Slideshow: 5 Ways to Lose Fat
By: Rachel Crocker; Photography by: Paul Buceta and Geoffrey Ross
1. Climb two steps at a time
Whether on the stepmill at the gym or scaling the floors in your office building, taking steps two at a time will provide greater muscular benefits and a greater overall caloric burn.
A study published in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that skipping a step when climbing burns up to 90 additional calories per hour and also engages hip and leg extensors at a greater rate.
Quick tip: You’ll burn more calories if you pump your arms at your sides, but if you find it difficult to keep your balance while stepping two stairs at a time, place one hand lightly on the railing for support.
2. Map out your plate
Taking a moment to mentally separate your dinner plate into sections can help you visualize how acceptable serving sizes look.
“Break” your plate in half; fill one of these sides with vegetables and whole grains. Split the other half into two once again; one of these sections will hold your lean protein serving while the other is the perfect size for a serving of healthy fats.
Quick tip: Use your side salad plate – not the gigantic large size that you may have grown up using – and be sure not to fill your plate to the brim.
3. Add five minutes to your time
If you generally go for 30 minutes during your cardio workout, try boosting your time to 35, tacking on another five minutes every second workout until you reach 45 minutes.
Increasing your workout time gradually will make the jump from a half hour to three-quarters of an hour seem like a breeze!
Quick tip: Even though you are exercising longer, don’t let your intensity drop. Keep your speed, incline and other workout settings at the same rates you would have during your shorter, original workout length.
4. Try a new, exotic food each week
You don’t have to be making squid and lemongrass stir-fry for every meal, but taking your taste buds on a culinary adventure every now and again can help relieve the mediocrity of dieting.
Never tried okra? Hit the search engines and research a new dish. Interested in papaya but haven’t taken the jump? Pack one for tomorrow’s lunch and share it with a work pal.
Quick tip: Check your local grocery store to see what’s in season; if you don’t like what you purchase, you’ll throw away less money than if you had purchased something that isn’t at its peak. Bonus: Your foodie finds will also be fresher.
5. Do an exercise – backward
We don’t mean that you should do an about-face when squatting or pressing. Instead, try focusing on the eccentric motion of each rep – basically, the portion of the exercise wherein your target muscle lengthens.
For example, as you are doing a biceps curl, slowly return the weight to the starting position, fighting against gravity, instead of letting your arms swing to the bottom. During a squat, use control and clench your glutes as you sink to the lowest part of the move.
Why? Your muscles are actually able to move more weight during the eccentric portion of a lift – up to 40 percent more, in fact – than during the concentric portion (when your muscle shortens to move a load). More resistance equal a higher caloric burn and greater strength gains for you.
Quick tip: Try doing your reps at a two-counts-up, four-counts-down pace to keep the emphasis on your eccentric contraction.