3 Fat-Burning Exercises for the Holiday Season

by | December 23, 2013 at 3:43 PM | Health

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By , USNews.com

The holidays are quickly approaching, and that means we’ve all become a little relaxed with our workouts and healthy eating. Who can find time to work out between all the shopping, wrapping and baking?

I’m not just talking about cardio, though. A lot of women assume lifting weights will make you bulky or manly. I’ll stop you here because that assumption is false, and you know what they say about assumptions, right?

Don’t get me wrong: Lifting weights will definitely change your body composition, but you would have to take in way more calories than you need on a daily basis, work out consistently every day, have abnormally high levels of testosterone and/or be taking steroids to have the physical appearance of a man.

There are women out there who wish it were that easy.

The truth: Lifting weights actually increases your metabolism and makes you burn more calories, even when you’re standing still. Ahem – this means being smaller by doing nothing. Sounds like a plus to me.

Studies suggest that weight training boosts your basal metabolic rate for up to 24 hours after a workout. This means you’re not only burning calories in the gym, but also afterwards as you watch TV, sleep and so on. The more muscle you have, the higher resting metabolism you’ll have, thus meaning you’ll burn more calories. Aside from the obvious benefit of gaining strength from lifting weights, you’ll also strengthen your bones, prevent health complications down the road, boost your stamina and improve your posture.

Consistent weight training will increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, which women are four times more likely to suffer from than men. As a whole, our health deteriorates the older we get, but lifting weights will slow down the process by lowering your blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Plus, the physical strength you gain will allow you to play with your kids longer, go up and down stairs without gasping for air, and go on a bike ride without wondering how long it’s been since you left the house.

Time is always of the essence, so combining several exercises into one compound movement will get you in and out of the gym in a timely manner. Try adding these three exercises to your routine to burn some fat and blast through a workout in no time:

You can complete 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise in a row. Rest for one minute. Repeat the circuit two more times, resting a minute between each set. Pick a weight that allows you to comfortably complete between 12 to 15 reps with good form. If you can do 15 with no problem, you should increase the weight. If you struggle to get to 12, decrease the weight. Bonus: All of these exercises could be performed at home if you have a couple dumbbells.

• Dumbbell squat with an overhead press. Hold a dumbbell with both hands at chest height, and position your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart. Slowly squat to the ground pushing all the weight through your feet and your rear end back, as if you were sitting in a chair. Go as low as you can without falling over. On the way back up, press the weight straight overhead until your arms lock out, and then return it to chest height. Repeat.

• Walking lunge with bicep curl. Hold two dumbbells at your side. Drop down into a lunge. While down, bring your arms up for a bicep curl (make sure to keep your back knee low during the curl) and return them to your sides before standing back up from your lunge. Tip: Make sure you’re getting a far enough stride with your lunge, ensuring your front knee doesn’t go over your toe. Switch legs and repeat.

• Burpee pushup. This is a great full-body workout that doesn’t require any weights and will get your heart racing. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and squat down to the ground, placing your hands on the floor in front of you. Jump your legs back so you’re in a pushup position. Lower your chest down and up for the pushup. Kick your legs back to the original squat position and jump straight up in the air, thrusting your arms towards the sky. Repeat.

Disclaimer: Use the information presented at your own discretion and risk. Always consult your physician before starting any exercise program if you have any existing medical conditions.

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns and feedback.

Jolynn Toma has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, as well as an ISSA Specialist in Fitness Nutrition. She owns a private personal training studio in Illinois, specializing in strength training, cardio endurance and nutrition. Connect with her on her website, Lift Pray Love.

US News

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.