Copyright 2006 The Fitness Consulting Group
Are you looking for that “jump start” to rev your metabolism and get you bathing suit ready? The following ten tips will improve your workouts and ignite your metabolism. Try some or all of these tips, but beware, the result may be a number of admiring second glances and stares when you don that bikini or pair of trunks.
1. The majority of your workouts should be composed of free-weight or cable exercises.
Compared to machines, free-weight and cable movements often require more skill, create muscular balance, and have a greater metabolic cost. For example, it is more difficult to balance the weights, and to coordinate muscles when performing free-weight exercises. Although this may sound like a disadvantage, it is actually a benefit. By balancing and stabilizing free-weights or cables you are working more muscles through a greater range of motion resulting in more muscles developed and more calories burned.
2. Use mostly compound (multi-joint and multi-muscle) exercises.
When focusing on improving body composition, you can’t worry about “detail” exercises, so you should use exercises that’ll get you the biggest bang for your buck. Isolation exercises can be used at the end of a workout to work on a specific weakness, but only do the bare minimum.
Virtually every savvy fitness professional is privy to the fact that compound exercises recruit the most muscle groups for any given body part.
If you seek lean muscle and the increase in metabolism that comes with it, you must choose exercises that allow for the greatest load. One of the main reasons why squats are superior to leg extensions for quadriceps development relates to the fact that the load you can expose the quadriceps to is much greater with squats. That’s why presses and dips will give you great triceps development, while triceps kickbacks will do little for triceps development and even less for the metabolism.
A good rule of thumb is to use lifts that will allow you to use the most weight. These will have a systemic effect on your body that’ll help maintain or increase your muscle mass, and in turn ignite your metabolism.
3. Super-set or group exercises.
Perform either non-competing muscle group training or antagonist training. Non-competing muscle group training would involve doing a set of a lower body exercise, and following it up with an upper body exercise Antagonist training is executed by alternating exercises that target opposing muscle groups (e.g. chest and back). The list of benefits includes: quicker recovery, greater strength levels and shorter workout times.
This design can be a huge advantage in your mission to burn fat. If you alternate exercises for opposing or non-competing muscle groups, you’ll be able to keep your heart rate elevated and burn calories like a blast furnace!
4. Keep rep ranges, in general, between 8 and 12.
Through research, it has been determined that the best range for hypertrophy (muscle gain) is roughly between 8-12 reps. Since the main focus of your resistance training efforts is to gain lean body mass and stimulate your metabolism, this rep range fills the bill perfectly. “High reps for tone and fat loss” is the “big kahuna” of all training myths! Somehow the aerobics, yoga and Pilate’s community have convinced us that when we perform bodyweight exercises or light resistance training for high reps, our muscles magically take on a beautiful shape without growing or bulging. On the other hand, if you challenge yourself with moderately heavy weights, your body will take on a bulky, unflattering appearance. If you believe this, you probably still believe in the Tooth Fairy!
5. Rest only 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
When you keep the rest periods under one minute, it’s easier to stay focused on the task at hand and keeps your heart rate elevated. In addition, it forces your muscles to recover more quickly between sets, along with keeping your nervous system revved up.
If your first movement in an upper/lower body superset is squats, you might want to rest 60 seconds before attempting your second movement. However, if your first exercise is a fairly “easy” exercise, like lat pull downs, you might only wish to wait 30 seconds before doing the second part of the superset.
6. Every session should consist of approximately six to eight exercises. Why? Because empirical evidence has shown that normal trainees can consistently maintain six to eight exercises per session without burning out.
It’s imperative to base your exercise selection around compound, multi-joint exercises. Seventy-five percent (75%) of your exercises for each session must be compound exercises. Six single-joint isolation exercises are not going do the trick. Sure, you can perform a few isolation exercises, but the majority of your exercise choices should be multi-joint.
7. Perform Total Body Workouts
First and foremost, you must drop the notion that a muscle group can only be trained once or twice a week. Fitness enthusiasts from the past didn’t train that way and you shouldn’t either. The more frequent muscle producing / fat burning sessions you can have, the better.
8. Cardio is not the cure-all for Obesity
Cardiovascular exercise aids in the creation of a caloric deficit, but the caloric expenditure during cardio is temporary. Strength training addresses the core of the problem by permanently increasing the rate at which the body burns calories by adding muscle. The best programs will include both strength training and cardiovascular training, but the core or the programs effectiveness is resistance training.
9. When you do cardio, do it first thing in the morning.
Do your cardiovascular training first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. You’ve gone 8 or more hours without eating, so your blood sugar levels are at their lowest when you first wake up. After about 10-15 minutes of cardio training on an empty stomach, you’ll have burned up all your remaining blood sugar.
Once your blood sugar is used up, the only remaining source of fuel your body has to continue with your cardio exercise is your stored body fat.
10. Vary your pace during your cardio training sessions.
Don’t maintain a constant steady pace while you’re on the treadmill or elliptical machine. Numerous studies have shown you’ll burn more calories and more fat if you train in intervals.
Start out by going for 1 minute at your normal walking pace. Then, for the next 30 seconds, speed it up to a run. After the 30 seconds at an increased pace, slow back down to your original pace for 1 more minute. This is known as an interval. Repeat this interval style cardio for 10-20 minutes.
Performing your cardio in this “interval” fashion will allow you to burn more fat and calories in less time than just keeping a nice steady pace. This will increase the results you see while reducing your time on the treadmill, stationary bike, or whatever form of cardiovascular training you do.