Your metabolism plays a crucial role in determining how you lose and maintain your weight. Having a fast metabolism versus a slow one makes it much easier to lose fat and stay fit.
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So, what can you do to speed up metabolism? How you exercise has a lot to do with increasing your metabolic rate, and weight training exercises can be especially good at boosting your metabolism.
Here are some of the ways you can use your weight training workouts to help you burn calories and fire up your metabolism.
1. Build Muscle Mass
Cardio is all well and good for getting your heart rate up and helping improve your cardiovascular health, but speeding up your metabolism involves building muscle. Lean muscle mass requires calories for upkeep, which means you’ll burn more calories even when you’re at rest. Additionally, weight training workouts breaks down muscles, and it takes energy for rebuilding and growth, which also means more calories used.
2. Use Compound Movements
While there’s a time and place for isolation work, you’ll reap significant benefits from performing compound movements (exercises that use a number of different muscles at a time). Weight training exercises like squats, bench presses and deadlifts, as well as strength training exercises like pull ups and dips, all use multiple muscle groups at a time, and can help ramp up your metabolism.
3. Don’t Neglect Your Legs
Men especially find it easy to focus on working the upper body and abs while neglecting the legs. However, as a million memes online remind us, “Never skip leg day!” No matter how strong your arms are, your legs, including your glutes and thighs, are your body’s biggest muscle group. Strong, solid legs are the foundation of great fitness, and will help you take your weight training workouts to the next level while boosting your metabolic rate.
4. Stay On Your Feet
Some weight training workouts, such as a bench press, absolutely require you to get off your feet. However, there are many exercises that can either be performed either standing or sitting; for these, we recommend staying up and incorporating compound movements as you perform them. For example, if you’re going to work your biceps, you may as well do them standing; why not incorporate a squat in the move as well? Generally speaking, staying upright will require you to work your core more for stability, resulting in a better workout overall.
5. Use HIIT
Although HIIT (high intensity interval training) may not always involve weights, it nonetheless counts as a bona fide strength training. In HIIT, you alternate short periods of extreme exertion (for example, sprinting) with short periods of rest (for example, walking slowly). HIIT has been shown to have a myriad of health benefits, including increasing aerobic fitness, building muscular strength and endurance, and increasing metabolism.
HIIT can be performed with either high-intensity cardio exercises, with strength training exercises or with a mix of both. If you’re interested in HIIT cardio and weight training workouts, try this 20-minute, full-body HIIT workout to ramp up your metabolism.
6. Do Your Weight-Training Exercises First
If you do cardio and weight training exercises on the same day, do your weights first and cardio second (after a short warmup, of course). If you start with a gruelling cardio workout, your energy stores will be depleted by the time you get to your weights, and you won’t be able to push yourself as hard. Starting with weights will allow you to get the most out of your weight training.
They can’t all be gym days. Working out strains your muscles, so you want to give your body plenty of time to rest and repair. If you’re scheduling weight training workouts every day, your body won’t recover as well and you’re unlikely to see the changes in muscle mass that you’re more likely to run into problems with injury.