365/321 Rock Climbing

Image by Noodles and Beef via Flickr

You were such a stud back in college. After four years of being a high school athlete, along with some Ultimate Frisbee in college, even all that cheap beer didn’t have much impact on your body. Now you’re a thirty-something, and every time you look in the mirror, it seems like your gut is hanging out over your belt just a little further. You’re not sure, but you think you spotted the beginning of a double-chin.

“What happened to my lean, mean fighting machine body?” you ask the reflection in the mirror. The answer’s simple, really, and if you search your soul, you already know it. Long days in the office, together with long commutes on crowded highways, lead you to plop down on the couch at the end of the day. It also doesn’t hurt that you’re 35 but eating like you have the metabolism of an 18 year-old.

Welcome to middle age.

Guys, don’t worry, not all is lost. You can get back that studly body when you learn how to lose weight fast with fat burning exercises and good nutrition. We’ll focus on good nutrition in a subsequent article. For now, let’s look at three sure-fire ways to burn off that gut.

1. Hit the weights.

When you lift weights the right way, you’ll definitely burn off the fat. What is the “right way”? In essence, the right way to lift weights is not to lift weights like a wimp. You want to push your limits every time you go to the gym, because stretching beyond your current capacity is what leads your body to build muscle.

Your body builds muscles when your current muscle tissues get micro-tears in them. Seeing that the muscle wasn’t up to the job you asked it to do, your body says, “Hmmm, I guess we’d better add some more muscle tissue in that area.” In other words, the phrase “No pain, no gain” is right on the mark.

Guess what? Muscles require energy to function. That energy comes from either the calories you just ate, or the calories you’ve stored. Once your muscles run out of the calories you just ate, they’ll start using stored energy – fat. This is how weight lifting leads to fat loss.

2. Try circuit training.

Circuit training combines resistance training, usually in the form of lifting weights, with fat burning aerobics. An example of simple circuit training would be to run on a treadmill for ten minutes, do bicep curls for three minutes, run for ten more minutes, do lunges for three minutes, and so forth, until all the different parts of the body have been exercised.

Baylor University, the University of New Mexico, and The Cooper Institute have all studied the effectiveness of circuit training, and the results of these studies have been a good endorsement of circuit training. The studies showed circuit training to be time efficient, comprehensive, and excellent for cardiovascular health. Best of all, it doesn’t necessarily require expensive equipment or joining a gym. You can create your own circuit training workouts and do them at home, at a school track, or elsewhere.

3. Get outside.

Do treadmills and exercise bikes bore you? Do you get the willies when you picture yourself on a stair machine? If so, then don’t keep forcing yourself to go to the gym – it’s a recipe for burnout. There are plenty of fat burning exercises you can do in the great outdoors. Here are a few of the best:

  • Rock climbing – Rock climbing requires your whole body to stay engaged and active, leading to burn up to 400 calories for every thirty minutes you climb.
  • Rowing – Rent a kayak and head up to the mountains for one heck of a fat burning workout.
  • Cross-country skiing – Many people put on weight during the winter because they don’t like the gym and don’t feel they can work outside. That’s nonsense! Cross-country skiing is an excellent cardio workout that can burn 330 calories in half an hour.
  • Mountain biking – Pushing yourself up those hills and jumping logs is a great way to burn fat.
  • Running – This last one is a classic that can be done by anyone, anywhere. The only drawback to running is that it does take a toll on knees and ankles.

How to lose weight need not be a mystery. With the right combination of the fat burning exercises listed above, and healthy, unprocessed foods, almost anyone can lose weight without having to wait.

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So, you decided to get serious about getting in shape and you bought a treadmill, huh? And now, it sits in the corner of your living room, looking more like a technologically advanced drying rack than a piece of exercise equipment – right? Maybe you’re not using your new treadmill because you just don’t know what to do with it, or how to make it exciting. After all, when you really think about it, is there anything exciting about walking or running in place while you stare at the same spot of peeling wallpaper for 20 or 30 long minutes? Let’s face it: You need some spice in your treadmill life. Here are six tips for making those treadmill workouts more interesting, thereby motivating you to actually use it.

1. Interval training.

Want to burn some serious fat? Try interval training. In interval training, you vary the speed at which you walk or run. You might start at about 60% of your top speed, then jump after a few minutes to 95% of your top speed, then slow back down to 60% again, and so forth for the duration of your workout. You’ll burn more calories this way than you will be running 30 minutes at 60% of your full speed.

To do interval training, check the settings on your machine – there might already be an interval training setting. If you have a simple, old-school machine, you can create your own interval training changes through song selections: Classic rock might mean 60% speed, then you might throw in some techno to speed things up.

2. Circuit training.

Mix up interval training with some circuit training. Start on your treadmill for five minutes, then hop off and go to push-ups, crunches, lunges, or free weights for one very intense minute. Hop back on the machine and go hard again for five or ten minutes, then back to the push-ups, etc. Circuit training will definitely keep you from getting bored.

3. Television makes everything better.

On the one hand, it’s a little Brave New World creepy when you walk into a gym and hear only the whir of exercise machines while everyone’s eyes are plastered onto television monitors. On the other hand, watching TV or a movie while you work out makes the time go by quickly, and stops you from thinking too much about how tired you’re starting to get.

4. Train with heart.

One of the best ways to make sure that your treadmill workouts are effective is to monitor your heart rate. To hit the fat burning zone, your heart needs to be beating at 70% of its maximum level. To calculate your maximum heart rate, start by subtracting your age from 220. In other words, if you are 30 years old, your maximum heart rate is about 190, with a fat burning zone at 133 to 152. Some machines have heart rate monitors built into them. For those that don’t you can easily track your heart rate by counting your pulse for ten seconds, then multiplying the number you get by six.

One training technique is to try to work in that 70 – 80% zone for as long as you can. Once you get tired, slow down for a few minutes. Then, ratchet it back up to 75 – 85% and see how long you can go at that pace.

5. Take a hike.

Rebecca Rusch won her third straight mountain biking championship in 2009 in a unique, 24-hour solo competition. She also rock climbs, competes in canoe competitions through dangerous straits, and has earned the nickname “Queen of Pain.” She also uses a treadmill, but she likes to keep that challenging, too. She’ll start at 3.5 miles per hour with the belt flat, then increases the incline each minute until the grade hits 5%. For three minutes, she’ll stay at that 5% grade, raising and lowering the belt every two minutes until she’s been going for 25 minutes. For the last five minutes, she decreases both the speed and the incline for a cool down. For someone who trains to go up and down mountains, “hiking” in this way is an excellent training method.

6. Keep mixing it up.

Let’s close with this bit of advice: Keep mixing those workouts up, never allowing yourself to fall too deep into a treadmill workout rut. Once you’re in a rut, you’ll start to burnout, and once you burnout, you’ll give up. Therefore, try out each of the five methods listed above, and keep mixing them up to keep your interest level and motivation level high.

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