Fitness Articles

10 Smart Ways to Burn More Calories

Crank Up Your Cardio!

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We all like to get more done in less time, right? We shop from our computers to forgo waiting in lines at department stores and microwave our foods to cut down on cooking time. Some of us even take multitasking to new levels by checking our email while watching television and sipping our morning coffee. And it makes sense. After all, what do we all want more of when it comes down to it? Time. Although spending time working out is a great way to beat stress and get healthy, most of us are usually trying to squeeze in workouts during our already hectic schedules. And when you are able to get to the gym or find that 30 minutes for cardio, don't you want to make the most of every minute?

No matter what type of cardio you do, you can burn more calories in the same amount of time with just a few modifications to your current workout.

10 Ways to Crank Up Your Cardio
 
1. Do cardio first. Over the years, many clients have asked me, "Should I do weights or cardio first?" If you want to up your calorie burn (and who doesn't?), research shows that you should do cardio first. Published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, one study examined how many calories exercisers burned doing one of four workout combinations: running only, strength training only, running followed by strength training, and strength training followed by running. Researchers found that while all exercisers experienced a strong "after burn" (a higher rate of calories burned when at rest after exercise) for the two hours after working out, the strength training and run/strength training groups had the highest exercise after burn of all. So what does this mean? Although it's just one study, the takeaway is that we might burn more calories after working out if we do our cardio first.


2. Try plyometrics. If you consider yourself an intermediate or advanced exerciser and are looking for ways to burn more calories, plyometrics are the way to go. These high-intensity, explosive exercises such as jumping and hopping, get your heart rate up quickly, which equals a higher rate of calories burned. Additionally, these athletic movements really target your fast-twitch muscles, coordination and agility, so you're training your body in an entirely new and challenging way. And challenging workouts almost always equal results—and more calories burned. Because using proper form is essential when doing these advanced high-impact moves, consider learning the ropes first!

3. Use your whole body. Most cardio exercises focus on the lower body (biking, walking, elliptical, stair climbing, etc.), but if you want to burn more calories, one easy tip is to incorporate your upper body. Pump those arms hard and high when running and walking, make sure to grab the elliptical with moving handles, and even consider adding a more full-body exercise to your cardio mix such as the rowing machine. The more muscles you move, the more calories you will burn!

4. Get intense. If you're serious about wanting to burn more calories, then it's time to up the intensity. Bump up your incline and resistance if you're on a piece of gym equipment, or walk a hillier route than usual if you exercise outdoors. To increase the burn, you need to get out of your cardio comfort zone. And when you do, the benefits can be big. In a study published in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports Medicine in 2002, researchers found that intense exercise resulted in the greatest fat burn (compared to light intensity exercise and no exercise at all) during the hours following a workout—and that fat burn continued for 11 hours.

5. Listen to fast music. If you seem to have trouble pumping yourself up for a workout, try popping in those earbuds! In a small study by the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, scientists found that when male college students pedaled stationary bicycles while listening to fast popular music, the subjects pedaled faster and elevated their heart rates more. The students even perceived their workouts to be less intense than they actually were. And when the music slowed down? The opposite happened. So listen to music you love and get your cardio on!

6. Use proper form. Do you hold on to the handles when you run on the treadmill? Maybe you lean on the handlebars during spinning class or hunch over while walking on the Stairmaster. If you use these machines, you need to use proper form in order to burn more calories. As a general rule, keep your arms moving freely and naturally, keep your abs in, your weight centered over your hips, and your shoulders down and back. Not only does proper form keep you from getting injured, it also ups your calorie burn since your core is engaged. Bonus!

7. Speed up. The simplest advice of all for upping your calorie burn? Increase your pace even if it's just a little bit. The tortoise may have won the race, but the hare burned more calories!

8. Add some intervals. By varying your intensity through different intervals (think one minute running then two minutes walking), you can actually improve your fitness more quickly than by steady state cardio, and you can burn more calories. The bonus? Time seems to fly when you add interval training!

9. Focus. We talk a lot about the importance of the mind-body connection and fitness. Although cardio isn't as Zen-like as yoga, cardio can still benefit from a strong sense of awareness. The next time you do cardio, focus on the movements and breathing while squeezing those muscles. By engaging your mind, you can actually better engage your muscles, which allows you to complete the exercise more easily and still burn more calories!

10. Don't work too hard. This might sound counter-intuitive but hear me out. We all know how important intensity is to any workout plan, but also think about how your workout affects the rest of your day. If you spend an hour at the gym sprinting and doing lunges, you might burn 600 calories in a short amount of time, but if that intense workout completely wipes you out for the rest of the day, the extra calorie burn might not be worth it. Be honest with yourself and definitely push yourself, but not so hard that it gets in the way of other daily activities. After all, the goal is to improve your quality of life.
 
Follow these tips and you will burn more fat and increase your fitness level in no time!

Source List:
Burning Calories!, from HealthNewsDigest.com
Study: Effects of music tempo upon submaximal cycling performance, from Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Volume 25 - Issue 2

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Member Comments

  • I meant I knew about the cardio First. I can't find any editing here. Sorry!
  • Great tips! I must say I do about the cardio First, but I hate being all sweaty on the weight machines after cardio, and I hate seeing the machines gross and someone doesn't wipe down after they use machines. So using the weight machines for me First I feel better and not all sweaty. I will try again, but I know that is a tough one for me. I bring my towel to every machine and wipe down after my use, but most people at my gym never have a towel. So gross!
  • or work in the garden pulling weeds, raking, digging up big old weeds,,, that got the old heart rate up!! and accomplished something, too!
  • RITUPARKAR
    You can also burn your calories by eating negative calorie food. Those foods that burns more calories in the process of being eaten and getting digested by the stomach than it provides to the body is called negative calorie food.

    Negative Calorie Fruits: Blueberry, apples, cranberry, grapefruit, lemon, honey dew melon, watermelon, blueberry, grape fruit, orange and strawberry.

    Negative Calorie Vegetables: Celery, lettuce, cabbage, Asparagus, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, papaya, beans, radishes and zucchini. (Read in details ..http://bit.ly/1
    MKfKCV)
  • These ideas are mostly good, and can break a plateau. if you find what works best for you. No one said it would be easy.
  • The reason the Strength Training groups had a longer calorie burn is from the simple fact~ST burns calories LONGER and Cardio burns calories FASTER.
  • BWAYMIRE2
    Thanks for these pointers, will keep these in mind and review these often to remind me why I am doing them and to keep motivated, Thanks.
  • Just wanted to add that listening to music while exercising in a safe environment (i.e. not running outside) would seem to make sense.
  • Nice article with some great advice. However, there are two issues that I question. First, listening to fast music. This is fine if you are running on a treadmill or elliptical, or using a stationery bike. However, if you are running outside where there is traffic, listening to music interferes with your ability to hear traffic and other noises. It's no surprise that many races prohibit the wearing of ear buds. I know many people listen to music while running on streets, however, no matter how careful you are, your hearing is still impaired. You can not hear the same with buds plugging your ears with music piping in as you can if your ears are free from obstructions. That's just basic knowledge. I would leave the music for the treadmill.

    The other issue that I question is the focus on breathing, but this one is more of a personal one. Focusing on my breathing is the last thing I want to do when I run. I completely ignore my breathing; that is what helps me truly enjoy my run. Focusing on breathing while running, for me, make breathing laborious, and running laborious, and not in the good way that the article intends. I'm curious about how other runners feel about this.
    The other suggestions are great. I run on hills every day. It's hard to avoid them where I live; it's a good thing I enjoy running on hills!
  • For me, if I do cardio first, I'm psyched up to do the Strength Training; vice-versa, and I'm pooped--must be that runner's high phenom. 8-)
  • Great advice - especially not to burn yourself out. (You burn zero calories when sidelined by injury!) I love intervals. The only bit of advice I question is the "do cardio first" ... I've seen many articles / studies that say the opposite. In the end, I guess it doesn't much matter. If you're doing BOTH strength training and cardio, you're doing awesome regardless of "proper order." Keep sparking everyone!
  • RACESMITH
    nice post on burning calories. I tried all these steps one by one and found it quite pleasing. I highly recommend this strategies in life. Thank you

    Also i found another site similar to your topic. Can i follow that as well.
    www.rapidweight
    losscare.com
  • I do cardio first. Usually the stairsmaster on level 16 to start and by the time I end I'm at level 20. I do it for only 15 minutes but according to the machine I burn about 330 calories in the 15 mins. I then do 10 minutes of running followed by about 45 mins of strenght training training and lifting and finish off with 10 more minutes of more stairsmaster. Occasionally I may skip the running. Upping my cardio has allowed me to reach my goals faster. Started at 259 weighed in at 216 this morning.
  • TEXASTOPAZ15
    As someone who worked as a personal trainer, I would say proper form is key. I've seen too many people do certain exercises in completely the wrong way!

    Also agree with previous comment: Be careful with plyometrics. It can be too harsh for some people's joints, and those like me who have internal organ displacement.

    As with ANY exercise program, you should always consult your doctor before beginning.
  • Be careful with plyometrics - they can be hard on the joints.

About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

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