Your metabolism is the key to fat-loss success. The more you can stimulate it, the quicker it runs and the more fat you lose. No other type of training ramps up your metabolism like full-body workouts; the more muscle fibers you hit in each workout, the bigger boost you give your metabolism. You'd be forgiven for thinking that a fat-burning workout would be centered around the treadmill or elliptical, but you couldn't be more wrong. For your metabolic surge workouts, you're going to hit the weights, and hit them hard.
Full-body training is by far the most effective way to stoke your metabolism. The more muscles you can hit in each workout, the more calories you burn and the bigger effect you have on your metabolism. Weight-based full-body workouts are the way to go, as resistance training has a powerful effect on "excess post-exercise oxygen consumption." After a weight workout, it takes more energy and more oxygen for your muscles and nervous system to recover, meaning it raises your metabolic rate far more than cardiovascular training, claims Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico.
Don't mess around with curls and kickbacks -- pick exercises that work multiple muscle groups in one go. Think squats, lunges, clean and presses, deadlifts, rows and pullups. The goal of a metabolic surge workout is not necessarily to engage specific muscle groups, but to get a total-body calorie burn effect, writes Marc Perry, author of the "Get Lean Guide." Metabolic training is very tough, but highly effective, he adds.
You might be more familiar with the idea of straight sets, where you perform each exercise in turn, resting between every set, but metabolic surge training is a whole different ball game. Pair four exercises together in a mini circuit, and perform each with no rest in between. After you've done all four, take one to two minutes to rest and then go again, advises Rachel Cosgrove, trainer and owner of "Results Fitness in California." You don't have to do your exercises for a designated number of reps either, writes strength coach Jen Comas Keck. You could do each one for time, by performing as many reps as possible in 30 or 45 seconds on each exercise before switching to the next.
Pick any exercises, with any amount of reps and in any order, provided they fit the guidelines. For example, make your first four-exercise circuit consist of dumbbell squats, pushups, standing cable rows and burpees, each for 15 repetitions performed twice. Rest for three minutes, then move on to a second circuit of alternating barbell lunges, chinups (using an assistance machine if needed), dumbbell bench presses and reverse crunches, each for 45 seconds. In each workout, aim to increase the weights you're lifting, add on reps or time, or perform a third circuit.
- Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images