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.
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.
- Pushups or Bench Press
- Pullups or TRX rows
- Barbell or dumbbell cleans or overhead press
- Hanging leg raises
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:
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 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).
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!