3 tips for burning more calories

The biggest challenge facing people when trying to improve their fitness is to commit to exercise. The second biggest challenge people face is not knowing how to make the most out of their workouts. When your goal is burning calories, there are things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your workout. If you learn to be more efficient with your time, you can add minutes back into your day and hours back into your week.

The principle of specificity dictates that the body will adapt to the specific demands that are placed on it. This is pretty common sense. If you continually and regularly ask your body to bench press 100 pounds, eventually your body will respond to that demand and learn the task. By making changes in your workout that integrate new demands, your body will have to work harder to accomplish your exercise and thus, burn more calories.

There are three main types of demands that you can place on your body. Each one of these demands can be adapted to help you burn more calories.

1. Mechanical specificity – the weights and movements placed on your body
2. Neuromuscular specificity – the speed of contraction and exercise selection
3. Metabolic specificity – the energy demand placed on the body

Mechanically, your body burns more calories when movements are performed standing and using moderate weights. Perhaps you are accustomed to doing a seated dumbbell shoulder press. This is a great stengthening exercise, but if you want to burn more calories, try doing your dumbbell presses while standing with a moderate weight.  Most exercises have variations, so take a look at your exercises and look for variations for each muscle group and find one where you are on your feet.

From a neuromuscular standpoint your body burns more calories when more muscles are being used for longer periods in controlled, unstable environments. Introduce balance and stabilization elements into your routine. Instead of doing a shoulder press machine, do a standing dumbbell shoulder press, but do it while standing on one foot. When your neuromuscular system has to work to stabilize your balance you engage different muscle fibers than you do when you simply lift heavy loads. Using stability balls, BOSU, or simply doing your exercise on one foot or using one arm at a time places new demands on your body that will make you work harder and burn more calories.

Lastly from a metabolic standpoint, the body burns more calories when rest periods are short. Circuit training is key to burning calories and being efficient with your time in the gym. Refer to my article about vertical loading to learn more about circuit training. Cut your rest periods down, keep your body moving, and you will burn more calories.

If you workout feels too easy, it probably is. The body can only adapt if it has reason to adapt.

Mark Spurbeck

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