Blast more calories in less time with these workout routines that are easy to fit into busy schedules.
1. Add 10 minutes to your morning exercise routine.
While you may be religious about going to the gym after work, waking up 10 minutes earlier in the morning and taking a walk around the block (or, alternatively, simply dancing to your morning radio show for 10 minutes) will let you start off your day with a faster-burning metabolism. Plus, morning exercise will most likely allow you to head off to work in a better mood than usual.
Boost calories burned: 275 calories per week
2. Do interval training
When you alternate high-intensity cardio workout routines with moderate-intensity recovery periods, you boost your calorie burning and increase your fitness level. Interval training will help you break through plateaus.
Here's how: Warm up for 5 minutes, then increase speed or resistance on the machine for 2-5 minutes. Return to your usual pace for 5 minutes, then continue with short bursts interspersed with a moderate pace for the rest of your fitness workouts. Cool down for 5 minutes at a slower pace.
When you're ready to progress, make the work part of the interval longer and decrease the recovery time (but never to less than 30 seconds). For example, you could do 6 minutes at a higher speed and rest for 3 minutes.
Boost calories burned: 300-450 calories per 45 minutes
3. Do workout routines with a faster partner
Whether it's in the gym or on the neighborhood track, a fit buddy will challenge you to keep up and exercise at a higher intensity. It's the friendliest way to kick your own butt! Plus, fitness workouts go faster accompanied by good conversation.
Boost calories burned: Simply increasing your walk from 3 mph to 4 mph will burn almost 100 extra calories in 60 minutes.
Boost calories burned with simple changes like jumping rope or switching up your sports activities.
Benefit from these three fitness tips from Shape.com:
4. Try jumping rope on your coffee breaks
Sound silly? It won't after you read the numbers. Slip off your pumps and put on your sneakers, then head off to a corner with a jump rope. These quick heart-pumping workout routines are also weight bearing, so your muscles and bones will benefit. And you'll probably feel completely energized after jumping rope, too.
Boost calories burned: You can burn 208 calories on two 10-minute breaks each day (that's 1,000 calories a week)!
5. Extend your workout routines
If your typical workout is 30 minutes — no shorter, no longer — here's an easy way to challenge yourself. Twice a week, try adding 10 or 15 minutes to your cardio. You'll burn more calories and increase your cardiovascular endurance level, making your weekend hikes and bike rides easier. To adapt your fitness workouts to your higher fitness level, every two weeks up your intensity level by increasing resistance or incline on the machine or road.
Boost calories burned: Running 30 extra minutes on the treadmill each week can burn 400 calories.
6. Change equipment or activities
If you always head right for the treadmill, take a step class or get on the elliptical trainer and step up the intensity. This may increase the calorie burn of your workout because our bodies work less efficiently doing new exercises than those we're used to. Periodically shifting activities will also decrease the chance of an overuse injury and keep your workouts fresh and fun.
Boost calories burned: Step aerobics vs. walking at 3.5 mph burns 237 vs. 177 calories in 30 minutes.
Don’t fall into a rut! Read these Shape.com fitness tips that will help you burn calories quickly.
7. Add another day to your workout routines
Ho-hum ... does week after week only encompass Monday-Wednesday-Friday on the treadmill? Add a Saturday bike ride or Sunday morning indoor cycling class to your week, and your fitness level -- and body shape -- will show it. Make your workout activity-focused and you'll also invigorate your mind and spirit.
Boost calories burned: A two-hour hilly hike can burn up to 800 calories.
8. Hire a certified personal trainer
Nothing gets you out of a fitness rut faster than refining your routine based on the experience of someone who knows exactly how to get results. A good certified personal trainer (with an emphasis on certified) will look at your current program to make sure it's safe and effective. Does this sound too extravagant? Make an appointment with a trainer once a month or once every three months to update your workout routines and get feedback on your form.
Boost calories burned during exercise: If your trainer has you change from a fast walk to a slow jog, you'll burn an extra 100 calories in 30 minutes.
9. Try a mini-triathlon
Instead of trying to force yourself to stay on the recumbent bicycle for 45 minutes each time you work out, here's your new mini-triathlon: 15 minutes power walking on a steep incline on the treadmill, 15 minutes on a stationary cycle (ideally at a high resistance level), then 15 minutes in the pool (or use the racing program on your gym's rowing machine). Be sure to warm up, cool down and stretch, and don't forget to write down your speeds to keep track of your progress. Reward yourself when you reach the finish line!
P.S.: For an added bonus, combine this activity with cardio boost #3 — working out with a partner — to make this activity even more fun.
Boost calories burned during exercise: One workout = 600 calories burned
End your workout with a stretching routine that will relax your muscles and increase your strength.
Stretching is as important after running or walking as it is after weight lifting. A study found that regular stretching can increase your strength by up to 19 percent when interspersed between weight-training exercises. With additional muscle you'll have more calories burned throughout the day.
To keep your heart rate up while still stretching your whole body, try doing a series of 10-12 Sun Salutations, yoga's most aerobic move (it incorporates poses that flow from one to the next).
Here's a fast-paced variation of a stretching routine used in many Ashtanga classes:
- Stand with feet together and arms by sides. Inhale as you reach arms up overhead until palms touch. Look at hands.
- Exhale to Forward Bend, knees slightly bent and hands to feet.
- Inhale as you bend left knee and extend right leg back to a lunge. Keep hands on either side of your feet.
- Exhale and bring left leg in line with right, keeping head, torso and legs in one line for Plank pose.
- Lower legs and torso to floor, then raise head, neck and shoulders into a long Cobra pose.
- Push onto hands and feet, lifting hips to the sky to form an upside-down V. This is Downward-Facing Dog.
- Return to Cobra pose.
- Bring right foot up and lunge, keeping left leg straight behind you.
- Bring left foot up to meet right and return to Forward Bend.
- Inhale; sweep your arms out and up.
- Exhale and come back into the first standing posture, also known as Mountain pose. Repeat, moving quickly but without sacrificing your form or breathing.
Boost calories burned: You'll burn another 50 calories after your workout routines.