Jimmy Pember, NASM-CPT, Certified Fitness Specialist
Author Steve Stiefel
Posted by FullyFlexed.com
Life, they say, is full of contradictions, so why shouldn’t that also apply to working out? You train regularly with both weights and cardio and carefully watch what you eat, which together are supposed to produce a ripped, muscular physique. There’s the catch: supposed to. But what if you do practically everything you can–truly giving 110% to your training and nutrition efforts–and you’re still a little soft around the middle? Are you forever doomed to wearing tank tops on warm summer days so friends can see your big guns without knowing there’s an inch to pinch?
This being FullyFlexed, we’re not going to recommend an expensive liposuction operation. (Unless, of course, your beloved and rich Uncle Fred left you with several hundred thousand dollars, in which case you can skip this article and call your plastic surgeon.) Rather, we’ve complied a series of tips, tweaks and techniques for you to add to what you’re already doing during the course of a day. Instead of asking you to drop your workouts and follow some one-size-fits-all program, we’ve come up with a list of ways you can increase your caloric deficit each day.
All of the tips presented here use one or more of three bodyfat-fighting strategies: reducing the amount of food you eat (the calories you take in), increasing the amount of exercise you perform (the calories you burn) and boosting your metabolic rate (the number of calories your body requires for body weight maintenance).
Added together, these tips and strategies could theoretically help you synergistically burn up to 3,650 calories a day, but most individuals will want to pick and choose items that allow them to burn up to 1,500 calories (Number of calories burned is based on a 200-pound man who exercises four times a week and currently consumes enough calories for bodyweight maintenance. The total number of calories you burn will likely vary.) a day without requiring a significant change to diet or training regimen. You can still perform the same weight-training exercises and routines–just add our training and nutrition tips to the mix.
1 - Add intervals to your cardio work – The Caloric Effect: 150
The Technique: “Interval training burns more calories than steady-state training because you can do more work in the same amount of time,” says Tom Seabourne, who has a PhD in exercise science and is author of Athletic Abs with Scott Cole (Human Kinetics, 2002). To use this calorie-burning technique, Seabourne suggests that you include sprints with your jogging, add jogging to your fast-paced walking or increase the difficulty level or pace when using cardio equipment. “Add 60 seconds of interval training every other minute or so. The harder you work, the more calories you’ll burn,” Seabourne advises.
- Comment: Not only do you burn more calories during these intense interval cycles, but they also rev up your calorie-burning during the hours following your training.
The Technique: “This technique shakes up your workout,” says Steve Zim, fitness expert for NBC’s Weekend Today. “A lot of people get stuck using the same weights and reps over and over. Their bodies acclimate to the workload, and they don’t burn as many calories as they would if they provided their body with unexpected stimulation.” Increasing your training weights 5%-10% is a great way to do this.
- Comment: Research shows that heavy training (in the 6-8-rep range) increases metabolic rate over the subsequent two days, helping you burn up to 600 calories more than after lightweight training (12-15-rep range). In addition, by raising your weight just 5%, you may find yourself more inspired, encouraging you to work harder and burn even more calories.
The Technique: Got a favorite cardio machine in the gym? Ditch it. You may be surprised by how much more beneficial cross-training is vs. performing the same exercise during every cardio session. “When you include a variety of cardio machines in your routines–treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, cross-country ski machine, stair-stepper–you stimulate the same muscles in new ways or even work different muscle groups. The more groups you use that are unaccustomed to training, the harder you must work at an exercise, thus you burn more calories,” says Seabourne.
- Comment: Use your heart rate as a guide to ensure that you achieve the same level of intensity on different pieces of equipment. Some machines feel more difficult than others, even if they’re set at a level below where you should be training.
The Technique: “Try to avoid taking more than one rest day at a time,” Zim says. “You need a rest day after every 3-4 days of training in a row, but subsequent rest days can begin to lower your metabolic rate.”
- Comment: For the best effect on both metabolism and muscle recovery, strive to train three days on, one day off. To keep up your metabolic rate, take off a second or third day only when you feel overtrained or under the weather. Even though you don’t feel like hitting the gym on those days, try doing some kind of aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes.
The Technique: “Instead of doing an hour-and-a-half workout in the morning, try doing 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes after work,” says Zim. This revs up your metabolic rate twice a day instead of once. During the last half of a long training session, you may work out with less intensity because of fatigue; by splitting your training, you recover enough to burn more calories in your second 45-minute installment.
- Comment: Calorie-burning can vary based on your intensity. The effects of two metabolism-boosting sessions will stay with you all day.
The Technique: “Spices such as red pepper and cayenne can significantly crank up your metabolic rate and decrease your overall food intake,” explains Zim.
- Comment: The number of calories you burn from this technique is correlated to the amount of low-calorie spices you consume. The more spices you add to your food, the greater their effect on your metabolic rate.
The Technique: Keeping a food journal can have a surprising effect on your discipline, because it makes you think about everything you put into your mouth. Just by committing to write down all the food you eat, you’re less likely to include unhealthy foods in your diet.
- Comment: Whether this has a minimal or profound psychological effect on you, it provides you with valuable information about your nutritional habits.
The Technique: Eat your calories instead of drinking them. Ingesting more liquid calories is a good weight-gaining strategy because they’re easier to consume when you don’t have an appetite. On the flip side, liquid calories don’t satisfy you as much as solid foods. Sodas, milk, juice, sugar added to drinks such as coffee or tea and other caloric beverages are a significant source of calories for many people. Try drinking only water, plain tea, black coffee or diet (no-calorie) beverages for a couple of weeks and see if you notice a difference in your bodyfat stores.
- Comment: The caloric effect depends on how many calories you consume in liquid form. Be careful if you typically get a lot of your protein from milk and protein shakes–you’ll need to consume this nutrient in different ways.
The Technique: When you drink green tea and coffee, you may notice the energizing effect they have on your body. “Green tea and black coffee also boost your metabolism without adding significant calories to your diet,” says Zim. In addition, these caffeinated beverages tend to reduce appetite, helping you further cut calorie consumption.
- Comment: While the metabolic boost from caffeine is small, the decrease in calories consumed can be significant.
The Technique: Cutting back on carbs during the later part of the day is smart for two reasons: One, you decrease the number of calories you consume each day, and two, you reduce the amount of insulin your body must produce, which decreases the amount of fat your body stores. You don’t need to eliminate pasta or potatoes, but cut back on them late in the day, eating one-third to one-half of your normal servings.
- Comment: Pro body-builders know this is one of the most significant ways to reduce stored bodyfat. But if you train late in the day, get some carbs after your workout to replenish muscle glycogen stores
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