There are countless ways that exercise can improve our health. But, when it comes to boosting fat burn and torching calories, there are some specific and proven ways to get results. Remember, you can’t exercise your way out of bad nutrition so if you are looking to reduce overall body fat, you should also be maintaining healthy nutrition habits in addition to your exercise plan. For best overall results, the two should go hand-in-hand. For now, let’s take a look at six proven ways to boost fat burn and kill more calories.
Low-intensity Endurance Training: This is the best option for those who are new or returning to exercise after a brief (or lengthy) hiatus. Low intensity exercise refers to aerobic-based exercises like walking, swimming, cycling or similar things that are done at a low enough intensity. A general rule of thumb to ensure it is low intensity is to make sure that you could easily carry on a conversation while participating in that activity. You need to do it for at least 20 minutes continuously though, ideally building up over time so that you can eventually work up to 60 minute sessions of continuous activity during each workout. This is one of the more accessible programs of the six that have been proven to burn more fat. Try to experiment and find something that you enjoy doing. Things like hiking, kayaking, or golfing could meet this criteria if you stay moving continuously with an elevated heart rate. I have a short article on monitoring exercise intensity that you can check out if you need some help figuring that out.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): This program approach is almost the opposite of the low intensity one described above. High intensity interval training is done at a very high heart rate, for short periods of time, with breaks throughout. This makes sense – we couldn’t go at a very high intensity for long periods of time – otherwise,we would have to quit at some point! This type of workout can get you a lot of bang in a short period of time so if you are in need of an efficient workout, and have a decent fitness base to start with, this might be a good option for you. Here is a link to setting up an interval workout. There is a lot of room for creativity and variety with this type of workout.
Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training: If option 1 and 2 aren’t for you, then maybe something in the middle will work. Moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) refers to continuous activity that is at, or near, the threshold where fat burning takes place i.e. moderate intensity. A general rule of thumb would be that while you are exercising, you could talk, but not sing, at this intensity. You could say a few words with each breath, but not much more. Programs like this conducted for 40 minutes, three times a week for 12 weeks have boosted fitness but also added 10% increase in fat burning. If you have to start with a low-intensity program, you could progress to MICT once your fitness allows for it.
Low and High-Volume Resistance Training: Resistance training has proven to be effective at burning fat. Something as simple as three sets of eight repetitions consisting of nine different upper and lower body exercises can increase strength but also lower body fat. A higher volume of six sets of the same regimen has decreased waist circumference. Either approach, performed consistently over 12 weeks or more, is sure to have a positive impact on body fat.
Peripheral Heart Action Training: The peripheral heart action training (PHA) is an approach to resistance training that promotes whole-body blood flow throughout an entire workout. This is done by performing an upper body exercise that is immediately followed by a lower body exercise with no breaks in between. While the upper body is working, the lower body is resting, and vice versa. Exercises should be completed with 15 repetitions and done at a moderate intensity. This can be done by choosing three upper body exercises that are each paired with a lower body exercise. Complete four rounds of each pair of exercises.
Concurrent Training: Concurrent training is a fancy way of saying that each exercise session needs to have cardiovascular and strength training included every time you workout. The cardiovascular portion needs to be either MICT or HIIT and the resistance portion can be low- or high-volume training. Make sure to do this at least three times per week. Your resistance training should have at least ten different exercises. Perform two sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise. The cardiovascular portion can be your choice of aerobic or interval style.
Leslie, E., Mermier, C., & Kravitz, L. (2022). Exercise and Fat Metabolism. ACSM’S Health & Fitness Journal, 26(3), 34–39. https://doi.org/10.1249/fit.0000000000000768