5 Ways to Burn More Calories with Your Home Workout
The past couple of months have been worrying and frustrating for many. With the increasing spread of COVID-19, governments have been forced to issue total or partial lockdown in an attempt to minimise the spread of this virus. We would like to urge you to stay at home as much as possible and maintain social distancing to help flatten the curve. This is not to say lockdown is easy. Staying indoors all day is tedious and sedentary, particularly for otherwise active working individuals.
Many of us are used to working out at the gym or going for an outdoor run. But since that is no longer possible, you might feel despondent about fitness. The good news is there are several ways to stay fit at home. Losing weight and keeping fit comes down to losing calories; the faster you can burn them, the better it is for your waistline and overall health. If you want to maximise your home workouts, here are a few tips to help you burn more calories and reach your fitness goals faster:
Add More Weight to Bodyweight Exercises
People who have more muscles or are heavier tend to burn more calories as their bodies work harder to keep them in motion. This doesn't mean that you should gain weight to burn more calories. You can, however, fake it by adding more weight to your at-home workout. Weight training builds muscle mass, and muscle tissue burns more calories than body fat –even post-workout. You should, therefore, focus on building muscles through bodyweight training.
It's important to note that the size of the weights matters more than the number of reps. Lifting heavier weights breaks down more protein in the muscles, requiring the body to use more energy to repair and recover. Adding more weight to your bodyweight workout can help you burn 8-25% more calories. You can use simple equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells, or even home-made rope balls.
Alternatively, you can wear weighted vests. These vests transform just about any workout activity into a resistance exercise. Your bodyweight exercises will feel like you have an extra person strapped on your back and the added load will make your workouts more effective without compromising your form. Don't worry if you don't have a weighted vest, there are several DIY videos online that can show you how to improvise one at home.
Prioritise Compound Exercises
Isolation exercises are meant to target specific muscle groups and allow you to improve your weaknesses and imbalances, but they are far from being optimal for fat-burning. You're better off doing compound movements. Compound exercises recruit and work more and bigger muscle groups all at once, thereby increasing the demand on your body during and after a workout. This will raise your metabolism and, in turn, increase the calories you expend.
For instance, doing bodyweight squats will work your glutes, hamstrings, core, and quads all at once. Other simple compound exercises you can incorporate into your home-workout include lunges, push-ups, bench presses, pull-ups, and deadlifts.
All these exercises have been shown to lower body fat significantly while increasing lean body mass. Done with dumbbells or barbells, you'll be able to work both your upper and lower body and get the most out of your workout.
Drink Lots of Water
Study shows that you're likely to burn up to 40% more calories if you stay in a cool room as your body works to stay warm. By the same logic, drinking as little as half a litre of cold water can boost your metabolism by 30-40% within 10 minutes, as your body works to warm the fluid. Therefore, try to drink about two cups of cold water before you start working out. The increased rate of metabolism also enables the body to easily burn more calories. Sipping chilled water before and during workouts also keeps your body temperature down and energy up. This will allow you to work out much longer for maximum calorie burn.
In addition to boosting your metabolism, drinking water throughout the day (particularly before meals) fills you up and keeps you from eating more food. Of course, this contributes a lot towards staying fit and health during this lockdown period.
Limit Your Rest and Use Supersets
Burning calories is mostly about keeping your heart rate high. When you exercise at a steady pace, you'll likely be putting in a medium amount of energy. But when you do high-intensity interval training (HIIT), your heart rate goes higher and increases your calorie burn. HIIT involves exercising for 30 seconds to several minutes at a high intensity, separated by a few seconds/minutes of recovery (no or low-intensity exercise). Always strive to go for a positive work-to-rest ratio every time you do HIIT. This means minimising your rest periods to keep your heart elevated for longer periods.
The more vigorous and intense your exercise is, the more calories your body will burn. You can increase the intensity and efficiency of your HIIT exercises by using supersets. This means performing two sets of exercises back-to-back as opposed to resting between a set of moves. For instance, if you plan on doing three sets of 10 sprints and three sets of 10 burpees, you should do 10 sprints and 10 burpees back-to-back. That way, you can rest certain muscle group while using another. And since you're not stopping, your heart rate stays in the calorie-burning zone. You can only rest for 30-60 seconds once you finish a full round. Repeat the combo set as many times as you can.
Incorporate Circuit Training
In addition to keeping your heart-rate high, it has become clear throughout this text that burning calories is also about working as many muscle groups as possible at one time. Circuit training does just that. Instead of doing two or three sets of a single exercise before moving to another, it's best to do just one set and quickly move to the next. Repeating that circuit three to four times allows you to work multiple muscle groups all at once, thereby building muscle mass all around your body and not just in one area. More muscles equal bigger resting energy expenditure, meaning your body burns more calories even when doing nothing.
Don't think of burning calories as something reserved for the gym. As you can see, you can burn calories anywhere, anytime. During these uncertain times of coronavirus infection, the one thing we can take control of is our health. Many are focusing on exercise to stay fit and lift their spirits. Any activity that raises your heart rate is good for your health, so become active in any way that you can.