So you gained some weight. It happens. Why you gain doesn’t matter so much as what you do now to stop the gain and get back to fighting shape.
You might be tempted to try your hand at meal replacement shakes, the Paleo diet, even an extra day of hitting the kettlebells. If you go down that path, you’re putting your energy in the wrong place. The way to lose weight faster isn’t to develop a long-term commitment to quinoa or to form a five-day-a-week jogging habit, either.
Rapid weight-loss banks on only two variables: Less calories in and more calories out. That means if you want to drop two pounds per week (or 10 pounds total this month), you need to make a serious commitment to eating less (and better) and hitting the gym for a series of short, all-out bursts of cardio.
Research shows that high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is the most effective way to burn calories and boost your metabolism — a 20-minute session is more effective than an hour of moderate activity, and more time-efficient as well. What’s more HIIT increases your body’s oxygen consumption even after the workout, meaning you continue to burn fat while you shower, get changed, and head to dinner. Doing these moves right requires fully committing yourself to each move. The goal is to raise your heart rate high — about 85 percent of its maximum — in short bursts. Get started with the 10 moves here.
Jump Rope. It’s hard to think of a simpler way to burn calories. Aim for one minute of jumping rope, 20 seconds rest, five times. Do these as single hops (no bounces between rope swings), at a brisk tempo.
Burpees. This move uses more energy because of its full-body motion. From standing, bend your knees, crouch down to the floor, place your hands on the ground, and jump your feet back so you are in an extended plank position. Jump feet forward toward your hands again, push off the floor and jump into a vertical position. Do as many as you can for 30 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
Weighted Run. At the gym or in your driveway, tie a flat, heavy object (several 45-pound weights, a tire, a tray filled with bricks, etc) to the end of a long rope, and tie the other end around your waist. The weight should be at least equal to your body weight. For 30 seconds, “run” as hard as you can, trying to pull the weight from one end of the room to the other or down the length of your driveway. Rest 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
Box Jumps. Explosive movements burn a ton of energy in short amounts of time. To perform this exercise, stand in front of a box or bench about 2 to 3 feet high (start lower and progress to higher). In one, big, powerful motion, bend your knees and jump with both feet onto the box. Immediately jump back down. Complete as many jumps as you can in one minute. Rest 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
High-Knee Sprints. There’s a reason pro football players, soccer players, and basketball stars all perform this drill in warm-ups: It gets your heart rate way up, while also engaging major muscle groups. For 20 seconds, as hard and fast as you can, sprint with your knees rising as high as you can get them with every step. (You will cover minimal distance as the movement is primarily vertical). Rest 10 seconds. Go again. Do 8 times.
Jumping Jacks. Your goal: One jack per second, for 60 seconds. Rest 20 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Squat Twist-Jumps. Start in a wide, bent-knee stance, feet slightly turned out to the side, your butt about knee height. Pushing through your heels, jump up in the air and twist your lower half to the right so you land with your left foot in front, while keeping your upper body facing front. From this half-twist squat, press through your feet to jumping back in the other direction, twisting your lower body to the left and landing with your right foot in front, while keeping torso stationary. Continue jumping back and forth for 30 seconds. Rest 10. Repeat 5 times.
Planks. While not an aerobic move, planks are key to weight-loss success because they strengthen so many important muscles groups, including your core, back, glutes, arms, and hamstrings. Pounds for pound, muscle burns twice as many calories as fat, so you’ll lose weight faster doing the same routine. Start face down, elbows beneath shoulders, legs outstretched behind you. Engage your core and raise hips off the ground, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Hold for 60 seconds. Rest 15 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Stair Sprints. Find a stairwell with four flights of 10-12 stairs. Race to the top, aiming to get there in under 30 seconds. Jog back down. Repeat 4 times.
Mountain Climbers. From an extended plank position, lift one foot off the floor, bending your knee and hiking the bent leg toward your chest. As you return that leg to the start position, jump your other leg forward in the same bent-knee style. “Jog” your legs back and forth for one minute. Rest 15 seconds. Repeat 3 times.