Juggling a fat-burning fitness routine with a full-time job is difficult; it's even harder if you want a clean house and a social life as well. One way to balance having a personal life outside the gym with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation of a minimum of 150 minutes of cardio and two sessions of strength training per week is to do efficient total-body workouts, which combine cardio with weight training to maximize fat burning.
Total-body strength training burns fat in two ways. First, as you exercise you burn fat by elevating your heart rate and expending energy to lift weights. Second, because muscle mass is more metabolically active than fat, increasing muscle mass raises your resting metabolic rate, causing you to burn more calories even at rest. Another benefit of strength training is that muscles are firmer and more compact than fat, making your favorite outfits look and fit better.
You don't actually gain strength during a workout. Strength training breaks down muscle fibers, and then, after you finish working out, your body repairs damaged muscle fibers by rebuilding them with larger, stronger fibers. Because recovery is essential to strength training, do total-body workouts on three nonconsecutive days each week to allow adequate recovery time between workouts.
Types of Exercise
A total body workout uses all major muscles groups in both pushing and pulling directions. In order to work your upper body, lower body and core most efficiently, build your program around exercises that use multiple major muscle groups simultaneously, such as squats and chest presses, rather than emphasizing isolation exercises that work only one muscle group at a time, such as biceps curls and leg extensions. Although you can do a total-body workout using resistance bands, body weight or free weights, cable and selectorized machines allow you to move more quickly from station to station and are easier to adjust and use correctly.
Total Body Circuit
Start your total-body workout with a 10-minute, moderate-intensity cardio warm-up. Next, choose eight to 12 strength-training exercises, using weights you can lift no more than 15 times. Plan a circuit alternating muscle groups so you can move directly from one station to the next to maintain your heart rate in the aerobic range for extra fat burning. A typical exercise sequence might be chest presses, leg presses, lat pulldowns, stability ball crunches, seated rows, side bends, dumbbell flyes, Roman chair back extensions and overhead presses. Perform three circuits of eight to 12 repetitions. For extra fat burning, finish with 20 to 30 minutes of total body cardio such as stationary rowing or the elliptical trainer with arms.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Weight - It's Not a Diet, It's a Lifestyle!
- BodyBuilding.com: Rest & Overtraining
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- American Council on Exercise GetFit: Circuit Training
- BodyBuilding.com: Lose Body Fat Now: The Most Effective Methods Explained
- Bodybuilding.com: Cardio Circuit Training
Carol Poster began writing professionally in 1974. Her articles have appeared in "Outdoor Woman," "Paddler," "Ski Magazine," "Women's Sports & Fitness," "Dance News," "Show Business," "The Athenian," "PC Resource" and "Utah Holiday," among other publications. Poster holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Eastern Washington University, as well as a Ph.D. in English from the University of Missouri.