Build Your Own Fat-burning Machine
I have some great news for you!
You are the owner and operator of your very own fat-burning machine. It was given to you at birth, it’s always with you, and it even runs while you’re sleeping. Not all machines are created equal, but if you service it regularly and put in only the finest fuel, your machine will run like a dream.
If you haven’t already guessed, the fat-burning machine is your body. It’s unlike most other machines in that its efficiency is almost entirely dependent on your behavior. But how do we know the level of that efficiency?
We do it with one measure: resting metabolic rate (RMR), the rate at which you burn calories while at rest. RMR is so important because it works all the time. Would you rather run an extra mile or sleep if you could burn the same amount of calories? I enjoy a good run, but I know which method I’d choose most of the time.
A common myth is that we have no control over our metabolism. That’s a load of crap. Don’t get me wrong, the person with great genes starts out with a huge advantage. But just because you aren’t LeBron James doesn’t mean you can’t improve your field goal percentage.
Don’t just take it from me: In a study that observed the changes strength training had on RMR in men ages 50–65, researchers found that after 16 weeks of heavy-resistance strength training, RMR increased by an average of 7.7 percent. (Pratley, 133-137)
That is nuts!
What does it mean in practice, though? Let’s say you are a 5’10, 180-pound, 60-year-old man. Your RMR is estimated at about 1,850 calories per day.
Then you do a 16-week heavy-resistance strength training program, and boom: your RMR is now 7 calories short of 2,000 (an increase of 142.45).
With that same information, we can estimate the calories you would burn as a 5’10, 180-pound, 60-year-old man running a respectable nine-minute mile pace: about 137 calories.
Additionally, the more muscle you build, the more calories you need to maintain them. Thus, the more you lift weight, the more you need to eat! Basically the best news ever, right?
There are a few more ways to boost your metabolism:
1) Eat right. Consume lots of veggies and protein to feed those muscles you are trying to grow.
2) Drink plenty of water. Dehydration greatly hinders muscle development.
3) Train HIIT. High-intensity interval training, like the workout featured below, will help boost your metabolism.
You want to keep the fat burning machine working at maximum speed, but you can’t lift weights every day. Try this:
Metabolic Overdrive Workout (from/inspired by Alwyn Cosgrove)
This workout can be performed with any cardio exercise in a gym or outdoors. (It has been tweaked for a 12-week program, supplementing a 3x/week heavy resistance strength training program.)
· Warm-up: Go for 5 minutes at an easy pace.
· Rounds: 3 minutes each. Crank up the tension (or pace) as high as you can handle for 60 seconds. Then back off to a moderate pace for the remaining 2 minutes.
· Cool down: Go for 5 minutes at an easy pace.
Simple enough, right? Here’s how it will progress over time:
· Weeks 1–4: 4 Rounds, 4 times per week
· Weeks 5–8: 5 Rounds, 4 times per week
· Weeks 9–12: 6 Rounds: 4 times per week
Give it a try, and I guarantee you shed some fat!
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1. Pratley R, Nicklas B, Rubin M, et al. (1994.) Strength training increases resting metabolic rate and norepinephrine levels in healthy 50- to 65-yr-old men. J Appl Physiol. 1994;76(1):133-137.