During the holidays, you’re on the move, your social card is full, you’re eating more sweets than usual, and so you could use a workout that gives you more bang for the buck. Not possible you say? Oh, but it is. It’s all about focusing on workouts that rev your metabolism and help keep it elevated, even when your body is at rest. Metabolism-boosting workouts not only keep your calories burning, they tend to be short, sweet, and — you knew this was coming — intense.
So bring your workout clothes with you for the holidays and try out this metabolic burner. It also doubles as a nice break from the in-laws.
The Best Metabolic Workout Moves
Mix, match, sweat.
Burpee Jump Squats
Why: The more muscle you have, the bigger the boost to your metabolism. But you also want to elevate your heart rate. This combo move does both.
How to: Perform a traditional burpee (starting and ending in the standing position). After completing the move, do a low squat, push through your heels into a high vertical jump, and land with bended knees. Repeat burpee.
Your plan: Alternate five minutes of burpee jump squats with five minutes of running for 30 minutes.
Mountain Climbers/Running Lunges
Why: Compound exercises like this one strengthen all your major muscle groups while making your body work overtime to switch back and forth between movements, increasing the afterburn effects.
How to: Start in an extended pushup position. Hike your right knee out to the side and up toward your chest. Return to straight legs; repeat on opposite side. Stand up and switch to running lunges: From a low lunge position, swing your back leg through to the front, knee bent, and hop in the air before returning to start position.
Your plan: Do two minutes of mountain climbers, followed by 10 running lunges on each side. Repeat combo 5 times.
Fast/Slow Strength Training
Why: Muscle mass burns more calories than fat mass (during a workout and while you are at rest). Some research shows that by performing the “easy” part of a strength move (a.k.a. eccentric contractions, a.k.a. lowering a dumbbell to the floor after doing a bicep curl) in a slow and controlled manner, you fire up your metabolism and burn more calories in the 72 hours after your workout than when you quickly lower the weight.
How to: Perform a circuit of biceps curls, triceps curls, leg presses, and weighted lunges in a pattern fast concentric contractions (loading the weight or the “hard” part of the movement), followed by a slow eccentric contraction or release.
Your plan: Five sets, 10 reps each, of biceps, triceps, leg press, and weighted lunges. Use a weight just heavy enough to make the last rep very hard. Aim for one count to load your muscle, and five counts to release.
The Best Mega-Calorie Burning Moves
Why: High-intensity workouts tell your body to release hormones like adrenaline and human growth hormone that encourage fat metabolism. This helps you burn a lot of calories in a short period of time, but you have to commit to all-out effort to reap the benefits.
How to: 60 seconds sprint, 60 seconds jog. Repeat 20 times.
Calories burned: 600
Jumping Jacks/Jumping Rope/Box Jump
Why: Jumping movements elevate heart rate higher, faster, than low-impact exercises.
How to: 60 seconds jumping jacks, 60 seconds jumping rope, 20 box jumps. Repeat 15 times.
Calories burned: 600
Why: Nothing fancy here, just some good old-fashioned pavement pounding that adds up to major calories burned.
How to: Hit the roads (or trails) for an hour.
Calories burned: 850-950, depending on your pace (between a 10-minute and 8:30-minute mile)
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