1. Add Interval Training

Interval training, otherwise known as speed play, has been shown to be one of the most effective methods to rev up your metabolism and burn fat, especially around the abdomen. During this time of training, you alternate between intense and moderate exercises to engage the aerobic and anaerobic systems. When you’re working out at close to your maximum potential, lactic acid builds up as your body depletes its available oxygen. Then, when you slow down, oxygen floods into your system, breaking down the lactic acid and turning carbohydrates into energy. As you add more interval-training to your routine, your body will become more efficient at bringing oxygen to your muscles and burning fat. One way to incorporate this type of working out into your routine is by walking for 2 minutes and then running for 2 minutes and then walking again for 2 minutes, and so on. In this chapter, we’ll provide a variety of exercises that are great for improving heart health and boosting metabolism. You can use all of them to develop a fun interval-training routine.

2. Stick with One Sport and Ramp Up the Intensity

In an Australian study, female volunteers either rode a stationary bike for 40 minutes at a steady pace or for 20-minute intervals, alternating 8 seconds of sprints and 12 seconds of easy pedaling. After 15 weeks, those who incorporated the sprints into their cardio workouts had lost three times as much body fat, including thigh and core flab, compared with those who exercised at a steady pace. Bursts of speed may stimulate a fat-burning response within the muscles, says lead researcher Ethlyn Gail Trapp, PhD.

Whether you ride, run, or row, try ramping things up to rev your burn: Start by doing three 8-seconds all-out, can’t-talk sprints with 12 seconds at an easy pace between each effort. Work your way up until you can do 10 sprints over 20 minutes.

3. Choose Another Sport and Cross-Train

Cross-training is when you do more than one sport during your workouts. It adds variety to your workouts and decreases the chance of burnout. Cross-training also offers opportunities to exercise muscles not being utilized in your primary exercise, and allows muscles used more frequently an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate. Cross-training, of course, helps you keep active every day and provides an extra way to burn fat and boost your metabolism. There are many varieties of exercise available, some of which we’ll discuss next.

4. Take a Kickboxing Class

Release some of that aggression in a kickboxing class where you’ll learn to combine martial arts kicks with boxing punches for a great workout. There are many different styles of kickboxing and variants to choose from, including Brazilian jiujitsu, Muai Thai, Burmese kickboxing, American kickboxing, Indian adithada, and French savate, to name a few. Many of the kickboxing forms and styles have evolved into national and international competitions. As a kickboxer, you typically “fight” in rounds of varying duration (these are usually agreed upon prior to the fight). You get a great cardio workout regardless of the form of kickboxing you choose, and when you study it with a spouse or a friend you can practice (and get in shape) together.

5. Go Swimming

Oh, go jump in a lake. No, really. Swimming is one of the best exercises you can do. It provides a total-body workout but is also low-impact so it won’t hurt your joints as it improves stamina and flexibility. Although your maximum heart rate may be up to 30 beats lower when you’re working out in the water, you’re still burning a significant amount of calories and your lungs are taking in more oxygen than if you were resting and that helps burn fat.

6. Try an Egrometer Workout

One popular cross-training machine is the egrometer, or rowing machine. As scullers have known for centuries, rowing is a terrific all-body exercise, strengthening your back, buttocks, and legs and developing your shoulders and arms. Rowing involves a two-stroke movement referred to as the drive and the recovery, which together produce a smooth and continuous action. It’s important to follow good form on a rowing machine, so make sure you ask your health club to show you how to use it properly. This is another highly beneficial activity to do on a rest day. It strengthens the hips, buttocks, and upper body while sparing your legs.

7. Get on the NordicTrack

Another machine that provides a great upper-and lower-body workout is the NordicTrack. The NordicTrack and other machines that simulate cross-country skiing can be very effective in improving your coordination and balance while they work to increase your stamina, build muscles, and improve your overall aerobic fitness.

8. Use the Elliptical Trainer

For those of you who hate the treadmill, but want a full-body workout on an aerobic machine, check out the elliptical trainer. By combining cross-country skiing with climbing stairs and walking, the machine is able to provide an excellent cardiovascular workout without hurting your joints. The motion works all of the major muscle groups in your legs and offers the option to move backward and really focus on those glutes. Another great benefit of the machine is that you can adjust the program to your strength level, which allows both beginners and more advanced athletes to get a solid workout as they increase the resistance.

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