Cardiovascular exercise such as running, jogging, walking, biking and group fitness classes are an excellent way to lose fat but often can give you a very lean look. To keep your muscle tone or build muscle with cardio, chose exercises that incorporate weights or plyometric movements into your routine. Using weight, weight-bearing or body-weight exercises while doing your aerobic activity will help you burn fat and still build muscle mass.
Move fast with weights. Moving from one weight routine to another quickly without rest is called interval training. Interval training burns the most fat in the least amount of time, according to Jason Karp’s article “Burn Fat More Efficiently” in the November 2009 “IDEA Fit Journal.” To effectively interval train for maximum fat burning and muscle building, chose two upper body, two lower body and two core body parts to train. Do 15 to 20 reps of each with a one-minute break between as you move to the next body part. Do these exercise sets three to four times in a row for a total of 30 minutes. The key is to keep your heart rate elevated, which helps burn fat while working with weights to build mass.
Make both feet come off the ground. Plyometric training is a type of movement that uses quick bursts of full muscular force, involving the legs, core or upper extremities, according to the “IDEA Fitness Journal” May 2009 article “Smart Tips for Plyometric Training” by author Peter Twist. Lunges with jumps, jumping jacks, squats with jumps and burpees are plyometric movements that should be done with bursts of two to three minute sprints in between each plyometric movement. Repeat this for a minimum of 20 minutes for effective aerobic benefits.
Work your core for bulk and fat burning. According to the “IDEA Fitness Journal” March 2006 article “Sample Class: Core Circuit Training,” an hour of core muscle conditioning, trunk stabilization techniques and postural alignment exercises can be one of the most effective circuit training routines.
To create this routine, begin with squats with overhead press and hip abduction, then standing hlp flexion, moving on to the plank pose. To perform a standing hip flexion, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, slowly raise your right to a 90 degree angle from your hip and then release it, repeat this on the left leg. The plank pose is done by lying face down on the ground with your arms bent and elbows next to your side. Curl you toes under and slowly lift your entire body off of the floor, pushing down on your forearms so your weight is supported by your core. Hold each plank pose for 30 seconds to one minute. From the plank pose, pop up and move into alternating lunges followed by push-ups, then end with abdominal crunches. Repeat these exercises in one set of eight to 12, allowing no breaks in between. Keep this going for a minimum of 20 minutes and a maximum of 30 minutes.
About this Author
Based in Malibu, Calif., Shannon Sukovaty has been writing health-related articles since 1992. Her articles have appeared in “Colorado Health” magazine, “Health and Fitness Journal” magazine, eHow, Associated Content, Word Press and other prominent websites. Sukovaty is a certified personal trainer with undergraduate studies in exercise physiology and credentials from IDEA, ACSM, AFAA and IPPA.