Can’t seem to lose those last few pounds, even with diet and exercise? Your metabolism could be to blame. Not all of us are blessed with a high metabolic rate, but by making some simple changes to your exercise routine, you can boost your metabolism and help your body burn more calories, even when you’re resting.
“You absolutely can increase your metabolic rate with exercise,” says fitness expert Cindy Whitmarsh, a trainer on ExerciseTV and author of 101 Ways to Work out With Weights. “Muscle burns more calories than fat does, so the more muscle you build, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be. Every muscle cell you gain is like a little internal fire that burns calories, even while you’re sleeping.” Here are Whitmarsh’s top tips for revving up your routine, plus the best exercises to boost your metabolism.
If you’ve fallen into a predictable pattern of biking or walking every day, try cross-training to get your body out of its rut and stimulate more muscle growth. Try running on Monday, stair-climbing on Tuesday, weight training on Wednesday, boxing on Thursday, cycling on Friday and jumping rope on Saturday.
Pump up Your Heart Rate
Keeping your heart rate elevated for at least 30 minutes during your cardio routine will boost your metabolism and help your body burn fat faster. Whitmarsh recommends keeping your heart rate within 65 to 85 percent of your heart rate maximum, which you can find by subtracting your age from 220. Multiply that number by 0.65 and then by 0.85 to find this magic fat-burning range. Then, use a heart rate monitor while exercising to help stay in that range.
Try Interval Training
Interval training — alternating high-intensity exercise bursts with lower-intensity activities — will break up a stale workout and boost your metabolism. “You’re building muscle and increasing your heart rate so it will stay elevated for a longer time after your workout, and you’ll burn calories longer,” says Whitmarsh.
Keep It Up
The last secret to boosting your metabolism is to choose multifunctional exercises that maximize your muscle gain by working many body parts at once. Whitmarsh’s top five exercises to boost your metabolism can all be done easily at home:
1. Mountain-climbers: Start on the floor in a hands-and-knees position. Lift one bent knee close to your chest. Alternate your knees into your chest by tapping your toes to the floor and back. Repeat 20 to 50 times without stopping.
2. Eight-count Body-builder With Push-up: Start at standing pose. Bring hands to the floor, jump feet back into a high plank. Jump feet out wide, do a push-up, jump feet back together, jump feet back to hands and stand up. Repeat five to 15 times.
3. Squat Into Bicep Curls and Overhead Shoulder Press: Stand holding weights by your sides. Squat down. Stand back up while doing a bicep curl. Perform overhead shoulder press, bring weights back to sides. Repeat eight to 15 times.
4. Walking Lunges While Alternating Bicep Curls and Lateral Shoulder Raises: Stand with weights in each hand. Lunge forward with right leg while doing a bicep curl with right arm. Repeat with left side. Then, lunge forward with right leg while lifting your right arm out to the side. Repeat with left side. Repeat 10 times.
5. Medicine Ball Drop-catch and Overhead Lift: Hold a medicine ball in front of your body with arms straight and legs slightly wider than shoulder width. Lift the ball overhead, keeping arms straight and engaging your core. Then, drop the ball down to the floor as you squat so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Catch the ball at the deepest part of your squat with your arms straight. Lift ball as you stand. Repeat 10 to 20 times.