When it comes to losing weight, optimizing a workout for maximum calorie burn is key.
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Burning calories is the Holy Grail for anyone who's looking to shed extra pounds, but how you go about it can make all the difference in your ultimate success.
Since every person's body is different in terms of size, shape, and cardiovascular health, it's almost impossible to come up with a universal calorie-burning plan that works the same across the board. A person's fitness level, weight, and the type of exercise makes a difference in calorie burn.
For example, a 155-pound person walking at a brisk pace of 3.5 miles per hour would need to walk for about 6 hours to burn 900 calories. On the other hand, a 185-pound person traveling at the same speed could burn 900 calories in only 5 hours. For a smaller person weighing only 125 pounds, it would take 7.5 hours at that walking speed to knock out the 900 calories.
All of that said, if you're looking for a way to efficiently burn the most calories possible in one workout session, there are a few rules of thumb to follow.
Jumping From One Exercise to the Next
"High-intensity interval training is one of the best ways to burn the most calories," says Sanja Brosnan of Sanja Brosnan Training. The key is to switch up your movements while keeping your heart rate up to burn calories.
When it comes to determining your heart rate, it's a tricky area since everyone's fitness levels and bodies are different. While you can burn calories during a leisurely evening stroll, experts often point to keeping your heart rate between 70 to 85 percent of its maximum capacity in order to really burn calories at a vigorous intensity. How this rule of thumb translates to each individual, however, is where the math can get murky. For some, walking up a flight of stairs may get them to that heart rate, while others may have to sprint those same steps in order to achieve 80 percent of their maximum heart rate.
Instead of focusing on the numbers, Brosnan suggests that you concentrate on simply listening to your body and optimizing the time you have to work out. Whether you're very fit or just starting out, interval training offers the best results in the smallest amount of time.
Brosnan recommends starting with a series of 10 squats, followed by 30 seconds of jumping jacks, and then moving on to the next exercise quickly, such as planks or lunges. Whatever the exercise, the key, Brosnan says, is to keep your heart rate going as you transition from one exercise to the next by doing jumping jacks (or jump rope) in between.
You can also do this in the gym, going from one piece of equipment to the next with jumping jacks in between. "Your goal should be to do seven, seven-minute circuits for optimal calorie burning," says Brosnan.
Walk, Run, Sprint
Another great way to burn the most calories is to turn your daily jog into walk-run sprints. Brosnan suggests that you walk for 20 seconds and then run for 20 seconds. As you build endurance, turn your 20-second run into a 15-second sprint, followed by 20 seconds of walking.
By repeating the walk-run (or sprint) intervals over the course of 30 to 45 minutes, you'll be burning calories you wouldn't have been able to with a simple two- or three-mile run. In other words, go for time rather than distance and alternate your strides throughout.
Jumping Into Burpees
If you don't know what burpees are, you should become acquainted with them, because as calorie-burning exercises go, they are some of the best. A burpee is a four-step exercise:
- From standing, squat down and put your hands on the floor
- Kick your feet back to a plank position
- Perform a push-up
- Jump back into a squat and either stand back up or jump up
While Brosnan agrees that burpees are great calorie-burners, she recommends breaking them down first. "Start by doing 10 push-ups followed by 10 squats, and then 10 squat to jump-ups." By mastering each of the components, Brosnan points out, you can make sure you're building the right muscles, and that you're doing them correctly before stringing them together into a full burpee.
Once you feel confident with each of the movements, go ahead and put them together for a set of burpees that work every muscle in your body to burn calories. Do as many as you can, and then rest for a minute before trying another set. Eventually, you can build the number of burpees in each set, as well as increase the number of sets.
If you're looking for a great way to burn 900 calories, or more, intense training that moves quickly from one movement to the next will keep your heart rate up, providing a good cardio workout and burning calories.