When it comes to turbo-charging your metabolism, science has proven that the best way is to burn as many calories as possible during workouts. In short, the more intense the exercise, the more calories are burned during that exercise, and the longer your body will continue to burn calories at a higher rate after working out.
The aerobic energy system uses oxygen to produce muscular energy. When this energy is depleted, the body is left in a state of energy debt. This debt must be paid back. To accomplish this, the body increases its metabolism, taking in additional oxygen as an ingredient to help fuel the muscles. This concept, known as exercise after-burn, means extra calories are burned for minutes to days after working out--roughly a 5% increase to be more specific.
Low intensity exercise, like walking, may only extend exercise after-burn for 15 minutes. But high intensity exercise like running 8 miles per hour for a half hour may increase exercise after burn by as long as 24 hours.
When deciding how to spend precious exercise time, the secret is intensity, intensity intensity. A woman of 120 pounds will burn about 418 calories while running for 30 minutes at 8.5 miles an hour. The same woman will burn about 86 calories playing non-competitive volleyball for the same 30 minutes. To get the most calorie burn per workout, it is essential to consider which exercises yield the biggest results. A 120 pound woman, during a 30 minute workout will burn calories at the following rates:
Vigorous stationary bicycling: 302 calories
Moderate stationary bicycling: 202 calories
Vigorous stationary rowing: 245 calories
Moderate stationary rowing: 202 calories
Stair stepping machine: 173 calories
Low impact aerobics: 158 calories
Low impact step aerobics: 202 calories
High impact aerobics: 202 calories
High impact step aerobics: 288 calories
Rope jumping: 288 calories
Running 6 miles per hour: 288
Running 10 miles per hour: 475
High intensity exercise can be difficult, especially for beginners. Often it takes consistent, cardiovascular training to work up to the point where 30 minutes of straight, high intensity exercise is possible. One option is to use interval training.
Interval training is done by dividing a workout into blocks of exercise to be performed at different intensities. For example, thirty minutes of running can be divided into 15, 2-minute intervals. After a low intensity, cardio warm-up, the first interval should be low intensity. The second interval should be high intensity. Thus an interval-based workout should progress, alternating between low and high intensity intervals.
The goals should be to bring the heart up to near its maximum heart rate during intense intervals, and to drop it by 20 beats per minute during lower intensity intervals. A heart rate monitor can be used to accomplish this, but it isn't necessary. By merely hitting it as hard as possible during high intensity intervals, then dropping back to a moderate rate during low-intensity intervals, excellent results can be achieved.
When selecting an aerobic exercise class, it is an excellent idea to first consider the overall calorie burn rate of the class activity, whether it be aerobics, spinning, or cycle training. A second consideration is the instructor's style. Does she use interval-based aerobic exercise? Does she understand the concept of exercise after burn? Is her workout founded in scientific reason? A third consideration is the appeal of exercise. Sticking to a program can be much easier if its exercises are familiar and pleasant to perform. With these considerations, time at the health club can become as efficient as possible. Every minute of your workout should be spent judiciously. With a little forethought, you can gain the maximum benefits to every dollar and second you spend on improving your body.
- Craig, Nybo
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