Best Fat Burning Workouts for Men and Women-Not a One-Sided Solution

Strength training with barbells

The best fat burning workouts for men or women don’t start with the workout. It begins with the food you eat, or don’t.

Been hitting the gym pretty hard but also hitting those pretzel chips and beer pretty hard too?

And maybe some fries and a slice of pizza here and there, or maybe just a few too many helpings of pasta or white rice?

If you have, you’ve probably been noticing your stomach is starting to talk back to you when you look in the mirror. Jiggle jiggle, wiggle wiggle.

But not to worry, starting with cutting out those extra carbs and simple sugars, there is a simple plan to get you back on track to that dream body you’ve been sculpting. Fat down, energy and muscle up!

Burn Fat with Cardio!

Yes it’s true! You can actually burn fat by running, swimming, walking and other so-called boring cardio. There are better ways to do cardio than the villainized long, boring cardio that gets smashed by YouTube trainers so often though. Plus, there are a lot of benefits to getting outside of the gym and disciplining your mind to push your body through a couple miles of constant motion.

Here are a couple of tips for making cardio one of your go to fat burning methods:

  • Get outdoors. Who wouldn’t be bored going nowhere on a machine inside of a building? Also, how is the air you’re breathing in there? Get outside, preferable not next to a freeway. Go to a trail, a park, the beach. Get out early before there are tons of cars on the road. There is a huge difference in how your brain reacts when you get outside, and you’re more likely to go farther and longer.
  • Go harder. You can’t always spend 90 minutes doing endurance training workouts, and it takes time to build up that kind of aerobic and muscular conditioning. You can go hard for 20 minutes however, or break up your 90 minutes into fast/slow intervals. Try doing a warm-up, followed by a pace that forces you to a speed that is fast enough to make you wonder if you can keep it up for an extended period of time. In longer sessions, include ‘all-out’ sprints for brief periods throughout the session.
  • Include cardio at the end or beginning of your resistance training workout. As a thorough general warm up or a finisher at the end, adding 20-30 minutes of biking, running or other cardiovascular activity (or a fast 15) sends your metabolism into overdrive and is a great way to burn off fat.

cardio benefits of sprinting

Aerobic exercise seems to have no shortage of benefits on longevity, especially in extreme aerobic athletes, according to Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Wael Jaber, M.D. (“Better cardiorespiratory fitness leads to longer life.” sciencedaily.com.)

Of course, that extreme endurance comes with the sacrifice of a lot of muscle and strength as well as fat. You are still improving bone strength, however, and may experience some initial muscle gains when starting out.

The key for non-endurance athletes is to balance strength training with cardio training, and perhaps one of the best living examples of this in a human being is Cameron Hanes. If you don’t know, check him out on Instagram @cameronhanes.

Build Muscle and Endurance with Complexes, Giant Sets, Circuits

Some of the best fat burning, muscle-building workouts you can do involve complexes, giant sets and circuits. Technical definitions aside, barbell or dumbbell complexes, giant sets and circuits all have the same idea behind them. Resistance training with little to no rest between exercises.

Circuits:  You can set up as many exercises as you like, but 6 is a good number to cap it off at. Have your equipment laid out before you start, in an easy to follow circuit if possible. This way you don’t forget what comes next when you start getting exhausted.

Make sure you are warm, or do a warm-up circuit. Then get started, going from exercise to exercise with no rest or as much as 30 seconds max. Do each exercise to failure. Complete the circuit. Rest a minute, and repeat 2-3 times. Try setting up 2 or 3 different circuits for 3 sets each and watch the fat fall away while your fitness levels skyrocket.

Sample Circuit

  1. Pushups or Bench Press
  2. Pullups or TRX rows
  3. Barbell or dumbbell cleans or overhead press
  4. Hanging leg raises
  5. Deadlifts

Giant Sets:  Giant sets originated in the bodybuilding world, and usually mean 4 exercises strung together for opposing muscle groups. These are done with no rest between exercises, so have your weights set up before you start. Example:

  • Deadlifts/Pullups/Dips/Presses (bench, overhead, etc.)

You could also structure this as:

  • Deadlifts
  • Presses
  • Pullups
  • Dips

The second sequence keeps the grip from getting too tired for pullups or the triceps from getting too tired to carry out the second pushing exercise.

Complexes

Complexes are essentially the same type of workout. When people talk about complexes, they are usually referring to a circuit done with a barbell/s or dumbbells. Istvan Javorek popularized several barbell and dumbbell complexes many years ago, and are the basis for most of what you see on the internet today. These are also great done with kettlebells.

For a complex, choose 3-6 exercises which will work the whole body. Then choose a number of repetitions (hint: if you’re new to these, start with a low number!) and a number of sets. So for example:

  • Barbell deadlifts x 6 reps
  • Barbell bent over rows x 6 reps
  • Barbell hang snatch x 6 reps
  • Barbell back squat x 6 reps
  • Barbell behind-the-neck push press x 6 reps

Depending on your fitness level you may choose to do 1 set or 5. Keep the rest to 90-120 seconds between complex sets, and do not rest between exercises. In the example above, you should never have to put the bar down to move to the next exercise.

Muscle, Metabolism, Cardio and Diet

Diet plays a huge role in your body composition, so it’s important to develop a lifestyle around eating healthy and giving your body a scheduled day to allow anything. (See “How to Lose 100 Pounds on The Slow Carb Diet” on the Tim Ferriss blog.)

It’s also important to build muscle as this is the number one consumer of energy in our body while sleeping and awake. The effects of this tend to be exxagerated however. Building muscle alone won’t keep the weight off, especially if you are eating to satisfy the increased hunger from the greater metabolic burn. Nonetheless, a regular strength training routine is essential.

Cardiovascular health is one of the greatest indicators of good heart health and longevity. It’s also a great activity on light training days to help your body recover by delivering more oxygen to the muscles and flushing out CO2 and lactic acid (mayoclinic.org). balancing strength and cardio

As with most things, there is a simple solution that gets more complex the longer you look at it. Losing weight and getting fit are simple in one respect-just get started and keep working.

As you get into better condition, though, you run into things like boredom, soreness, plateaus and so on. However, by the time you get to this point you should have a good idea of what works for you and what doesn’t, and more important, you’ve developed the habit of being a healthy, fit. person.

So what are the best fat burning workouts for men and women? Ultimately, it’s the one you stick with for life, and keep improving and evolving as your body adapts. So get started, and don’t look back!

The Busy Man’s Full Body Workout

Trying to get it all done

I recently read an online article titled the Busy Man’s Workout. It consisted of a few dumbbell movements combined with bodyweight exercises in a 30 minute circuit. The workout listed no reps or sets, just a guideline to do 30 seconds of one exercise, rest 15 seconds and repeat on the next. Then repeat the whole circuit as many times as possible in 30 minutes.

Although the workout was solid and I like the idea of going for broke instead of counting reps and resting until you have comfortably caught your breath again, the exercises, with one exception, seemed like the same ‘ol same ‘ol. You know: Push press, front squat, dumbbell deadlift and so on. These are great exercises, but I had a better idea for a 30 minutes circuit. One that uses, say, less traditional implements, with one exception.

So here it is, call it the “full body garage workout” if you want. Try this 3 times in one week, resting one day in between. Just like the “Busy Man’s Workout,” do the exercises non-stop for 30 seconds, then rest 15 seconds before switching to the next exercise. You want to work up to 60 seconds by the way, but start off with what you can handle. Resting longer than 15 seconds defeats the purpose of this workout. That is, build functional muscle throughout the core, legs, shoulders, back and arms, while at the same time burning fat and conditioning your heart.

Train with Chains


foxypar4, http://www.flickr.com/photos/foxypar4/515783755/


Heavy chains are great for this but battling ropes work as well or better. I just like the clink of heavy metal when I use chains. Make sure the chain weight is not too light that it goes flying everywhere, but not so heavy that you can’t work them for 30-60 seconds at a time.

Grab one end of the chains in either hand. Cast the loop out in front of you (you can wrap them around a post if you prefer.) Now, with your legs slightly bent, alternately swing your arms out in front of you using a slight hip rotation to power the movement. The whole body should be engaged to take the load off of the shoulders. (But you will still feel this in your shoulders.)

If this exercise gets tired, try doing both arms at the same time. Imagine you are doing a snatch with the chains and whip them with both arms and body extended.

Heavy Bag Lifting



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*If you do not have a heavy bag, or don’t feel like taking one down, use sandbags instead.

Lay the heavy bag down verticall pointed in front of you. Straddle one end and assume a deep squat position. Get a grip on the bag, use the whole body to bring it up and onto one shoulder. To do this, extend through the ankles, knees and hips as though you were doing a snatch, then drop under it and squat up. Hold this position for 10 seconds, bring it down and lift it onto the opposite shoulder. Keep going for 30-60 seconds.

Dumbbell or Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up



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This is a great exercise for engaging the whole body. It’s not bad for improving focus, either.

Using a dumbbell or kettlebell, lay on the ground with the same leg as the weight-side bent. Hold the weight against the floor as though you were going to bench press it. Now drive it up straight while twisting to the opposite elbow at the same time.

Push up with the free hand, driving the weight straight up. Keep your eyes on the weight throughout the movement.

Get over the bent leg while sliding the free leg behind you. Now push up as in a lunge. Reverse the process to lay back down, and you have done one rep. Wash, rinse, repeat.

*This exercise can be done with a sandbag if dumbbells or kettlebells are not available.

Pullups


Pullups work more than your lats, although they are great for developing those. They affect your biceps, forearms, trapezius and even the pectorals to some extent. You may even engage the posterior deltoids. Do as many as you can in good form in 30 seconds. If you are stuck on a rep, just hang with your shoulders pulled down and in.

So that’s it. A simpe “Full Body Garage Workout for Busy People” using basic implements. Remember to keep the pace up to get the most out of this workout and warm up before you start. Have fun!