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Strength Workout: The Secret to Firing Up Your Metabolism

Build Muscle to Burn Fat

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There's one misconception that seems to prevail among fit women the most: "Lifting heavy weights makes you look bulky." This is a myth that must be busted! In reality, proper strength training does just the opposite. When you lift weights (especially the heavier ones), you're helping transform your body in two primary ways:

1. You add lean muscle mass to your frame, which requires more fuel (i.e. calories) for everyday functioning than fat. So the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn just living and breathing.

2. It takes energy to repair the muscles you break down while training, so that's even more calories burned. Strength training is also key for achieving that defined look we all want—which is much harder to get with cardio alone.

Try this workout with a challenging weight so your body has to recruit multiple muscle groups for every move. Click to the next page to get started!

RELATED: 5 Ways to Get Your Metabolism Soaring

Photo: Getty Images

Workout Details

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How it works: Do 1 set of each exercise in order, resting 30 to 45 seconds between moves. Repeat the entire circuit 2 more times (3 total rounds). For exercises that use a bar, start with the bar alone and add weight after you've learned proper form.

You'll need: A set of heavy dumbbells (20 to 30 pounds), a barbell, and a jump rope.

Photo: Getty Images

Barbell Front Squats

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Reps: 8

A. Place squat bar in the rack at shoulder height. Grab the bar with an underhand grip and step forward so it rests on shoulders. Pick the bar up and take one step back, keeping elbows lifted the entire time.

B. Step feet slightly wider than hip width with toes turned out. Shift hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat. When thighs are nearly parallel with the ground, pause, and then press away from the ground to return to standing. Keep chest lifted and spine neutral during the entire movement, and press knees out, do not let them collapse inward.

Barbell Deadlifts

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Reps: 8

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding barbell in front of thighs with hands about shoulder width. Activate the upper back by squeezing shoulder blades together.

B. With knees slightly bent, shift hips back, and hinge forward, lowering torso until nearly parallel with the ground. Keep core braced, glutes engaged, and barbell close to the legs. Return to standing by pressing the hips forward and bringing the barbell back to the starting position (the bar should stay close to body the entire time). Start with just the bar to learn proper form, then add weight when you're ready.

Walking Lunges

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Reps: 8

Grab a pair of dumbbells (challenging weight) and hold them by your sides. Take a big step out with your right foot and lower into a lunge, bending both knees 90 degrees. Press through front heel to return to standing, then immediately step into the next lunge (stepping forward with left foot). Continue "walking" until you've completed the prescribed number of reps on both legs.

Barbell Presses

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Reps: 8

Stand with the barbell resting on your shoulders, elbows up, and chin parallel to the ground. Take a slight bend in knees to gain power, and then quickly straighten legs as you press the bar overhead. Keep wrists facing forward and hips below shoulders. Slowly return the bar to the starting position and repeat.

Barbell Rows

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Reps: 8

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding the barbell in front of thighs with wrists below shoulders. Bend both knees and shift hips way back, bringing torso to a tabletop position.

B. Bend elbows up to the ceiling as you raise the bar to your chest. Keep gaze down at the floor in front of you to avoid straining neck. Pause at the top, then slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position; repeat.

Jump Rope

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Reps: 3 minutes

Grab the jump rope and do a 3-minute session at a fast pace. This will keep your heart rate up. Be sure to maintain good posture and use your wrists more than your arms to swing the rope.


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