By now you should know that working out is a no-brainer if you're trying to lose weight (along with counting calories, of course). Exercise needs to be part of your everyday life to not only maintain a healthy weight, but also help prevent health conditions like heart disease and type II diabetes. But if you're looking to speed up your weight loss -- say, for an upcoming reunion or wedding -- you're going to have to step up your workouts, big time. Here's how:
Do high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This is a highly efficient cardio workout that alternates periods of short, intense bursts of exercise with periods of less-intense activity. For example, walking and running or cycling at varying speeds. HIIT burns more fat and creates a greater afterburn (technically known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC) than steady cardio at a lower intensity. It also elevates your metabolism more than other forms of cardio. And the kicker is these intervals, when done correctly at 85 percent to 100 percent effort, can be knocked out in as few as 20 to 30 minutes, though I like to add them to the end of a circuit-training session for 30 to 60 seconds.
Increase your resistance. Just as ramping up your cardio with intervals will burn more calories long after your workout (the afterburn), so will a higher intensity of strength training. So lift heavier weights and push yourself until your muscles feel fatigued. And to really boost your calorie burn and speed up your metabolism, do your strength training in circuits, targeting both small and large muscle groups during a single workout. The harder you work, the faster you'll see results!
Avoid the same-old routine. No matter what type of workouts you do, the key to maximizing their effectiveness is variety. Your body adapts to exercises you do over and over again, which results in a performance plateau. Strength-train your muscles from different angles, give the treadmill a break and try another form of cardio or take a class like kickboxing that emphasizes a variety of skills. Just don't fall into a routine, and your body will respond by getting stronger and fitter quicker.