How To Burn Calories Intelligently

How To Burn Calories Intelligently

There’s infinite ways to burn calories that will help you lose body fat or maintain your ideal body fat level. Calories in/calories out is a law that every person has to abide by. Learning how to burn calories intelligently is the secret to maintaining your ideal physique and performance. 

How To Burn Calories Intelligently

1.Perform High Intensity Interval Training Over Steady State Cardio…Usually

HIIT training has been proven to be much more effective at burning body fat than regular steady state cardio. This is due to increased calories from the EPOC (excessive post exercise oxygen consumption) effect and muscle recovery. It’s also much more efficient, meaning you can burn more calories in the workout and 48 hour post workout window from HIITs than steady state cardio. With a shorter exercise duration. #shwing

However, it’s ideal to get a blend of less intense exercise in the 60-79% of max heart rate range for overall heart health (through increased stroke volume) and athletic performance. These less intense workouts can often be achieved as exercise circuits for a portion of your workout or extra cardio sessions for your 4th or 5th workout of the week.

In short, having a few focused workouts, such as three 45 minute workouts per week, is likely more effective than 6, moderate intensity, hour long cardio workouts.

Take Home: Train with focus and your best effort every workout. Don’t train HIIT style exclusively.

2. More isn’t better

If you need to train more than 4-5 times a week, you probably either have very lofty fitness goals, or are trying to make up for poor nutrition and lifestyle habits.

Training intensely more than 4-5 days a week can actually be detrimental to your heart, and nervous system recovery (when measured by Heart Rate Variability).

Excessive exercise frequency can also expedite joint pain and IT Band tightness if you’re running, shoulder tendonitis if you’re boxing or hip flexor tightness if your cycling for example.

All exercise has some degree of a risk to reward, and while extra mobility can help offset some of these negatives, that’s more of a time commitment than most people are willing to provide. So be mindful of the impact of your exercise besides the calories burned.

For acute periods, it can be beneficial to go past the 4-5 weekly max for most people, but the time required would probably be better served meal prepping, getting extra sleep, or improving their lifestyle in another way.

Also, long workouts have a similar point of diminished returns. This is likely due to hormonal shifts, but studies consistently show that somewhere around the 45 min mark of exercise being that threshold for most types of exercise.

Casual, non strenuous activity such as hiking, biking, and rock climbing are very healthy activities that will burn a lot of calories, improve your conditioning, and likely improve your overall recovery. Consider adding activities such as these to stay active and healthy…and if you’re getting itchy to exercise more than 5 times a week 🙂

Take Home: Train 3-5 days a week in different heart rate zones (60-79% and 80%-100% of max heart rate) to maximize caloric burn and heart health. It’s good to be active, but you shouldn’t workout everyday.

3. Strength Training Is The Most Beneficial Way To Burn Calories

We’ve shown how training in different heart rate zones has different benefits to your heart and overall caloric burn. But as you know, there’s more ways to exercise than treadmills, bikes, and other pieces of cardio.

These are great for burning calories, but performing a well planned strength training program is the optimal way to burn a majority of your calories.

Let’s compare these two examples:

A) Running on a treadmill for 10 minutes

B) Performing a tri-set of Alternating Reverse Lunges, Push-Ups and Plate Halos for 3 sets. 45 Seconds on, 10 second rest

Option B will not only burn the same or more calories over the next 48 hours, but you’re also improving your strength and muscle tone in your legs, glutes, abs and arms.

More than just calories burned, it will impact your hormone levels (insulin, cortisol, testosterone, etc) more positively than just cardio exercise.

In short, if a majority of your exercise routine is like this focusing on your whole body, it’s easy to see how this is more likely to produce your ideal physique and performance vs exclusively doing bikes, rowers, treadmills and other cardio.

We find that 2-3 days a week of well planned strength training (including low, medium and high reps) with short rest periods provides the 80/20 benefit that most people are looking for. This style of exercise is crucial to help them transform their bodies and prevent injuries.

The number of sets, reps, frequency and many other factors dictate unique responses, but that is outside of the scope of this article.

If you have very specific goals, then you may need a 4th day or a special program like we provide in our personal training program.

We also include plenty of metabolic conditioning every day to target that higher heart rate zone and improve your endurance.

To be clear, doing weight training with long rest periods and no extra cardio is an incomplete training program and not ideal for your heart or endurance.

But if you’re like most of our clients, they love fitness, but they have other things they want to accomplish, such as being a great partner, parent, friend and improve in their career.

Having a proven, fitness program that maximizes their time and results is pivotal to reaching those goals.

If you consistently following a plan like that, you can expect results like this:

Now you know the blueprint for how to burn calories intelligently: Strength training exercises in a well planned program that targets your muscles and heart in specific ways. 

Now take those golden nuggets and let’s make 2020 our best fitness year to date.

If you’d like help seeing how to make world class training fun, check out our Group Personal Training program by clicking the picture below.


About the Author: Marshall Ray

Marshall Ray is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Level 2 Poliquin International Certified Strength Coach (PICP), Biosignature Practitioner and a certified Precision Nutrition Coach (Pn1). He is the founder of Faster Fitness and co-founder of Femme Fit. He's passionate about building a community of people who love fitness and taking control of their health.