Top 4 Workouts to Kickstart Your Metabolism
Whether it’s fast or slow, you can use exercises and workouts to kickstart your metabolism. Metabolisms can become sluggish for any number of reasons: age, inactivity, yo-yo dieting, medications, stress, illness, and more. Luckily, ramping your metabolism back up is easy when you use exercise as a key strategy.
What Is Your Metabolism?
In short, your metabolism is the way your body takes the foods and drinks you consume and converts them into usable fuel for bodily functions and activities. When your body is at rest, it still needs energy to survive. For example, keeping your heart beating, your lungs working, your blood pumping, your digestive system moving. All these functions require energy. The sum of this energy dictates what’s known as your “basal metabolism,” or the number of calories needed to keep your body going.
Of course, those aren’t the only calories you need (luckily!). Other things will boost your metabolism, so you require additional calories. Things like sitting, standing, walking, and even eating, for example, all demand extra calories.
If you want to really kickstart your metabolism, though, and make sure your body needs a lot of extra calories to maintain your weight, you can do so with exercise. Specifically, with aerobic training and weight lifting.
Using Aerobic and Anaerobic Activity to Boost Your Metabolism
When you exercise, there are two ways to power those workouts. One is aerobic, meaning it involves oxygen. The other is anaerobic, meaning “without oxygen.” Typical cardiovascular exercise includes walking, running, biking, swimming, etc. These are considered to be aerobic, whereas activities like lifting weights are anaerobic and rely mainly on glycogen or blood sugar. You can use both systems to your advantage when it comes to kickstarting your metabolism with exercise alone.
What Is EPOC?
A very interesting thing happens when you do high-intensity interval cardio. EPOC, which stands for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) involves the time when your body is still “overheated” from exercise. While exercise, in general, will cause an “afterburn” effect, the most effective and long-term EPOC phenomenon occurs when you demand extra oxygen during exercise. This causes your body to burn more calories even after you’ve finished your workouts.
The best types of exercise to take advantage of EPOC are high-intensity aerobic training and interval training, along with weight lifting with short rest periods between sets.
Try these Exercises and Workouts to Kickstart Your Metabolism
When you’re ready to kick your metabolism up a notch, you’ll want to take advantage of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This type of training will boost your body’s fat-burning ability and provide you with the coveted EPOC afterburn effect.
Tabata Workouts—this quick yet very effective workout is a great fat burner and relatively simple. And because of its intensity, a Tabata workout will rev up your metabolism for hours with only four minutes of work (that’s right: four minutes!). The workout is based on doing eight rounds of exercise at full intensity for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest.
You can do a Tabata workout with any number of different exercises as long as you stick with all-out effort for 20 seconds, followed by your 10-second rest period. Try mixing it up by doing kettlebell swings one day, jumping jacks or jump rope the next, and maybe mountain climbers the next. Your ingenuity is the only limit.
Cycling and Spin Classes—these types of workouts naturally incorporate different intensities into the routine. With a spin class, you’ll do short bursts of tough cycling interspersed with intervals at a light, easy pace. With outdoor cycling, you’ll invariably encounter hills, and you can use these as intervals or create your own intervals by building in cycling sprints.
Or, create your own high-intensity interval cardio workout by doing short bursts of high-intensity movement followed by a small period of slower movement. For example, after warming up, run as fast as you can for 15 seconds and then walk for 45 seconds. Continue this pattern for up to 15 minutes before cooling down.
Body Weight Movements—this type of workout may seem easy on the surface, but it most assuredly is not. Using a combination of plyometric movements and calisthenics, you can use the same HIIT formula to kickstart your metabolism. Simply choose exercises, like mountain climbers, knee ups, or push-ups, and do as many as you can for 15 – 20 seconds, followed by up to one minute of rest. Repeat for 12 – 15 cycles to complete your workout.
Weight Lifting to Kickstart Your Metabolism
As great as it is to rev up your metabolism with aerobic workouts, wouldn’t it be even greater if you could permanently raise it? You can! How? It’s one of the fabulous side benefits of lifting weights.
Whereas body fat burns no extra calories, muscle mass requires additional calories just to exist. You can do the math: more muscle mass equals greater calorie burn, which translates to a higher metabolism, to the tune of about six extra calories burned per pound of lean muscle per day.
But, that’s only half of the good news. Besides the boost your metabolism gets from the extra muscle mass, you can also kickstart your metabolism by lifting weights strategically. For example, if you use a cadence of short bursts of heavy lifting, coupled with short rest intervals, you’ll also experience a bump in your metabolism. Or, try doing multiple sets with a light weight for 25 – 30 repetitions at a time, again with little rest between sets, for maximum metabolic impact.
You can generate this benefit with any combo of weight training. But, to build and maintain muscle mass, aim for three to four days per week of lifting. To build muscle, stick with heavy weights and fewer reps. For toning, go with the high rep short rest sequence.
While there are many ways to kickstart your metabolism, using exercise to your advantage is a great solution. Not only will you bump up that metabolism, but you might like the added side benefit of being in great shape—that is, looking and feeling your best!