Fire Up Fat Burning

Ketchup or mustard? Flats or heels? The X Factor or The Voice? That eternal fitness face-off—cardio or strength training—is just as perplexing. Cardio is a known calorie crusher, but strength workouts build muscle and boost metabolism. But you don't have to choose sides: A new regimen experts have dubbed metabolic conditioning offers the best of both.

By combining short, high-intensity work periods, little to no rest between weight-loss exercises, and big-body movements, metabolic conditioning challenges your strength, power, and cardiovascular endurance in one workout—maximizing calorie burn during and after a sweat session, says Frank Salzone, a group fitness instructor for Equinox in New York City. It also helps improve your muscles' ability to use energy during workouts, so you can push harder and get better results over time.

Sound too good to be true? It's no gimmick: A study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that women who completed a 10-move strength circuit recorded 13 percent higher oxygen consumption levels (or EPOC, which measures the energy used to return your body to a resting state) three hours after their workout than a control group. Plus, their resting metabolic rate (the amount of calories burned at rest) was still elevated 16 hours later.

All this considered, it's no surprise that metabolic conditioning is a growing blueprint for a number of fitness programs—including Equinox's MetCon3 class, which inspired this workout by Salzone. Complete this circuit three days a week: For each exercise, perform as many reps as you can (with proper form) in one minute, moving from one to the next without resting. After all 10 moves, rest for up to two minutes. Repeat the circuit two more times, for a total of three rounds. Choose a weight that allows you to do the moves with proper form but leaves your muscles burning by the end of a minute.

1. Reverse Lunge With Curl And Press


Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, step your left foot back, and bend both knees to lower into a lunge (a). Keeping your elbows close to your body, rotate your palms toward you and curl the weights to shoulder height (b), then rotate your palms 180 degrees and press both arms straight overhead (c). Lower the dumbbells to your sides, then press through your right heel and stand. That's one rep. Repeat on the other side and continue alternating.

2. Overhead Lat Release


Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet together; raise the weights overhead, palms facing forward (a). Slowly bend your elbows out to the sides until the weights are at shoulder height (b). Quickly press the weights overhead to return to start. That's one rep.

Keep the rest of your body still (and core super-tight) while moving only your arms.

3. Dumbbell Speed Skater


Hold the ends of a dumbbell, jump to the right, and as you land, cross your left leg behind you, bend your knees, and lower the weight outside your right leg (a). Quickly hop and repeat on the other side (b). That's one rep.

4. T Pushup


Perform a pushup (a) and as you press back up to start, rotate to the right and raise your right arm overhead (b). Return to start, then repeat, this time rotating to the left. That's one rep.

5. Pushup-position Row


Get into a pushup position with your hands resting on dumbbells, feet slightly more than hip-width apart (a). Pull one weight toward the side of your chest (b). Lower and repeat on the other side. That's one rep.

Your hips should stay parallel to the floor, not twist from side to side.

6. Sumo Circles


Hold the ends of a dumbbell and stand with your feet more than hip-width apart, toes turned out. Keeping your back flat, push your hips back and bend your knees to squat as low as possible, lowering the dumbbell toward the floor (a). In one motion, stand up and raise your left knee to hip height while circling the weight clockwise (b), then lower your foot and continue circling the weight back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. That's one rep.

7. Shuffle Punch


Holding a pair of dumbbells at shoulder height, quickly shuffle to the right (a), then pivot your feet and punch your left arm across your body (b). Reverse the motion to return to start. Repeat on the other side. That's one rep.

8. Reverse Tabletop Extension


Lie faceup, hips and knees bent 90 degrees, and hold a pair of dumbbells directly over your shoulders, palms facing each other (a). In one motion, brace your core and slowly lower the weights behind you and extend your legs, bringing your arms and legs as close to the floor as possible without touching it (b). Pause, then reverse to return to start. That's one rep.

9. Side Lunge And Row


Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides and take a step to the right, lowering into a side lunge and moving the weights toward the floor, keeping your back flat (a). Bend your elbows out to the sides to raise the dumbbells (b). Lower your arms and reverse the movement to return to standing. Repeat on the other side. That's one rep.

Push your hips back as you lunge, and keep your chest upright.

10. Plank Spider-man Extension


Start in plank position with your forearms on the floor, elbows directly under your shoulders, and legs extended. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels (a). Bend your right knee toward the outside of your right elbow (b), then extend it straight behind you, keeping your foot a few inches off the floor (c). Pause, then lower your foot to the ground. Switch legs and repeat on the other side. That's one rep.


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