While some of us are exercising because it’s good for our overall health, many of us also want to build lean muscle and perhaps shed some fat in the process. If whittling your waist is one of your goals, you’ll need to push hard, says New York City-based certified personal trainer, Melissa Paris.
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Here are her 10 expert fitness tips on how to stoke your metabolism and burn more fat during your workouts.
1. Fuel Up Properly
If you’re not fuelled up properly before you head off to the gym, you’ll be less likely to give your workout everything you’ve got. Have a fast-digesting carb like a piece of fruit at least 30 minutes before exercising to give your workout momentum, suggests Paris. Also, if you’re strength training or weight lifting, try to have at least 20 grams of protein immediately after your workout to maximize your muscle gains.
2. Put Your Phone Away
Unless you’re using it as a workout reference or a timer, turn off notifications so you’re not distracted by texts, Twitter mentions, Facebook updates, and things that aren’t crucial to your workout. Paris tells her clients to give their workout the full attention it deserves for 45 minutes to an hour in order to maximize their fat-burning potential.
3. Keep Breaks Short
When Paris is training her clients, she only allows for short breaks between movements (10 to 30 seconds), so their heart rates stay high, which she says is the key to burning fat.
4. Practice AMRAPs
Doing “as many rounds (or reps) as possible” is an excellent way to keep your heart rate near it’s max and ignite your body’s fat-burning furnace for longer. Do this with sprints, plyometric exercises, burpees, box jumps, pull-ups, and more.
5. Try Supersets
Paris will have her clients do several exercises back to back so that they’re challenging muscles while keeping heart rates high. For example, she might have clients move from a push-up and chest press back-to-back for a few repetitions until they’ve completed a set. Then they’ll rest for about a minute (or less) and go again.
6. Make It A Timed Goal
When Paris tells her clients to do a specific number of sit-ups, pushups, squats, jumps, or burpees in a certain amount of time (like 30 reps in 45 seconds), they’re more likely to push themselves and hit the goal than if they do “as many as they can” for 45 seconds.
7. Incorporate HIIT
“I love HIIT (high-intensity interval training), because there are brief rest periods and you get more out of your 45 to 60-minute workouts, burning more calories and fat,” says Paris. Here are just a few HIIT workouts you can try to get started.
8. Change It Up
Using different equipment means you’re varying the movement and challenging your body while building endurance and stamina. For example, doing a triceps or biceps exercise will work muscles in new ways if you use a kettlebell instead of a dumbbell, and abs exercises will feel different if you add a medicine ball or weight plate to the mix. Paris also loves battle ropes for keeping the heart rate high while working your entire upper body, and TRX suspension training for a total-body workout that challenges your core with every movement.
9. Go Old School With A Jump Rope
You may not have done this since your schoolyard days, but there’s a reason boxers and fighters jump rope when training. It’s an effective, challenging cardio workout (seriously, jump rope as fast as you can for a few minutes and let us know how you feel). You’ll be burning fat (and probably sweating buckets) while jumping, plus, it’s fun and can be done anywhere, any time.
10. Give Yourself Rest Day
If you’re really doing four to five hard workouts each week (the ones that burn fat), it’s necessary to take a day off every now and again. Your muscles need to repair themselves with rest, sleep, and proper nutrition. “If you don’t take a break, you’re more likely to get injured if you’re not functioning at full capacity,” says Paris. “Sometimes you have to pull back to go forward.”