To burn fat and build muscle, combining cardio (aerobic) exercise and strength training is key. Cardio exercise can be classified as anything that raises your heart rate. This can include running, biking, swimming, even dancing! The most important step in deciding what type of cardio exercise is right for you is finding something you actually enjoy doing. Once you find something you like and can look forward to, half the battle is won.
Once you’ve found a form of cardio that works for you, you can introduce weights into your workout. It’s important to start small. 3-10 pound weights should be sufficient for anyone to burn fat and build lean muscle. Incorporating strength training into a cardio workout can be done in a number of ways. The most simple and effective way to do this is through circuit training. Circuit training combines high intensity (i.e. “giving it all you’ve got”) aerobic exercise with resistance training, so it’s perfect for burning fat and building lean muscle. Many different exercises are used in circuit training, so it’s ideal for those who get bored easily or those who are already bored with their daily workout. And you can pick and choose your exercises to meet your own personal needs. The exercises are performed in rapid succession, with no or very little rest periods in between. Once you complete one “circuit”, start over from the beginning and do it again.
An example of a circuit would be as follows:
Push-ups, maximum in 1 minute.
Squats with weights, maximum amount in 1 minute
Sit-ups, maximum in 1 minute
Tricep extensions, maximum in 1 minute.
Lunges with weights, each leg, maximum in 1 one minute.
Crunches, maximum in 1 minute.
Pull-ups, maximum in 1 minute.
Stationary biking at high intensity for 2 minutes.
Repeat this “circuit” three times for maximum fat burning benefits.
Another excellent fat burning workout is High Intensity Interval Training, or HITT. HIIT is simple and extremely effective at burning fat. It’s also designed to fit a supreme workout into a short amount of time.
The best thing about HIIT is that it can be incorporated into nearly any cardio routine. First, select a cardio exercise, such as running. Walk or jog for 2-3 minutes to warm up. When you’re ready, start running at a moderate pace. Stay at about 50% intensity for one minute, then slowly build in intensity until you’re performing at your peak level; in other words, until you’re “giving it all you’ve got”. Maintain this high intensity for as long as you can. For beginners, this could be as little as 20 or 30 seconds. Those who are more advanced may be able to sustain peak performance levels for two minutes or more. After this high intensity interval, simply drop back into moderate exercise for one minute. Repeat intervals for up to 20 minutes.
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