1. Incorporate Sprints and True HIIT
Sprinting builds fast-twitch muscle fibers and is highly effective for fat burning. It doesn’t need to be done at the track; you can sprint on any piece of cardio equipment that allows you to go “all out.” This includes the bike, elliptical, rower, and stair climber. Sessions should be short, or 15-20 minutes. Shoot for sprints between 6-20 seconds. Rest 2-3 minutes in between. 4-8 sprints total is all you need. Sprints are different than regular interval training, as you’re putting maximum effort into each sprint. Interval training typically is performed at around 70-80% of max effort, the intervals tend to be longer, and the recovery between intervals is shorter. Both will help boost metabolism, but sprints will help boost EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), or afterburn 24-48 hours after you’re done with the workout!
Sample bike sprint workout:
- With resistance at 15, sprint all out for 15 seconds.
- Rest 2-3 minutes, or until your heart rate is less than 60% of max (220 – age).
- Repeat 4 more times.
- Cool down for 5 minutes and stretch.
2. Opt for Compound Movements over Isolation Movements
Compound movements are exercises where more than one joint is moving. Examples of this are squats, pull ups, bench press, and rows. Compound exercises use more muscle and burn more calories than isolation movements or exercises where only one joint is moving. As an example, instead of doing biceps curls and triceps extensions, try doing close-grip chin ups and close-grip bench press.
Sample compound movement arm day workout:
- Close grip bench, 4×8
- Inverted row on smith machine, 4xAMRAP
- Decline diamond pushups, 4xAMRAP
- Close-grip pull downs (thumbs wrapped around bar), 4×8
- Superset of biceps curls, and overhead triceps extensions, 4×8
3. Supplement Wisely
Fish oil, essential amino acids, and protein can all help increase or maintain muscle. If you add muscle to your physique, your metabolism will increase. Fish oil works in the body to reduce inflammation, and aids in recovery. Essential amino acids provide all the amino acids that our bodies can’t produce. When taken after a workout, they can help keep muscle from breaking down. Protein is the building block of muscle. It can be difficult to get 1g of protein per pound of body weight per day. Protein shakes offer a quick solution to this – aim for between 20 and 30 grams of protein post-workout.
4. Bust Stress
Stress increases cortisol levels, which may make you hold fat in your stomach and lower body. It’s not possible to go hard all the time. The gym tears down and rest repairs. Some of us can go weeks without a day off and feel great, while others need a day or two per week to feel their best. I try to take one day off per week and do nothing exercise related. Mindset is important, too.
Sleep is key in boosting metabolism. With insufficient sleep, the body releases less leptin – a key hormone for regulating appetite. In turn, the body releases more ghrelin, or the hormone that signals hunger. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with a higher body mass index, or BMI. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep and try to fall asleep and wake around the same time. Unplug from electronics about an hour before bed, as this will give you time to unwind and will limit the amount of blue light you’re exposed to. Light from electronics can trick the body into thinking it’s daylight, and cause a reduction in melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep.