Finding time for a workout can be challenging, so when you have 30 minutes on your lunch break or 15 minutes before you pick the kids up from soccer practice, it's important to make the most of that precious time. If this sounds familiar and you've been looking to maximize the calorie burn of your workout, the good news is that you shouldn't have to carve out extra time to achieve the desired result. By making some simple swaps, you can burn more fat and calories, improve your fitness level and get even closer to achieving all of your healthy living goals.
When designing a workout program, the most important thing is to find exercises you enjoy. If you like what you're doing, you'll stick with it. If you dread your workout, it doesn't matter how many calories it burns because you're not likely to continue long-term. Ideally, you'll find a balance between enjoying what you're doing and getting the most out of it.
In general, adding short bursts of higher intensity intervals or exercises that involve multiple muscle groups are simple ways to increase your calorie burn. Whether you're fairly new to exercise or have been active for many years, the intensity of the workout can always be adjusted to meet your needs, so consider some of these simple swaps experts recommend when you want to increase your calorie burn.
1. Instead of isolated strength exercises, try compound strength movements.
According to Dempsey Marks, fitness expert and creator of the PreGame Fit program, strength exercises that only work one small muscle or one set of muscles are not efficient in terms of burning fat and calories. "For example, while a bicep curl is great for the bicep, there is not a great deal of calorie or fat burning going on," she explains. "If that is your goal, you are best to combine exercises that work large and small muscle groups at the same time. Add a lunge with your bicep curl to work your lower muscle groups, test your balance (which forces you to engage your core) and more.
2. Instead of a traditional yoga or Pilates classes, try a higher intensity version.
Hatha yoga is typically used to describe basic yoga and is generally an introduction to the practice. While it's great for beginners to become familiar with the terminology and poses, it's not the best option when it comes to calories burned. An average Hatha class burns around 189 calories per hour, while an average Vinyasa class could burn as many as 594 calories in the same amount of time.
Similarly, a traditional Pilates class might burn 120 to 336 calories per hour, but if you're looking for an extra boost, consider Pilates reformer, which burns 250 to 450 calories per hour (depending on your fitness level). If you want to add a
3. Instead of machine-based sitting exercises, try standing exercises.
Shane McLean, an ACE-certified personal trainer and fitness blogger, suggests that standing and exercising will burn more calories and help burn more fat compared to sitting. "A study in the UK reveals that if a person stood instead of sitting for an extra three hours a day, they could burn over 30,000 calories in the course of a year, or what amounts to eight extra pounds," McLean explains. "Standing while exercising will burn more calories and help burn more fat compared to sitting because standing engages your balance and core." To replace common sitting exercises with standing modifications, start with:
- Goblet squat instead of
- Single-arm chest press instead of supine chest press
- Single-arm dumbbell row instead of seated row
Dana Ryan, Ph.D.
She goes on to say that the same thing can happen with an elliptical. "While it's possible to burn substantial calories, many people use
5. Instead of simple strength movements, add
"A regular squat is a great exercise, but to increase the calorie burn, try adding
"Another idea is to hold a squat down low and
6. Instead of steady-state cardio, try HIIT.
According to health coach Dean Anderson, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has a number of advantages over traditional steady-state exercise. "HIIT is a specialized form of training that involves short intervals of maximum intensity exercise separated by longer intervals of low to moderate intensity exercise," he explains. "The key element that makes HIIT different than other forms of interval training is that the high-intensity intervals involve maximum effort, not simply a higher heart rate. HIIT increases the number of calories you burn during (and after) your exercise session, because it increases the length of time it takes your body to recover." Anderson goes on to say that, "This type of training causes metabolic adaptations that enable you to use more fat as fuel under a variety of conditions. This will improve your athletic endurance as well as your fat-burning potential."
Keep in mind that HIIT is not for the novice exerciser or those with cardiovascular problems; it is an intense workout designed to take an advanced
7. Instead of your traditional "standby" routine, incorporate exercises that take you out of your comfort zone.
Personal trainer and health and wellness coach Jamie Logie explains that sometimes the best calorie- and fat-burning exercises are the ones that require a big amount of effort that put you in an uncomfortable situation, forcing true exertion. "When an exercise is very demanding, it requires more energy, muscle and action from your body, thereby making it more of a calorie burner," he describes. "This is why some people don't enjoy doing
Logie notes that, "When you only do exercises that are easy to do or that you're good at, you're not really challenging your body. Your body learns the easiest way to perform an exercise when it does it all the time and that makes it less effective. You need to challenge it by providing a higher and more challenging stimulus." Your body will then respond by burning more calories and becoming more fit over time. Logie recommends adding in a few high-intensity exercises, such as
Since many of these exercises are very intense, proceed with caution. Even if you aren't ready for sprints, adding a few intervals of speed walking to your regular walk is a simple way to increase the calorie burn while controlling the intensity. Try
It's important to note that there is nothing wrong with the "instead of" exercises described above. If you like what you're doing and it keeps you moving, then stick with it! If burning more calories