The single most effective way to turbo-charge your workout and see amazing results is to add resistance training to your workout routine. Resistance training helps you tighten muscles, making them appear more lean (slimmer!), while jacking up your calorie burn during and after your workout.
Why Add Resistance?
Resistance training can burn about 200 calories per hour and adds some interest to your workout, instead of the old heel-toe heel-toe on the treadmill. Of course, cardio exercise is still necessary for your cardiovascular health, and is extremely effective for burning calories and fat. However, resistance training will send your fat burn into overdrive, as fat is burned inside your muscles.
Types of Resistance Training
There are a bunch of ways that you can add resistance to your workout. Using weights, bands or exercise tubing is the most common, prototypical way. Swimming and running in water, or adding hills, adds resistance during cardio to help tone muscles. Bodyweight resistance like push-ups, squats, lunges and pull-ups are great options, too. But let's face it; our time is limited, so put it all together and you'll get the best resistance training to help boost weight loss, tone muscle, and build strength and endurance.
Circuit training involves bouts of heart-pumping cardio mixed with resistance training to keep your heart rate up with high intensity intervals and your muscles pumping during the weight sessions. The best part about the circuits is that you get your whole work out done in the time most people are just jumping off the cardio machines. The speed that you work through the circuits causes quick muscle fatigue, but still allows for muscle recovery.
What to Do
There are a few options to use when designing a circuit workout. All are equally as rigorous and intense. To keep it interesting, try different circuits on different days and watch your fat melt away.
- Day 1: Plan your workout to include upper and lower body weight sets. Complete one upper body set, like bicep curls, followed by a lower body set like squats. Continue through your workout with no rest in order to keep your heart rate high and your workout fast!
- Day 2: Choose a weighted set of exercises and a body weight set that uses the same body parts to superset the muscles and encourage fatigue. For example, try squat presses followed by squat jumps. Hold dumbbells in each hand, arms at sides. Lower into a squat. As you raise up, curl weights up, then press overhead, keeping abs tight to protect your lower back. Complete 10-12 reps. When you have finished, immediately perform 10 squat jumps. Complete a second pair of complimentary exercises (chest press then burpees) to incorporate your total body. After the 2 pairs of exercises, choose one minute of intense cardio before repeating your resistance sets. Jump rope, run stairs, complete sprints or try a series of plyometric jumping exercises.
- Day 3: Complete each weight set followed by 40 seconds to 1 minute of high intensity cardio after each set. Find a machine, or grab your weights and get going! Try completing a set of 12-15 lunges then run stairs. Repeat three times before switching gears to another exercise. Keep it even more fun by changing your cardio after each set, or hog some space at the gym and stay in the same area, using nothing more than a few pairs of dumbbells for your weights. No waiting, no worries!
Complete these circuts and kiss your weight good-bye! Be aware that as you build muscle, you may add a few pounds on the scale--although your inches will be dropping--so do a few quick measurements, and soon enough it will be inches and weight that you are losing.