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About Fat Burning

So you think you know the drill on getting a good body. But we’re not after good; we’re after great.

# Be an early bird to get the workout.

Lace up first thing and you’ll increase your odds of exercising today threefold. A study of 500 people at the Mollen Clinic, a preventive medicine and wellness center in Scottsdale, Arizona, found that 75 percent of those who worked out in the morning did so regularly, compared with just half the afternoon exercisers and a quarter of the post-work crowd. “At the beginning of the day, you have the fewest excuses for skipping exercise,” says clinic founder Arthur Mollen, DO. Not waking up early enough, of course, is the main one. “Limit using the snooze button to only five minutes so that you don’t fall into a deep sleep again,” Dr. Mollen advises. Bonus! You’ll go to work feeling focused: A recent study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that 20 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise improved concentration, reading comprehension, and cognitive function.

# Hit the metal before the pedal.

Instead of going from zero to 60 to sweat off the calories, consider this: Doing a quick sculpting routine pre-cardio could increase the amount of fat you melt. Exercisers in a study at the University of Tokyo who biked within 20 minutes of lifting weights tapped more of their fat stores than those who rested longer or didn’t tone at all.

# Push your pace, rev your metabolism.

Finished toning and ready to get sweaty? Gun it a bit for a bigger afterburn. “High-intensity exercise increases the release of growth hormones, which mobilize fat to be used as fuel, plus it causes your metabolism to stay elevated about 10 to 15 percent above its baseline, so you’re burning more fat for several hours post-workout,” says Arthur Weltman, PhD, director of the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. In other words, if you worked off 300 calories during your session, you’ll get a bonus burn of about 45 calories even after you’ve toweled off.

# Give up your seat to trim your bottom line.

Even regular exercisers could benefit from extra toning of their tush, the largest muscle group in the body, which dozes all day at your desk job. “When you’re walking or running, it’s your hamstrings, hip flexors, and calf muscles that get the most work,” says FITNESS advisory board member Vonda Wright, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Unless you’re going uphill, your glutes don’t play a major role.” The good news? If you bailed on doing those butt-firming squats during your workout, you can easily sneak them in when your cube mate isn’t looking. Stand up from your chair, feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your bottom to the seat as though you’re going to sit, touch down, and then spring up, squeezing your glutes as you straighten. Do three sets of 10 to 15 reps two or even three times throughout the day.

# Take a power walk to beat a midday slump.

As little as 20 minutes of low-intensity aerobic activity such as walking can give you a 20 percent surge in energy, research at the University of Georgia in Athens finds. “It’s paradoxical: Many people assume that they’ll get tired from exercise. But the opposite actually happens,” says study author Patrick O’Connor, PhD, a professor of kinesiology. “We’re not certain what the biological mechanism is,” he says, “but indirect evidence suggests that brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin are altered and cause the improved energy.” Besides, that quick recharge just burned about 75 calories. Sure beats adding 250 spike-then-slump calories’ worth of Skittles.

# Do the two-step.

When you opt for the stairs, go at them two at a time — as long as you’re not wearing heels. The quick bursts of power activate your legs’ fast-twitch muscle fibers, which burn more calories than slow-twitch fibers. Plus, you’ll be using a part of your muscles that commonly doesn’t get enough action. “Fast muscle cells are designed so you can jump far, kick hard, punch fast — moves that you call on less and less in modern society,” says Scott Mazzetti, PhD, a professor of exercise science at Salisbury University in Maryland. “But unfortunately it’s a use-them-or-lose-them situation, so it’s good to activate them regularly.”

# Go like Gumby.

Consistent stretching significantly decreases muscle soreness, according to a study at the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for Health Services in Oslo. Skipped your stretches postexercise? Wind down with this 17-minute allover loosener from Jennifer Huberty, PhD, an exercise physiologist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

  • Warm up first with 5 minutes of brisk high-knee marching.
  • Toe-reach stretch (targets hamstrings, which remain shortened all day as you’re seated): Sit on the floor with your left leg straight in front of you, knee slightly bent, right leg bent out to the side and resting on the floor. Reach for your toes without bouncing and hold for 30 seconds; relax. Do 3 stretches, then switch legs and repeat.
  • Hip-flexor stretch (targets hips, which also are tight in desk jockeys): Lie faceup on the floor with your left leg bent, left foot flat, and bend your right knee out to the side so your right ankle is crossed over and resting on the lower left thigh. Grasp your left thigh with both hands and pull it toward you until you feel a comfortable stretch in your right hip, glutes, and outer thigh. Hold for 30 seconds; switch legs and repeat. Do 3 stretches per side.
  • Side stretch (targets upper back and waistline): Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Raise arms overhead and interlock fingers with palms facing up. Keeping your middle centered, hinge at the waist to the right; hold for 30 seconds. Return to center and reach up; hold for 30 seconds.
  • Switch sides; repeat. Do 3 stretches on each side.

# Set out your sneakers.

A recent FITNESS poll found that sneakers — with sports bras being a close second — are the piece of gear that is forgotten most often, foiling women’s workout plans. Clear that obstacle by, well, making them an obstacle in front of the door you exit in the a.m., suggests Diane Klein, PhD, chair of exercise and sports sciences at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens. “Seeing them will remind you that you planned to exercise,” Klein says. For motivation to move, kicks are worth a thousand words.

Here is Great Fat Burning Exercises

  • Lunges with Reverse Leg Raise – This tones the glutes, thighs, obliques, and lower back, all while building coordination and balance.
  • Jumping Squats – Do this exercise for a minute or two straight and you wont have any doubts about how challenging it is. This plyometric is also great for building explosive speed.
  • Push Ups – Push ups are a total body exercise that are easily modified and can be made to be very challenging, even for the most avid exerciser. If a regular push up feels too easy for you, try the Single Leg Push Up.
  • Burpees – This at home cardio move tones your core, upper body and legs all at once- it’s a triple threat exercise that everyone tends to dread for good reason; they are hard! But they also work.
  • Jumping Lunges – Lunges are a fantastic thigh toning exercise; add in the momentum required to jump up in between lunges and the move turns into an incredible calorie burner.
  • Jackknife Crunches – Jackknife Crunches are an advanced abdominal move that engage both the upper and lower abs for maximal toning in the least amount of time. They are especially beneficial because lower abs can be hard to target without equipment.
  • Side Planks with Leg Raises – While this most specifically targets the outer thighs, obliques, and deltoids, it requires the strength and coordination of the entire body to hold up the base Pilates side plank.
  • Lateral Jumps – Tone your core, glutes, and thighs with this one simple Pilates move. Because all of the large muscle groups involved, you burn a high number of calories while you are toning.
  • Mountain Climbers – Mountain Climbers can feel like a punishment, but they truly are one of the best overall toning and fat burning moves out there that don’t require a bit of equipment.
  • Jumping Jacks – This simple at home cardio essential is an excellent way to get your heart rate up quickly. Add it in between strength training sets to keep your caloric burn high.