The key to burning calories and ultimately losing weight is to kick your metabolism into gear. Your metabolism is your body’s ability to facilitate chemical reactions — and when we refer to it in terms of physical fitness, it’s more or less in conjunction with the physiological process of breaking down certain molecules to access energy. The more efficiently your body can access and utilize stored energy (fat stores), the easier you’ll be able to burn calories, and lose weight.
When we talk about your basal metabolic rate (BMR), this would refer to the amount of calories you burn just by existing — the default amount of energy you expend with your natural bodily functions.
While your metabolism can be a bit of a strange concept to get your head around, it really refers to how much energy, or calories, your body burns through in a given day. The key to losing weight is to burn more energy than you take in; to assume a caloric deficit. With that in mind, if you want to lose weight, giving your metabolism a boost should be on your to-do list. But it’s not easy.
Here are seven exercises you can implement if you feel that your metabolism is slowing, which should give your internal engine a boost.
1. Planks (and plank variants)
Planks are a relatively easy exercise to do, and you can do them almost anywhere. There are also numerous variations that you can try, and keep your routines mixed up to avoid muscle memory. But they’re also great for building muscle and endurance. If you’re unfamiliar with how to pull off the perfect plank, the video above should get you started.
2. Reverse lunge
Lunges are another deceptive exercise — they look pretty easy, but after only a few reps, you’ll really feel the burn. They’re terrific leg exercises if you don’t have access to squat racks or barbells and will help you build lean muscles in your legs. Specifically, you’ll build your quads and glutes — perhaps the most important muscle groups in the body.
Perhaps the best way to burn a ton of calories in a short amount of time is by swimming. You’ll be using every muscle group in your body just to stay afloat or in constant motion, and by doing so, force your body to start pulling energy from your fat stores. Plus, you get the added benefit of reduced injury risks, since swimming is a no-impact exercise. Your joints and ligaments will thank you.
To ensure you don’t miss your upper body, try incorporating dips into your workout. They’re perfect for interval or circuit training, and you’ll likely find yourself out of breath after completing a set. You’ll build your shoulders, chest, and arms, and keep your internal engine humming.
As you’ll read over and over, squats are pretty much the most important lift or exercise you can do. Like lunges, you’ll be focusing the work on your quads and glutes. Build those muscles up, and you’ll have two muscle groups that are burning through a large amount of energy, all on their own, just moving you around throughout the day. Try dumbbell or kettlebell squats to mix things up.
Yes — we couldn’t get through the list without some sort of running component. And in true form to high-intensity interval training, sprints are where it’s at. Sprints require your body to act explosively, which means that it needs to be very efficient at tapping into and expending energy. Do enough sprinting, and your body will figure out how to get it done.
Finally, you should try doing some burpees to give your metabolism a boost. Burpees incorporate elements of bodyweight exercises as well as cardio, making them a great move to burn calories and build muscle. Again — you’re training your body to become more efficient, and burpees are one exercise that is sure to help you train for that.
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