I had a friend who was 40 pounds overweight. One day he decided that as motivation to lose the excess pounds he would enter and train for an upcoming race. The poor guy ran for 6 days a week and much to my surprise, he followed his regimen zealously. 6 weeks go by and the guy has maybe shed about 6 pounds from his desired total. He was running faster and farther than he ever could before but the gut was there to stay. So why after so much exercise was he not achieving his goal? First, because the guy would go out with the rest of his friends and munch down on typical guys’ night out food: pizza, beer, hot wings and pasta, and second, because steady cardiovascular exercise doesn’t burn fat calories the way strength training does.
Muscles use a large amount of calories to keep themselves nourished. They eagerly await those calories that you are ingesting on a daily basis. It isn’t too difficult to hypothesize then that the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. The most important aspect of this is that your muscles don’t have to be particularly working out in order to reap the benefits. A bulging Hulk will burn more calories by sitting down and watching TV then your average fat-bellied, couch potato. The reason again, more muscles equals more calorie burning, regardless of what state your body happens to be in.
The best muscles to work out are the ones in your large muscle groups. These include your legs, chest, back, and shoulders. These groups of muscle build up the biggest mass and in the shortest amount of time. An added benefit to working the larger muscles is that your metabolism kicks into high gear. So what exactly are the types of exercises you should be doing? There are 3 groups that you will need to focus on: Circuit Training, Compound Exercises, and High Intensity running.
Circuit training is in simple words, doing different exercises one after another with very little rest between exercises. By moving constantly and shortening your rest periods, circuit training keeps your heart rate up throughout your workout. This insures maximum fat burn and gives you a great cardiovascular fitness benefit. If you keep your rest to 30 seconds between exercises and 1 minute between circuits, the time needed to get a good overall workout is cut down drastically.
Compound exercises are exercises that work on multiple muscles with one exercise. These exercises not only make your workout more fun, but they also demand more out of your muscles. Remember, more muscle equals greater fat burning. Combine these types of exercises in circuit training and you will definitely keep your metabolism firing. You can start small, but make sure to make an effort to progress. Some good exercises to start out with are squats, bench press, triceps pushdown, lunges, leg curls, and biceps curls.
High intensity running is great to do in conjunction with the rest of your exercises, but try to do it on your off days from strength training. Remember my overweight friend? He was running too but the reason he failed is because he was always running at the same pace. Have you ever seen one of those marathon runners? Notice how they all seem to have a skinny frame. Now compare them to say a sprint runner. Who seems to have the bigger muscles? Sprint runners are always working on the intensity of their workouts since the demands they place on their body in such a short period of time exceed their counterparts. The majority of fat burning in intensity driven workouts is lost after the workout.
So there you have it. Combine all these exercise groups and follow it with a sensible low calorie diet, and be amazed at how the pounds will start to melt away!
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