really cares about. What are the practical, real-life benefits of doing the workouts above? Surely most of you aren’t just going to go out and work out like freaks because I say so, so lets look at the science. One pound of fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories. By using any of the 8 forms of exercise above, 4 times a week, you will have burnt ~3,200 calories. When you factor in the EPOC benefits (seriously, read about EPOC above!), it is safe to say that in just 4 workouts (and 3-4 hours) you will have burned at least 3,500 calories.
Again, those 3,500 burned calories are equal to one pound of burnt fat. Remember, weight loss is a result of a caloric deficit, which is the opposite of the caloric surplus we discussed above. Watch your diet, put in the work above, and you should easily lose 1-2 pounds of excess fat each week. Keep in mind, the scale may not be a true reflection of your lost body fat, as you will be adding muscle, and muscle weighs more (and looks better, may I add) than fat. Don’t worry about the scale…worry more about your waist line and physique. These are more telling indicators of how you are improving.
I once had a coach who would say, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” Same goes for getting in shape. Exercise for the sake of exercise isn’t going to change anything. Exercising in the best possible way, and for max effectiveness, will bring about visible changes in your body. You don’t need to exercise for hours upon hours to get in shape. If you’re going to put the time and effort in, maximize that time and effort and make a lasting difference in your body, both inside and out.
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