One of the most disappointing feelings is going to a class or the gym and feeling like you didn't get your best workout. Why bother, right? So how do you make the most of your exercise time — and make sure you're burning as many calories as possible?
Coffee, leg work, weights first, and group fitness. Here's why!
Drink Caffeine Beforehand
Did you know that caffeine can be a serious performance enhancer — and can help you burn more calories? Both coffee and green tea contain bioactive compounds (coffee has caffeine and green tea has polyphenolic catechins like epigallocatechin gallate), which have been shown to increase metabolic rate and fat oxidation, which leads to an overall increase in energy expenditure — meaning more calories are burned — at rest and after exercise.
Focus on Big Muscle Groups
Leg day is more important than you think! Big muscles need big energy, and they use up a lot of calories when you're using them. Large muscles are not only made up of more muscle fibers, the muscle fibers are also longer — therefore, they contain more energy-dependent contractile units. When strength training, be sure to focus on the largest muscle groups in the body: the glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
This is good news for your metabolism, and your body's natural protein production. You actually creating more protein up to 24 hours after lifting, but the process of creating protein requires energy as well [meaning calories need to be burned], so your metabolism is certainly going to be ramped up.
It's a good idea to add some lower-body work into your workouts. By targeting the larger muscle groups through squats, lunges, deadlifts, etc., you are using more energy stores to fuel the movements, therefore burning more than if you targeted smaller muscle groups.
But first, Weights
Because each exercise affects your cells and your metabolism differently, the order of your exercise is important. Weight should be done first. Weight lifting and resistance training utilizes anaerobic glycolysis to fuel quick, explosive movements. This means your muscles will be primarily fueled by free glucose and intramuscular glycogen stores — carbohydrates.
Do a Group Fitness Class
Apparently group fitness classes are more than just fun — they're super effective. Research from Penn State University in partnership with Les Mills Internati onal demonstrated that a 30-week group exercise program resulted in not only decreased body fat, cholesterol and depression in participants, but also lead to increases in lean body mass (fat-free muscle mass).