Why do YOU go to the gym?
Do you work out because you know it's the best thing to do to have a healthy body? Is your time at the gym spent trying to build muscle? Are you striving to torch fat to get your body looking good? Do you spend time working on your mobility, flexibility, and functional fitness?
Whatever your reason for going to the gym, we all have one thing in common: we all want to burn calories!
Whether you spend 15 minutes doing a HIIT workout, 45 minutes cycling, or 90 minutes of resistance training, you're going to burn calories. Just standing up and walking to the kitchen will burn calories as the movement requires muscular energy (levering yourself from the chair to the feet, moving your leg muscles to walk, etc.). But HOW MANY calories you burn, well that's a different subject altogether.
If your goal is to get in shape, you want to burn as many calories as possible. The more calories you burn, the faster you'll torch that fat and reveal those glorious muscles beneath. Every workout burns a certain number of calories per hour, but we've found a few tricks to help you burn MORE calories in the same amount (or less) of time!
Here are five easy ways to seriously increase your calorie burn at the gym:
Crank Up the Intensity
High-intensity workouts burn WAY more calories than low-intensity ones!
Let's take the classic cardio workout everyone knows and loves: jogging. Say you run at the "average" jogging pace of 4 to 5 MPH. At this pace, you'll burn between 400 and 600 calories per hour (depending on your size and weight). Not too shabby, right?
Now, let's look at a classic high-intensity workout (HIIT running/sprint training). A 15-minute sprint training session will burn anywhere from 300 to 600 calories. That's roughly the same amount of calories but in ¼ of the time. Say what?
High-intensity training is a highly effective option for drastically increasing your calorie-burning. Basically, with this type of training, you push your body to its absolute limits of speed, strength, and endurance. You give it everything you've got until your heart is thundering, your muscles are burning, and your lungs are burning.
Of course, you can't sustain this level of activity for long (30 to 60 seconds), so you have to slow down and give yourself a chance to "come down" or rest. Your body needs about 90 to 120 seconds to recover from the high-intensity pace before you can do it again.
This switching between high and low-intensity exercise is called "High-Intensity Interval Training", or HIIT. During the periods when you're going at full speed, your body is burning through those calories at blazing speed. During the recovery periods, your body is scrambling to get energy from wherever it can. Most of the time, it has to tap into fat stores as well as the glucose in your body. This means that HIIT burns A LOT of calories from fat as well as blood sugar.
But the calorie burn doesn't stop just because you're not working out! According to one study, you can burn up to 200 calories extra in a single day thanks to HIIT training. Even after just 2.5 minutes of this high-intensity training, the calorie burning continues.
To seriously up the calorie expenditure of your workouts, turn up the intensity. Mix in a few bouts of high-intensity interval training whether you're lifting weights, doing a bodyweight workout, or running/cycling. No matter what you're doing, the periods of high intensity will torch calories like nothing else can! You'll see serious results for your efforts--both regarding calories burned and weight/fat loss.
Note: High-intensity interval training is very hard on your joints, muscles, and bones. DO NOT attempt to perform HIIT unless you have prior resistance training, or are working with a trainer. You're more likely to injure yourself if you don't know how to do it right.
Bang Out a Few Circuits
Circuit training is one of the best ways to make your workouts more efficient, as well as burn more calories.
Your basic resistance training/weight lifting workout burns a lot of calories, anywhere from 600 to 900 calories per hour. BUT (and this is a Kardashian-sized "but") you can increase the amount of calories burned with one simple trick: don't stop moving.
Did you know that you can burn upwards of 1000 calories per hour by keeping your heart rate above 125 BPM? That's a pretty exhausting workout, but it's an amazing way to torch serious fat through resistance training.
Let's take basic training sessions: Chest Day. You do one set of Bench Press (using a lot of weight and a good amount of reps), but you have to give your chest muscles a chance to rest between sets--at least 30 to 90 seconds. But during that time, your heart rate, which skyrocketed during your set, drops back down to a lower level. That rest allows your heart rate to drop, meaning you burn fewer calories.
Now, let's take a look at a basic Circuit Training routine. You start with a Bench Press, move on to Pull-Ups, and finish the circuit with a set of Squats. After a 30-second rest, you do it all over again.
Notice the difference? You didn't rest between each set, but only at the end of the circuit.
The fact that you worked different muscles with each exercise means you don't need to rest between movements. You can get through the entire circuit without pausing. This will keep your heart rate above that 125 BPM-mark, helping you burn those 1,000 calories per hour.
You can work out every muscle on the same day, or mix and match the movements however you want. All that matters is that the Circuit Routine keeps you going from exercise to exercise, never letting your heart rate drop and keeping your body torching those calories.
Have a Shot of Caffeine
What is life without coffee? Bland and boring, that's what!
Image Source: Twin City Adventure Boot Camp
Coffee is the best part of our day; for many of us, that delicious smell of freshly percolated coffee is the only thing getting us out of bed. It's magic in every sip, and a kick in the pants to get you on your way.
But did you know that coffee is one of the best additions to your workout? Well, more specifically, CAFFEINE.
Caffeine is a stimulant that blocks your brain's adenosine receptors. Adenosine is the chemical that tells your brain that it's tired, so blocking the chemical stops your brain from registering those sensations of fatigue. Ingesting caffeine before a workout will help to reduce fatigue during your workout, ensuring that you can go harder and train longer.
And the benefits don't stop there!
Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system, kicking that "fight or flight" response into overdrive. This causes your body to produce more adrenaline, which tells your body it needs more energy. Where does it get that energy from? Stored fat, of course!
Caffeine helps to activate stored fat cells, turning them into a form that can be transported via your blood to your liver, where they are transformed into glycogen to burn as energy. When you drink coffee before a workout, you encourage your body to burn more energy from fat instead of just blood sugar. The result: better fat-burning in every workout.
Add More Weight
The more weight you lift, the more calories you burn. Sound too good to be true?
Image Source: Crunch Fitness
In one 2003 study, it was discovered that heavier weights help to burn more calories, not during the workout, but after. This is the result of something called "Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption", or EPOC. Basically, your body has used up so much energy during the workout that it has to work extra hard to replace it. It burns calories to send nutrients and oxygen to your exhausted muscles.
With cardio workouts, there is very little EPOC. Calorie-burning stops within 3 to 10 minutes of finishing your low-intensity cardio (jogging or cycling). With resistance training, the calorie-burning continues for up to an hour or so after the workout. But after a HIIT training session or a resistance training session with VERY heavy weights, the EPOC causes your body to continue burning calories for as long as 38 hours after the workout!
How much weight should you be lifting? Ideally, work with 80 to 95% of your 1-Rep Max Weight. You should be performing sets with very few reps (2 to 6) and with plenty of rest time between each set (up to 3 minutes). This will enhance your performance to the max and help you burn A LOT more calories!
Turn up the Tunes
We all know that music makes everything better! Whether you're working at the office, sitting in traffic, or cleaning the yard, nothing makes you happier than your favorite tunes. It doesn't matter whether you're a metalhead, a pop-lover, or an EDM music nut--music works!
Image Source: Fitness Trainer
There are so many benefits to listening to music while you work out:
More pleasure/less tiredness -- In one study, a group of 28 people was examined to determine what effects music would have on their workouts. The participants who listened to music enjoyed their workouts more, and they reported less tiredness as a result of the training. While the music didn't increase the number of calories they burned or increase their heart rate, they perceived their workout as "less tiring" and "more enjoyable."
Music WON'T makes you burn more calories, but it will help you to get through your workout more easily. The boost music provides will make it possible for you to push yourself harder, as you'll be more inspired in your workouts.
Help you reach your goals -- In another study, runners were given a pre-defined workout goal (reach X speed, X distance, etc.). After the 9-week training program, the people who listened to music were better able to reach their workout goals, and they enjoyed their workouts more. As a bonus, they "felt" as if they completed the workout more efficiently.
Music takes your mind off the fact that you're gasping for breath and sweating like a pig. You focus on the tunes you love, and the result is a more effective workout.
Push yourself harder -- A 2011 paper highlighted the benefits of music in regards to high-intensity exercise. While it doesn't help you push beyond your anaerobic thresholds (the limits of your endurance and stamina), it can help to enhance the effects of the workout while reducing your perception of exertion. This means you'll have an easier time pushing yourself, as you'll feel less tired/drained as a result of the training.
Definitely, a good reason to add music to your workouts!
Dancing is excellent exercise--burning upwards of 400 to 600 calories per hour. The more active forms of dance (salsa dancing, EDM, etc.) are great for kicking the calorie-burning into high gear.
The human body is only capable of so much, but it's time to push your body to its limits and see just what kind of awesome things it can do!
You will be amazed with the results especially since it is for the long run. Just remember that despite all the hard work, you will be thanking yourself someday for improving your body and your health.