“It’s got to be high intensity, whatever the workout is, if you’re going to torch calories — not just burn them,” says Bret Emery, a behavioral psychologist andweight loss specialist based in Weston, Fla. “Heart rate is key. That’s the speedometer of the body. If we speed the body up, it will burn more calories, just as a car will burn more fuel if it speeds up.”
Also, you need to mix up your workouts so they stay challenging. This will help keep your heart rate up and force your body to burn more calories, Weston says.
The following workouts will zap calories, but they’ll also push your body way past your comfort zone. So check with your doctor before taking on the challenge. Don’t just tell your doctor you want to work out — let him or her know exactly what you’re planning to do. That way, your doctor can make sure you’re ready.
If you’re not active now, remember that it is better to ease into exercise in order to help prevent injury. Even though you may want to go all-out immediately, it’s wiser not to.
Interval training is all about challenge and recovery — over and over — for a cardio blast.
You can do intervals many different ways — running, on any sort of cardio equipment, or in a pool.
This particular workout — which comes from Michael Banks, certified personal trainer and owner of Body by Banks Corporation in Salt Lake City — uses a treadmill. If you’re already fit, you can add dumbbells for an extra challenge.
1. Warm Up: On the treadmill, with the incline set at a challenging angle, power walk at a speed of 3-3.5 for 7 minutes. Keep your elbows up above your heart. Stop, get off the treadmill, and stretch.
2. Sprint: Drop the incline to 0, increase the treadmill speed, and sprint hard for 30 seconds. Aim for 90% of your maximum heart rate. To recover, bring your speed down to 3 and walk for one minute.
3. Squats: Get off the treadmill and squat, with your bottom out to the rear and your legs slightly apart. Then jump from the squatting position into the air, landing in the same squat position as before. Do this for one set of 15 or 20, working your quadriceps. If you’re already in good shape, hold dumbbells by your sides.
4. Overhead Presses: Do 15 or 20 overhead presses with the weights, pushing them straight up and directly over your shoulders.
5. Sprint: Get back on the treadmill and sprint for 30 seconds (no incline). The goal is to be at 80% of your maximum heart rate. To recover, decrease your speed to 3.0 and walk for one minute.
6. Tricep Extensions: Using dumbbells, do one set of 15 or 20 overhead tricep extensions. Your elbows should point toward the ceiling, with the weights behind your head. Lift the weights directly above your head and back down again.
7. Pushups. Do one set of 15 push-ups, with your elbows at a 90-degree angle from the body. Modification: Do the push-ups with your knees on the ground, but do 25 instead of 15.
8. Sprint: Back to the treadmill. Sprint for 1 minute, aiming for 70% of your maximum heart rate. To recover, jog for 90 seconds.
9. Jumping Jacks. Do one set of 15 or 20 jumping jacks. If you’re strong enough, add two 10- or 15-pound dumbbells — lift up the weights when you jump out, in an overhead press position, pulling them back down to shoulder height as your legs go back together.
10. Finale: Incline your treadmill to an angle that really challenges you — but don’t hang onto the treadmill’s rails. Walk at a 2.0-3.5 speed for 30 seconds, aiming for 60% of your maximum heart rate. To recover, bring the treadmill down to a 1.0 incline and drop your speed to 1.9 or 2.0 for a 1-minute walk. Finish by stretching.
Quick CrossFit Series
CrossFit workouts are about getting maximum effort in minimum time.
The following exercises come from Doug Katona, co-founder and owner of CrossFit Endurance in Newport Beach, Calif. They can be done on their own, all together, or in any combination.
- Warm up for 10-12 minutes, finishing the warm-up at 75% of your maximum heart rate or at 7.5 on the perceived exertion scale, in which 0 is no effort and 10 is your max.
- Choose any type of cardio. Do it at your maximum effort for 30 seconds.
- Stop and recover for 2 minutes, or for 90 seconds if you’re already in good condition. Do not shortchange the rest period.
- Do this up to three times.
Body Weight Blast
As fast as you can, do 10 squats, 10 push-ups, and 10 full sit-ups. Then do nine reps of each. Then eight, seven, six, and so forth, until you reach one rep of each exercise. Rest as little as possible between sets. Record your time and try to improve each week.
If you only have a little time, try to do 100 burpees. If that’s too much, start with 25, then move to 50, then to 75, until you can do 100.
Begin in a squat position with your hands on the floor, in front.
- Kick back your feet to a push-up position.
- Return your feet to the squat position.
- Jump from the squat position into the air, straight above you.
- Repeat, moving as fast as possible
Rowing or Indoor Cycling
Don’t overlook the rowing machine and stationary bikes in your gym. You may be sitting down, but you’ll be sweating when you try this workout from Scott Nohejl, coach and program director of The Chatham Area Rowing Association in Savannah, Ga.
- Row or bike for a minute.
- Sprawl with push-up. Run in place, with your feet just coming off the ground, for a count of five. Lower yourself onto your hands, jump your legs backward to a push-up position. Do one push-up, then bring the legs back, tucking them in. Stand and repeat for 1 minute.
- Squats. With hands on top of your head, squat so your knees are at 90 degrees — make sure they do not go past your toes — and then stand up. Repeat for 1 minute.
- Side jumps. With feet together, toes pointed forward, jump from side to side for 1 minute.
- Rest for 5 minutes.
- Row or bike for 1 minute.
- Scissor jumps. With one leg in front and the other in back, jump and “scissor” your legs before landing. Do this for 1 minute.
- Sumo jumps. Squat down, then jump, bringing your feet slightly off the ground. Do this for 1 minute.
- Jumping jacks. Do these for 1 minute.
Repeat the full set four times, nonstop, for a 16-minute workout. Cool down, and then stretch.
The pool isn’t just for cooling off. It’s also a great way to heat up your metabolismand burn maximum calories.
Craig Keller, chair of the U.S. Masters Swimming Coaches Committee and head coach of the Asphalt Green Masters Swim Team in New York City, offers several workouts for swimmers, including two that will work well for people with injuries.
If you like distance, begin with two 500-yard (or meter) freestyle swims on intervals of 6.5 minutes. The quicker you finish, the more time you’ll have to rest. Then swim at an easy pace for two minutes.
Follow that with two 400-yard freestyle swims on a 5.5-minute interval, and another easy, two-minute swim. Finish with two 300-yard swims on 4.5-minute intervals.
Sprinters may prefer this workout:
- Do 20 freestyle lengths (25 yards) with five seconds of rest in between lengths. Recover with a 100-yard swim of your choice, at an easy pace.
- Do 16 25-yard swims of your choice with 10 seconds of rest, followed by another slow-paced 100-yard swim of your choice.
- Next, do 12 25-yard freestyle lengths with 15 seconds of rest between each. Recover with a 100-yard swim.
- End with 8 25-yard freestyle lengths, resting for 20 seconds between lengths.
Got a leg or hip injury? Just grab a buoy and do a “pull swim” instead.
This workout consists of three rounds of four 200-yard freestyle swims. For the first, put the buoy between your ankles and pull the four 200-yard swims on 3-minute intervals. For the second round, remove the buoy and swim, dragging your legs. Do these 200-yard swims on 2.75-minute intervals. For the final round, place the buoy between your legs and pull on 2.5-minute intervals.
If your arms or shoulders are hurting — or you simply want to work your legs — use a kickboard and do two sets of four 100-yard swims, with 20 seconds of rest between each.
For the first 100 yards, kick hard for the first 25 yards, then go easy for the remaining 75 yards. For the second 100 yards, kick hard for 50 and easy for 50. Kick hard for 75 yards, then easy for 25 on the third one. And for the last one, go all out. Repeat the set.