1. Warm-up before a strength training session Warming up increases blood flow to muscles by about 55%, giving you better muscle contraction. You’ll sweat earlier, which helps to regulate your body temperature. Just 5 minutes of walking or cycling will meet this requirement.
2. Vary your cardio exercises – Alternate between two or more cardiovascular activities like walking and cycling or kickboxing and step aerobics. This will help to optimally develop your cardiovascular fitness, maintain the element of fun in exercise, help you avoid over-training, as well as injury. Bottom line, you will expend more calories.
3. Incorporate several cardio techniques - Changing techniques forces your body to adapt and become more efficient. Vary the intensity and modify impact styles. For example, if you have been walking the same path at the same pace every day, begin to incorporate bursts of speed intermittently. The underlying principle is that change is what keeps the body progressing, making improvements, and burning fat.
4. Circuit Train – Perform several strengthening exercises interspersed with short cardio segments. For example perform a leg press, lateral pull-down, and abdominal crunch followed by 3 minutes of cycling. Then repeat another 3 strength exercises followed by 3 minutes of walking. Circuit training has a lower dropout rate (which means you will stick with it longer), is an efficient calorie burner, increases muscular strength, and decreases body fat.
5. Strength Train with Multi-Joint exercises – Choose exercises that work compound muscle groups – meaning more than one muscle group at a time. This will give you the most bang for your buck. Examples include squats, lunges, and push-ups. For every pound of muscle on your body, you need 35 to 50 calories per day to sustain it, while every pound of fat on your body requires only a modest 2 calories per day.
6. Exercise first thing in the morning – Morning exercisers have a higher likelihood of showing up. Later in the day, the odds that you’ll skip your workout increase as interruptions things come up and fatigue sets in. Morning exercise also helps regulate your hormone response, telling your body to release fat and kick start your metabolism.
7. Eat a “primer” meal prior to working out – Having a small balanced meal prior to exercise will help you burn fat. After you eat, your blood sugar rises, and exercise acts like insulin to help regulate blood glucose. Eating will also give you the energy for a more intense workout – you will therefore burn more calories.
8. Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day – Food has a thermic effect, meaning it takes energy (calories) for your body to digest the food you eat. Eating several times throughout the day increases the thermic effect, so you burn more calories. Eating more often also keeps you from feeling like you are being deprived of food and prevents hunger from setting in, which can cause you to binge eat. Learning to eat smart is an essential part of any weight loss program for women.
9. Train with intensity – To get the full benefits of exercise for women, you must graduate from the “pink weights” and moderate walking. Do not be afraid to increase your resistance and challenge your muscles and cardiovascular system. In order to change, you have to push your physical limits beyond what you are accustomed to.
*Adapted from an article by fitness expert and certified personal trainer Kelli Callabrese