Fat-Burning Exercises

Motivational speaker and peak performance expert Denis Waitley once said, "Time is the most precious element of human existence. The successful person knows how to put energy into time and how to draw success from time."

The quote provides a secret formula for burning fat: We must use time to our advantage. I’m a big believer in setting short-term goals. I like long-term goals as well, but there’s something magical about a short time frame. It allows for maximum mental and physical focus.

If you think time and goals aren’t critical to your success, then think of the moments when you've heard people make general comments such as, "I'm going on a diet," "I'm going to start working out" or "I'm going to lose weight." These are all generic declarations with no time frame and no specific goal. The result: failure.

If you're focused you'll succeed. The problem with longer-term goals is that the longer time frame makes it difficult to achieve the goal. Motivation waivers, stress sabotages your efforts and... well, life happens. However, if you want to see fat burn off your thighs, butt and everywhere else, then a short-term goal is your best strategy.

I frequently provide eDiets members 30-day goals. We set one or two goals, no more than that. Again, we use time to our advantage.

I'm providing a four-week goal, which includes a cardio fat-blasting workout to help you to achieve some quick results.

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It's not possible to provide an exact solution for thousands of people who read this, but this plan will get you going in the right direction. If you abide by the formula, you can lose 6-7 pounds of fat in 30 days. Results will vary based on several factors, not the least of which is compliance.

If you're already an eDiets member, all you need to do is replace your current cardio workout with the one I'm providing. Your precise nutritional/caloric deficit is already taken care of by us. In fact, you have the hardest part out of the way.

If you're not an eDiets member, you'll need to reduce your current calories by approximately 200 or slightly below what you perceive to be maintenance. This isn't exactly how I would prescribe it, but it's the best recommendation I can provide if you're not on an eDiets plan.

Now it's time for the workout.

One fundamental problem with cardiovascular exercise for many people is that they never change their routine. I know people who've performed the same treadmill workout at the same intensity levels for the last two years. That's fine if you're looking for healthy maintenance, but it's ineffective if you want to burn fat.

Most people tend to do the same workout day in and day out and many end up giving up because they get psychologically burned out. It's sort of like eating a cheeseburger -- you may love burgers and it may be your favorite cheat food, but if you had to eat it every day for a year, I guarantee it would make the bottom of your favorite food list.

The same applies to exercise. You simply can't use the treadmill or elliptical every single workout for the same amount of time and same intensity levels. It will eventually catch up to you. When it does, you'll start to make excuses as to why you can't workout and you'll actually convince yourself the excuses are legitimate.

The human body will adapt to any exercise routine in about four to six weeks. If you do the same routine over and over, the body will adapt and become efficient at the movement. That's a good way to hit the dreaded plateau.

The following is my four-week fat-blasting workout that's designed to produce results. If you've been power walking for 20 minutes on the treadmill every day for the last year, things are about to change. You can select any type of cardio you wish as long as you adhere to the parameters of each two-week segment.

The goal for the workout is to stimulate your metabolism as efficiently as possible in a four-week time frame. We accomplish this by varying duration, level of intensity and change of workout protocol.

Fat-blasting workout 1. Longer duration/moderate intensity (week 1 and 2) -- This cardio method is based on keeping an elevated heart rate but not working so hard you're short of breath. I recommend 40-45 minutes (beginners can begin with 20 minutes) of power walking or light jogging. This can be performed three to five days per week depending on your level of experience. I also recommend maintaining a heart rate of approximately 70 to 75 percent.

2. Interval Training (weeks 3 and 4) -- This workout can be performed three to four days per week. Interval training is best described as incorporating higher intensity exercise with lower intensity ones. This method helps stimulate and speed the metabolism. Intervals can be applied to any form of cardiovascular exercise and, although it's been a widely used technique for training competitive athletes since the 1950s, the concept grew into mainstream fitness in the 1990s.

The beauty of interval training is that you don't have to work out for long periods.

The following is a protocol for interval training using the treadmill as an example:

  • Warm-up for 5 minutes at light speed level
  • On the 6th minute, increase to 4.0 mph (light jog)
  • On the 7th minute, increase to 5.0 mph
  • On the 8th minute, increase to 7.5-8.0 mph (this should be an all-out sprint)
  • For the next 2 minutes (minutes 9 and 10), return to 3.0 mph
  • Repeat each of those phases two additional times, but increase the level of intensity 1 mile per hour on each phase.
  • Cool down for 5 minutes at 3.0 mph.
  • In this example, you are to perform three cycles of higher intensity training. If you're at a more advanced fitness level, then you'll need to adjust the speeds accordingly to make sure the intensity is somewhat demanding at the higher levels.

    The mind functions best when it sees the goal in sight and that's part of the beauty of this brief four-week program. It's not like I'm asking you to perform a 6- to 12-month program. This program will stimulate your metabolism and you'll continue to burn calories the day after your workout.

    Most people are obsessed with how many calories are burned during a workout, but one of the keys to losing fat is making sure your body continues to burn lots of calories 24 to 48 hours after the workout.

    Beginners should reduce each workout by one day, decrease time by 5 minutes and perform at a level of intensity that is comfortable (approximately 55 to 60 percent of target heart rate). I also encourage you to invest in a heart-rate monitor to accurately gauge your individual target heart rate.

    Twenty-eight days is not a long time. Focus on your nutrition and my workout protocol and you'll reap big rewards. Please check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

    Looking for more information? Join eDiets and visit Raphael's support group (Fitness For You) for interactive support! We all know fitness is a vital part of living a healthy lifestyle -- let Raphael and eDiets help you on your way!

    A drug-free competitive bodybuilder and 2005 winner of the prestigious WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation) Pro Card, Raphael Calzadilla is a veteran of the health-and-fitness industry. He specializes in a holistic approach to body transformation, nutrition programs and personal training. He earned his B.A. in communications from Southern Connecticut State University and is certified as a personal trainer with ACE and APEX. In addition, he successfully completed the RTS1 program based on biomechanics.

    By Raphael Calzadilla, B.A, CPT, ACE eDiets Chief Fitness Pro


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