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A gym membership doesn't do you much good if you don't have the time, or motivation, to go. If hoisting weights along with 50 or 100 of your not-so-close friends isn't appealing to you, you can still lose fat by working out at home. A total-body strength workout requires a small investment in equipment and a lot of dedication, but the results are worth it.
To help you reduce fat, a strength-training workout must help you build muscle. Increased muscle mass means your body needs more energy to exercise and to do daily tasks, which increases your overall rate of energy expenditure -- or metabolism. A higher metabolism helps you burn fat. Your body builds muscle in response to stress, which requires you to use resistance. At home, dumbbells, resistance bands or tubes and your own body weight are convenient options. Dumbbells and resistance bands are relatively inexpensive and easy to store if you have a spare closet. An ottoman or coffee table can sub as a weight bench.
Emphasize high-intensity, compound exercises in your total-body, at-home, fat-burning workout. These moves stimulate a maximum number of muscle fibers, which helps you burn calories and releases hormones that encourage muscle growth, or hypertrophy. High-intensity strength training also increases your energy expenditure postexercise, notes University of New Mexico researchers Jeff M. Reynolds and Len Kravitz. This means your body keeps burning fat for hours after you've put down the weights.
Compound exercises are those that work multiple joints at once, such as squats, presses, rows and lunges. For a no-equipment routine, do body-weight lunges, squats, pushups, pullups -- if you have a sturdy bar -- triceps dips and plank holds. Once you've mastered body-weight exercises, use the dumbbells to make lunges and squats more challenging. You can also use dumbbells for rows, pullovers, chest presses and flyes, shoulder presses, biceps curls and triceps extensions. A resistance band enables you to do many of the same exercises you do with dumbbells.
Strategy and Progression
For a total-body, fat-burning routine, you'll need to target at least every major muscle group with one set of eight to 12 repetitions of an exercise. Once the 12 repetitions feel easy, go up in weight by 5 to 10 percent or add weights to your body-weight moves. If you don't want to invest in new weights every time you master 12 repetitions of a move, consider other at-home ways to create more challenge. You could do the exercises as a circuit, one immediately following the next with no rest between them. You could also combine exercises to burn maximum calories while building muscle. For example, do one to three sets of lunges combined with biceps curls or squats with shoulder presses. Execute a total-body routine at least three times per week on nonconsecutive days. Change the order of the exercises, the number of sets and repetitions or the equipment used every six to eight weeks to keep your body from hitting a plateau.