To maximize your calorie burn during workouts, you’ll need to balance your heart rate and the amount of resistance you use during your exercises. Adding resistance to aerobic workouts will help you burn more calories during your exercise routines and create a longer post-workout calorie burn. Reducing your resistance to create anaerobic interval workouts will also help you create workouts with a high calorie burn.
If you’re just getting into exercise, you won’t be able to jog, work at a vigorous intensity or use heavy weights or significant resistance for very long. Your best bet is to find the highest heart rate you can maintain for at least 15 minutes, adding five minutes to your workouts each week. Start at a speed comparable to a brisk walk. While you’re building your stamina and endurance, add some 5- or 10-pound dumbbells or resistance-band exercises to help build muscle and raise your calorie burn. Try power walking, swimming with a kickboard, riding a bike, hula hooping, walking stairs or using a cardio machine at a moderate intensity. Add 30- to 60-second “sprints” of higher intensity movements, followed by two or three minutes of recovery.
Steady-State Cardio Workouts
Exercise at 70 percent to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate for 30 minutes or more for a high calorie burn and efficient fat burning. To increase your calorie burn during these types of workouts, include a 60- or 90-second sprint, or interval, every five minutes followed by at least two minutes of lower-intensity recovery before going back to your normal workout heart rate. Raise the incline or resistance settings on cardio machines to increase your calorie burn.
Circuit-Training Cardio Workouts
Instead of using one or two cardio machines, a dance routine or other steady-state method of exercising, try circuit training, moving from exercise to exercise every 60 to 90 seconds. Perform a low-resistance exercise, such as jumping jacks, take a short break, then follow it with a high-resistance exercise, such as chinups, dumbbell flyes or resistance-band biceps curls. Use enough resistance so your muscles are sore by the time you finish each high-resistance exercise, but not so much that you need a few minutes to recover. Keep your breaks to 15 or 30 seconds. Take a breather and water break every 10 minutes, but try to stay between 70 percent and 80 percent of your maximum heart rate for most of the workout. Take the opportunity to use circuit training for targeting problem areas such as thighs, arms and your tummy.
Interval training is similar to circuit training, but you use less resistance so you can work at a much higher intensity. You’ll also take longer breaks because of the intensity of the intervals. Try sprinting at 80 percent to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate for 30 to 90 seconds, depending on your condition, then walking back for two to three minutes. Create sprints in a pool with a fast lap, followed by two relaxed laps or kickboard laps. Use a stationary bike with a low resistance setting. Jump rope hard for 60 seconds, then walk around the room for two minutes. Check with a health professional before starting this type of high-intensity workout.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.