Burn More Fat: 10 Little Changes in Your Exercise Routine that Will Make the Difference

CULTURA/ZERO CREATIVES/STOCK IMAGE/GETTY IMAGESBy Linda Melone

Burn More Calories Throughout the Day

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (or NEAT) refers to the calories you burn while going about your daily activities. Walking, typing, performing yard work -- even fidgeting -- increases our metabolic rate and can contribute significantly to the calories you burn throughout the day. "The average women consumes 12,397 calories per week, exercises for three to five hours a week, yet rarely reaches 2,000 (kcal)in exercise, which is the minimal amount need to lose weight through activity," says Fabio Comana, senior fitness educator with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Time to cash in on those 100+ hours you're awake to make a dent. Find activities that'll get you moving more frequently during the day. Even giving up your seat on the bus helps! Standing for 2 hours a day (vs. sitting) enables you to lose nearly eight pounds in one year.


Work Out with a Friend

Exercising with a friend not only holds you accountable but sparks competitiveness that can make you work harder, says Tom Holland, Connecticut-based running coach and author of Beat the Gym: Personal Trainer Secrets--Without the Personal Trainer Price Tag. "Studies with cyclists show that individual cyclists train slower than when they're together with other cyclists." Find a friend and make a pact to push each other.


Use a Heart Rate Monitor at the Gym

A heart rate monitor tracks exercise intensity and can motivate you to work harder. "Most people don't work out as hard as they think they do," says Holland.

In general, you can calculate your maximum heart rate (MHR) by subtracting your age from 220.

Once you have your MHR, use it to vary your workouts. "You want to vary your intensity throughout the week," says Holland. Most days should be easy/endurance days where you hit 50 to 60 percent of your MHR. But, make sure you sprinkle in a few hard days where you bring your heart rate up to 75 to 80 percent of your MHR.


Add Weight to Your Daily Routine

This one may sound a little silly, but ever consider wearing a weight vest? It may sound silly, but a 130 pound woman wearing a 20 pound vest will burn approximately 15 percent more calories regardless of the weight-bearing activity, says Pire. But better if you wear it while walking, jogging, performing lower-body exercises like lunges, squats and step-ups… "or even while gardening, mowing the lawn, or grocery shopping," says Pire.

Why not give it a shot?


Add Power Moves

Power is the ability to exert force in a short amount of time. In other words, it takes more power to lift 10 pounds within a half a second as it does to lift the same amount of weight within a full second. Adding this speed component to your workout helps boost calorie-burn. "Exercises with an explosive component recruits more muscles fibers and muscle groups and, as a result, burns more calories," says Comana. The simplest way to integrate power into your exercise program? Perform your standing movements at a slightly higher speed.

For example: a typical squat may take four seconds to get out of. Try squatting down at your normal pace and quickly "exploding" up instead. Tips to keep in mind:

Start slowly and introduce one or two power moves a week into your regular training program.

Use slightly heavier weights than you normally would to prevent yourself from moving too fast. That could lead to strained joints.


Interval Train

Interval training involves mixing in bouts of intense exercise with recovery (or lower-intensity) periods. For example: alternating between running and walking, for 60 seconds each activity. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), these short, intense bouts burn more calories than working at the same intensity for the same amount of time. How much more depends on the intensity of the workout and your fitness level. The recovery periods allow for greater intensity during the work periods and, therefore, more calories burned overall.

High intensity intervals produce a greater after-burn effect known as Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). "The body burns more calories as it returns to its pre-workout state. EPOC has been shown to keep energy expenditure elevated above your resting metabolic rate for up to 16 hours post exercise," says Neal I. Pire, author of Plyometrics For Athletes at All Levels.


Weight Train with Your Cardio

Adding resistance training in addition to cardio helps boost metabolism all day long. You may not see the results for a month or so, but you just need to trust us and stick with it. "Building muscle boosts your resting metabolism, but it takes four to six weeks before you'll see changes," says Comana. Another weight-training bonus: fat occupies a third more space than muscle, so you look thinner with more muscle. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a successful weight-training program must include:

Overload: The weight you use must be challenging to the muscle for changes in strength or tone to occur. The last three repetitions of each set should be difficult.

Progression: As your muscles become stronger, increase the resistance or otherwise create additional challenges to the muscle to avoid a progress plateau. While performing biceps curls, for example, increase the difficulty by performing slower repetitions and pausing at the top while keeping tension on the muscle.


Use a Pedometer Throughout the Day

Like a heart rate monitor, using a tracking device such as a pedometer helps quantify your progress, says Holland. "Tracking your progress helps you stick with the program by showing your improvements over time." The use of a pedometer is associated with significant increases in physical activity and weight loss and improvements in blood pressure, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Apparently, simply wearing the device, motivated participants to increase physical activity by over 2,000 steps -- that's about one mile of walking -- per day. Experts recommend targeting 10,000 steps per day, which translates to approximately five miles. Walking can burn between 140 and 200 calories per hour, depending on your pace.


Add Sports Drills

You don't have to be an athlete to train like one, says Comana. Sports drills add fun to your sessions and work the entire body as a whole, adding an additional fat-burning component. Perform these sports drills on alternate days from your regular workout or pick a few to do as a fun warm-up. "Start slowly and only progress when you have mastered your technique," says Comana. Start by placing markers (pencils, strips of paper, tape etc.) on the ground approximately 18 inches apart - to build a 10-yard "ladder."

High-knee Stepping Start at the first marker - facing the rest of the ladder. Keeping eyes a yard in front of you, raise your right knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground and take a giant step so that your right foot lands on the next marker. Alternate legs until you've hit every marker. Keep elbows bent at 90 degrees and swing them alternately with each step. Turn around and head back down the ladder.

Side Shuffle Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent - your right side should be facing the ladder. Step your right foot to the next marker (keep your upper body still -- avoid rocking) and quickly follow it with your left foot. Quickly shuffle down the length of the ladder. Pause, and shuffle back to starting position using your left foot. Repeat.


Do Dynamic Warm-ups

Instead of plodding along on a treadmill for 10 minutes before a workout, do a more aggressive warm-up that mimics the sport or exercise you're about to partake. You'll burn more calories and target the muscles you'll actually be using. "Dynamic warm-ups switch on both your software (nervous system) and hardware (muscle) to best prepare the body for exercise," says Comana.

For example, before going out for a run, try:

Backwards running/short steps: Run backwards in short, quick steps while swinging your arms rapidly; focus on using the ball of your foot.

Backwards running/long steps: Take exaggerated strides backwards, knees slightly bent without locking them, and keep the emphasis on landing on your toes.

High Skips: Skip using exaggerated arm swings -- try to get those knees to 90-degree angles; concentrate on height.


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