Combine Cardio and Strength Training
Fitness buffs know that the key to losing fat and gaining muscle is to get adequate exercise at least three days per week, preferably more if you have the time. What exercises, however, are your best bets to help lose those pesky fat cells?
As an exercise instructor for over 13 years and a dedicated fitness buff for nearly 30 years I have found the following routines to be most effective for women who want to tone muscles, burn fat, and keep the weight off.
This is by far the best workout routine I have ever encountered to bust fat. Because it is a fast-moving workout, it raises your heart rate, and thus, your cardiovascular fitness. What makes kickboxing work so well is its intensity, both on the cardiovascular side and on the muscle-building side. The workout consists of sharp, quick, repetitive movements that quickly tire your muscles. Kickboxing participants are typically quite sore after their first few workouts, thus building muscle quickly. The workout promotes endurance, harmony, and flexibility among your body parts.
The punches involved in kickboxing give you a chance to develop muscles such as biceps and triceps, while various kicks, squats, and lunges work the hamstrings, buttocks, quadriceps, adductor and abductor leg muscles. This occurs while you are working aerobically, so you get a two-for-one punch.
Boot camp training
These classes work on a similar principle as cardio kickboxing, incorporating cardiovascular training as well as muscular endurance into one class, generally an hour or 90 minutes in length. The structure of these classes vary according to the instructor but you can normally expect to find timed intervals that switch between cardio exercises such as obstacle courses, running up and down hills, jump rope, etc., and muscular endurance routines like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, etc. This workout is effective because the muscular endurance segments increase your ability to burn fat while you are burning fat thanks to the elevated heart rate brought about by the aerobic segment.
These are muscular endurance exercises performed with free weights. They are generally performed by working opposing muscles in pairs. For example, the most common pairings are bicep and triceps, abdominals and back muscles, quadriceps and hamstrings, abductor and adductors. The key to making supersets work is to exhaust the muscles during the workout by doing a specified number of repetitions at a heavy enough weight. In other words, doing 12 bicep curls with a five-pound weight, while strengthening the muscle, will not exhaust it. The weight used as well as the number of repetitions required varies from person to person.
This is a relatively new workout that is gaining popularity. Participants attach a bungee like cord around a weighted pole to perform a wide variety of resistance and cardiovascular exercises. The workout promotes strength, flexibility, stability and cardiovascular fitness, all while targeting the body’s core, namely abdominals and back muscles, as well as legs, and to a lesser extent arms.
This is also a relatively new fitness phenomenon which is deceptively difficult. Tread climbers are fitness machines which are hybrids between treadmills and stair climbers. They have two separate revolving belts that you walk on as they ascend and descend separately. Although tread climbers may only be programmed to run up to 4 mph, the workout is intense as the treads are on an incline. Because it is low impact, it’s also a good workout for individuals with knee or back problems.
Core Strength: How to Use the Yoga Abdominal Plank or Hover
While the so-called abdominal hover in its most simple form, adapted from the plank pose in yoga, is a fine exercise core strengthening exercise in and of itself, time will come when you’ll want to try variations on this fundamental and effective drill.
Variations are helpful for several reasons. For one, after several months of the plank your core muscles will adapt and the plank will become easier; once your muscle fibers become accustomed to the drill you’ll experience diminishing returns.
Second, it’s good to add variations to keep yourself engaged mentally. The variations described below, where you turn the plank on its side so that your chest faces out rather than the floor, strengthens the core from different angles than those in the normal horizontal plank pose. Similarly the variation requires your core to create stability from angles far more challenging than the positions the plank normally requires.
Note that despite recent ACL surgery to his right knee (note the knee brace), this variation tests only the model’s core, so that he is still able to execute the variation. Should you try this variation yourself, you’ll find the hand on the hip position more challenging than the arm raised position, mostly because the former, surprisingly, tests your balance more thoroughly.
Also note that the variation can be done two ways: either by using the forearm or the palm of the hand for support.
What to remember
Here are a few elements to remember:
- One is to not allow your downward hip to droop. Otherwise you don’t require your core to stabilize your torso.
- Second is to try to create as straight a line as possible between your ankles and armpits.
- Third is to stack one foot directly on top of the other — splaying your feet lets you balance with your feet rather than with your core.
The next step is to add dynamic range and motion to the plank by sweeping your raised hand down and threading it between your supporting arm’s armpit and the floor. Your balance will truly be tested by this mobile variation on the move. Similarly the rotation will add coordination and flexibility demands to the move: Once you’ve threaded the raised arm and hand, open back up to the start position.
Repeat as many times as comfort allows, then switch sides.