If you're one of those people who shows up at the gym with no idea of what to do, and ends up on the elliptical, it's time to take things up a notch. This summer, challenge yourself by adding these tactics to help you burn more calories and enhance the effectiveness of your workout.
1. Speed it up
Integrating sprints, or bursts of short, intense cardio, between strength-training sets, or even during a casual jog will really help to rev up the calorie burn. While the exact amount of calories burned will depend on your weight and speed, the following examples are for a person who weighs 150 pounds, and sprints at 10 miles per hour (pretty fast):
- 1-minute sprint = 20 calories burned, compared to 10 calories for a jog and 5 calories for a walk
- 8 minutes of sprints would add an extra 150 calories
So maybe you can only sprint at 7 or 8 miles per hour, and only for 30 seconds — that's OK! The key is to raise your heart rate for a period of time, and research has found that you'll increase your calorie burn. Instead of taking a water break, wiping sweat off with a towel or checking your text messages, sprint for 60 seconds and then get back to your workout.
2. Strap yourself in
If walking is more your style than sprinting, ankle weights are a great way to add extra pounds (and intensity) to your nightly summer stroll. According to the American Council on Exercise, ankle weights ranging from 1-3 pounds can increase your heart rate by an average of three to five beats per minute, and increase oxygen intake by five to 10 percent, compared to unweighted conditions. These two factors can increase your calorie burn, though the exact increase depends on your weight, speed and the length of your walk. But if you're walking for about an hour, you might experience triple digit calorie burn.
Just be careful if you have weak or sensitive joints, as it will make it more challenging to walk and puts extra pressure on your ankles and knees.
3. More weights, less reps
You can also use heavier weights during your strength-training workouts to experience a greater calorie burn. Research has found that lifting heavier weights (even just five to 10 percent heavier than the ones you currently use) may yield an extra burn — that will continue even after the workout! Since the weight will be heavier to lift, you can decrease your repetitions and still reap the benefits.
4. Remember your headphones
Research has found that listening to upbeat and fast-paced music helps increase the rate at which you work out. And, the faster and more intensely you’re moving, the more calories you’re burning! Use fast-paced music to help you increase your light jog to a faster run. You’ll be able to burn more calories in the same amount of time if you’re moving faster.
For a person who weighs 150 pounds, lightly jogging for an hour, burns about 476 calories. By turning that jog into a run at 6 miles per hour, you'll burn 680 calories. That’s a whopping 200-calorie difference by running faster, and upbeat music will help with this.
Incorporate at least one of these strategies into your next workout to step it up! Getting results isn’t only about working harder, it’s also about working smarter. So next time instead of doing a lighter workout and simply walking on the treadmill, take it up to a jog or grab a set of dumbbells and pump your arms to get in that extra burn!