3 Surefire Ways to Crank Up Your Metabolism

For being the key to weight loss, your metabolism is incredibly simple. It's just all of the chemical processes in your body added up. So the higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn. And while your metabolic rate is influenced by genetics, your workout can really rev it up big time.

Exercise can increase metabolism in three ways:

1. It burns calories during the workout session.
2. It burns additional calories directly following the workout session, which is known as the afterburn affect. This post-exercise metabolic boost can last 24-48 hours.
3. It increases calorie-burning lean muscle mass. One pound of muscle burns an extra 6-50 calories a day.

Fitness Rules You Should Never Follow

But when it comes to boosting your metabolism, not all exercise is created equal. Here, how you should prioritize your workouts to get your metabolism humming:

#1 Choice: Strength Training
Lifting weights will boost your metabolism in all three ways and should be your first priority if you really want to burn more fat more easily. Have you ever noticed that men can lose weight by cutting out their nightly ice cream while women have to count calories like crazy before the scale will even budge? That's because men tend to have more metabolically active muscle than women. Complete a total-body strength-training program two to three days a week to build significant lean muscle mass and boost your metabolism, even if you're cutting calories.

The Best Strength Training for Women

#2 Choice: Interval Training

This type of cardio workout, in which you push your exercise intensity for a short period of time and then recover, will burn calories during exercise as well as give you an afterburn effect. In one study comparing the effects of 15 weeks of interval training with 20 weeks of steady-state endurance training, researchers found that the participants who completed interval workouts lost nine times more fat than those who completed endurance workouts.

The Ultimate Fat-Blasting Interval Workout

#3 Choice: Steady State Endurance Cardio and Aerobics

When you hit the pavement, you burn calories during the run, but you don't get the benefit of an afterburn effect or of building muscle. And be careful: If you overdo it, you could actually end up losing muscle, which can slow your metabolism. In one study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, participants completed six long runs in seven days, after which the average weight loss was 6.1%. However, 5% of their weight loss came from lean mass and only 1.1% came from body fat. Stick to a little running-about 30 minutes on the days following your strength-training sessions-to help recover from your workouts without burning through muscle.

Fitness Face Off: Cardio or Weight Lifting?

By Rachel Cosgrove, Women's Health

More from Women's Health:

Boost Your Metabolism All-Day Long

Easy Ways to Burn More Fat

Best New Exercises You're Not Doing

Out of workout ideas? Buy The WH Big Book of Exercises and you'll never get bored again.


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