Simple Exercises That Burn Fat & Build Muscle

Simple Exercises That Burn Fat & Build Muscle

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Reduce portion sizes and eat more veggies to lose fat and keep calorie consumption in check.

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When you're trying to burn fat and build muscle, don't get overwhelmed with all the choices of equipment and exercises you're likely to have at your disposal. Your exercise plan could be an elaborate one, but a back-to-basics approach can be just as helpful for achieving your goals. Your biggest allies here are going to be simple cardio exercises as well as basic resistance exercises you can do from anywhere.

Do-Anywhere Cardio

There are exercises out there that don't require any equipment beyond a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes -- and lucky you, they're also great calorie-burners. When time is short, you can't get much more no-fuss than jogging or walking, which you can do nearly anywhere. Jogging at a moderate pace of 5 miles per hour -- or a 12-minute mile -- will help a 185-pound person burn about 355 calories in 30 minutes. Speed up to a 6-mile-per-hour pace -- or a 10-minute mile -- and a person of that same weight will burn about 444 calories in 30 minutes. A helpful thing to keep in mind: You need to create a 3,500-calorie deficit to burn 1 pound of fat. If you're not quite ready to run, start out walking, or try a jog-walk combo in which you run a block and then walk two, gradually adding more jogging. Walking and jogging will tone up the lower body, but adding hills will help build even more muscle in the butt and quads.

Add a Jump Rope to Your Gym

When the weather turns nasty or you don't have a treadmill to jog on, jumping rope is a simple alternative that burns a lot of calories. A 185-pound person can expect to burn about as many calories jumping rope as running at that 12-mile-per-hour pace -- or about 444 calories in 30 minutes. Jumping rope also will work most of the muscles of your body, including your back, arms, legs, butt, shoulders and core. Since you spend a lot of time on your toes, it's especially good for toning the calves. It's also a version of a plyometric or "jump training" workout, which will help you develop explosive power in your legs.

Bodyweight Exercises

To burn the calories that lead to fat loss, try to run, walk or jump rope three to five days a week for at least 30 minutes. To build real muscle, however, you have to do dedicated strength-building exercises. That doesn't have to include a gym either. In fact, a lot of the oldies but goodies are still highly effective, and you can do them right in your living room. Pushups work the chest, shoulders and triceps. Pullups work the back, shoulders, arms and chest. For the lower body, lunges and squats are effective for the butt and thighs. Add in bicycle crunches or raised-leg crunches to strengthen the abdominals. The primary purpose for doing these exercises is to build muscle, but by rapidly moving from one exercise to the next without much recovery time in between, you'll also get some cardiovascular benefits. Since muscle tissue uses more energy than fat tissue, building muscle means you'll burn more calories throughout the day.

Adding Resistance

Bodyweight exercises are great for someone looking for the simplest exercises out there -- but to really gain significant muscle, your muscles need to experience fatigue at the end of a set. Each set should last no longer than 90 seconds, according to the American Council on Exercise. Over time, then, you may need additional resistance to create that fatigue. One easy way to add more resistance is to use a set of dumbbells or resistance tubing. Dumbbells are incredibly diverse and can be used for biceps curls, triceps kickbacks, chest flys, overhead and bench presses, squats and lunges. If you're traveling, pack a resistance band or two, which you can also use for curls, presses and squats.

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