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10 ways to boost calorie burn at the gym

Trick up your workout with these simple techniques to burn more fat at the gym.      1. Aim for 3-7 repsTo boost metabolism, you want fewer reps with heavier weights according to the Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education. To maximise calorie burn after your workout (a.k.a. excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC), aim for three to seven reps.   2. Combine loadsWhile lifting heavy and slow optimises afterburn, there’s something to be said for lighter weights. While they won’t buy you free on-couch calorie burn, researchers at the College of New Jersey say lighter weights may burn more kJs in session. The smart money’s on splicing heavy and light sets – try heavy for three to seven reps and light for 10 to 20. If that’s too easy, do two sets of heavy, two sets of light.   3. Rest lessTo elevate calorie burn by around 50 per cent, reduce rest time between sets from three minutes to 30 seconds, suggest College of New Jersey researchers.   4. Go hard or go homeWhile controlled moves demand more energy than loose ones, don’t take that as a cue to move in slow-mo. Lifting with explosive movements will engage more fast-twitch muscle fibres, which chew through more fuel than their slow-twitch peers according to a study at Ball State University. Choose a weight about 30 per cent of your 1 rep max (1RM), which means one you can lift 15 to 35 times per exercise. Complete four to five sets comprising two fast sets of three to eight reps and two to three at normal speed.   5. Rock the beatFiring up your Soundcloud before you hit the treadmill is a secret fat-burn weapon. In a study presented to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, those who worked out to their favourite playlist logged greater intensity and fat loss. Listening to tunes correlated with significantly higher reps than silence.   6. Reverse chargesIf you usually tack resistance onto the end of a cardio workout, you’re cutting off your nose to spite your fat loss. Fix? Switch the order. According to Japanese researchers, doing resistance before cardio results in greater fat burn. Better news: assuming it’s high intensity, you can cut your cardio to 15 minutes, which is the window in which the burn is highest.   7. Short circuitTo really make your cardio work, chunk it into short stints at near-maximum exertion. Try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) at 90 per cent of your maximum heart rate (MHR) augmented by stints at walking pace. Most steady-state cardio demands 60 to 70 MHR. Try the 20/10 rule (sprint for 20 seconds, walk or jog for 10).   8. Take a breakHaven’t got the endurance to stay on the bike for 30 minutes? Not an excuse to not work out. In fact, one study found that breaking your cardio into 10-minute bursts broken by 20-minute rests resulted in greater fat burn and higher EPOC.   9. Delay the playCan’t fathom getting up at the crack of dawn? Good, because you’ll burn more calories per session after work. In a University of Wisconsin study, participants who exercised for half an hour between 5 and 7pm raised metabolic rate more than morning exercisers – as measured by post-workout calorie burn. End-of-day sessions also trumped lunchtime workouts.   10. Ring a bellKettlebells can add a serious calorie burn premium to a HIIT workout. The combination of weight load, heart rate elevation and whole-body movement makes kettlebells an all-in-one winner according to exercise physiologist Richard Garard. Try using them in eight 20-second intervals, aiming for maximum swings per round. By round five or six you should be flagging. WARNING: If you’re new to kettlebells, enlist a trainer for a single session to teach you proper form. These things can be dangerous.   NEXT: How many calories are in your coffee? {nomultithumb}    

Pedal power

Jumping on a shiny new steed and pedalling off into the sunset is a glorious feeling – you just can’t beat it! But if you haven’t saddled up for a few years, you may be wondering where to start or why to bother. Don’t worry! We caught up with Gareth Turner from Cyclebeat (cyclebeat.co.uk) to chat about the benefits of life on two wheels and how you can get back in the race. 

Slim cycle

Jumping on your bike is a fantastic way to blitz calories and trim down. ‘Cycling is a great way to lose weight and a brilliant way to burn calories – you can burn around 500 calories an hour cycling and sometimes much more,’ says Gareth. ‘Cycling can also have the added benefit of increasing your metabolism – even after the ride is over.

And it’s a great option for working out on your commute. Think about it – you can get your workouts in on the way to and from work and cancel that gym membership altogether if you want! ‘And, because it is a non-weight bearing exercise, it’s a lot easier on the joints than something like running, so you can do it more often,’ says Gareth. Sounds good to us!

It’s also a great toner, working your lower body hard, which – thanks to this focus on the bigger muscles in your body (bum and legs!) also burns fat. ‘Cycling helps to tone your muscles and works your calves, thighs and bottom, while also giving your shoulders and arms a workout, too,’ says Gareth.

Healthy heart

Cycling is not only bags of fun, and a great way to stay in shape, it’s good for your heart, too. ‘Cycling improves cardiovascular fitness,’ explains Gareth. ‘And the British Heart Foundation says that cycling regularly can help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 50 per cent.’ 

Mind matters

And getting on your bike could have benefits for the mind, too. ‘It’s not just the body that sees the benefits, as cycling is believed to reduce stress, anxiety and provide a sense of wellbeing,’ says Gareth. A cycle home after a long day is a great way to shake off your worries.

Wheely wheely fun

Whizzing around on a bike gives you a great sense of freedom and there are so many types of cycling, and types of bikes, you can try. ‘Cycling can be very varied and fun – try mountain bike trails, exhilarating downhills, BMX and road biking with amazing views,’ says Gareth. Plus it’s one of the few workouts in which you can have a good gas with your mates, too! Have you every tried catching up over a quick swim or disco rave class?! ‘Cycling can be very social by riding in a group and also with the family – everyone can get involved,’ adds Gareth. 

Back to it!

Check out Gareth’s top tips for beginners or those getting back into cycling:

The first thing that you will need is a bike; it’s best to visit a good bike shop where they can give advice and find you a bike that fits properly.

Start by riding comfortably for up to 45 minutes three times a week, then look to slowly build on the number of sessions, duration and speed of sessions gradually.

There are cycling proficiency courses that can build skills and get you ready for the road if you’re nervous.

Practise riding in a traffic-free area, such as a local park, to build confidence.

Why not get used to pedalling, standing and clipping in and out of pedals at a studio such as Cyclebeat (cyclebeat.co.uk) before heading out.

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