To burn fat in the gym, women require intense exercises that elevate the heart rate and build lean muscle. Muscle building may seem out of place in a fat-burning workout, but it's important for two reasons. First, combined cardio and resistance exercises burn more fat than cardio alone. Second, resistance exercises build lean muscle, which burns fat even after you leave the gym.
At a low to moderate pace of five miles per hour, running burns a respectable 518 calories per hour for a 135-pound woman. Do it every day for a week, and you can burn 3,500 calories, equivalent to 1 pound of body fat.
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Hot yoga, also called Bikram yoga, can burn up to 430 calories in a one-hour session. Even short-term participation in hot yoga resulted in a decrease in body fat, according to a study published in May 2012 in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.” Women who are pregnant or who have any kind of medical condition should consult a physician before participating in this kind of yoga.
If you want to really blast some fat, try high intensity interval training. In a landmark study published in the “Journal of Applied Physiology” in 2006, Canadian researchers found that just seven sessions of interval training exercise increased fat metabolism by 36 percent. Each session included 10, four-minute bursts of vigorous cycling followed by two minutes of rest, repeated for a total of 60 minutes.
Lift Heavy Weights
Lifting heavy weights burns more calories than lifting lighter weights and contributes to increased hypertrophy, or muscle size, which burns calories even while you sleep. Combining heavy weight training with intense cardiovascular exercise -- as seen in circuit training workouts -- will even more efficiently deliver fat-burning results. A circuit resistance training program increases post-exercise oxygen consumption, so you burn more calories immediately following your workout, according to a study published in the August 2005 issue of the “European Journal of Applied Physiology.”
Resist the temptation to divorce muscle building from fat burning, a common problem among women seeking to lose fat. Compound exercises -- such as squats with biceps curls -- build lean muscle while simultaneously burning fat. Furthermore, the lean muscle continues to burn fat even when you're sitting at your office or lounging at the beach.
Hop on the stair climber to burn 430 calories per hour and dramatically reshape the muscles of your lower body. The stair climber uses your own body weight for resistance, providing both a strength and cardiovascular workout.
If your gym has a pool, strap on your goggles and dive in to burn 600 calories per hour by swimming vigorously. Following a 200-meter warmup, use the clock to time your laps. For a novice swimmer, perform a workout of eight, 50-meter laps on the 60 seconds of freestyle, followed by four, 100-meter laps of alternating breaststroke and backstroke at a self-selected pace. Finish the workout with eight, 25-meter sprints at an all-out pace, with 30 seconds of recovery time between laps. Cool down with 200 meters using a stroke of choice.
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Women don't need an opponent to beat fat with boxing. Use your gym's speed bag and heavy bag to burn more than 400 calories per hour. Boxing uses body weight and gloves for resistance and utilizes quick movements for a workout that builds muscle and burns fat, a winning combination. Some boxing websites provide heavy bag drills you can follow to burn fat and improve boxing performance.
Because competitive racquetball keeps players on the run, it can burn more than 600 calories per hour. If you’re not ready to squash an opponent at that level of intensity, casual play still burns more than 400 calories an hour.
Any class that combines weight training and cardio exercise at a moderate to high intensity will incinerate fat. Don't let military-inspired boot camp classes scare you away; they burn fat for women as well as men. Conditioning classes are especially helpful when you need to break through a plateau because they incorporate exercises and acute variables that are likely not part of your regular gym routine.
- Journal of Applied Physiology: Two Weeks of High-Intensity Aerobic Interval Training Increases Fat Oxidation
- Acute EPOC Response in Women to Circuit Training and Treadmill Exercise of Matched Oxygen Consumption
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Bikram Yoga Training and Physical Fitness in Healthy Young Adults
- Health Status: The Most Accurate Calories Burned Calculator
Pamela Ellgen began writing in 2000 for "The Asian Reporter" newspaper. She is an award-winning journalist and writes on religion, culture, health and fitness. Ellgen graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in writing from Washington State University and is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine.