As many of you may know - I’ve worked as a personal trainer for over 4 years and have seen and helped clients bodies transform. Through the years of training as well as researching the top trends - I’ve come to understand and implement specific exercises that burn fat. Before we dive into the exercises - here is a quick understanding of how strength training works!
Strength training is defined by using heavier weights in a progressive overload to enable adaptation to the musculature in your body. The best reason why strength training is so effective is because of how lean muscle uses energy during your resting times throughout the day.
For example, let's think about how a muscle like your quadriceps works when put under stress during strength training:
The muscle is put under tension during an exercise like a split squat, goblet squats, or back squat. An untrained quadriceps would, at rest burn less calories than a trained quadriceps.
Why is this you ask?
Well - as you train a muscle the body adapts to the stimulus by repairing and growing the muscle to better prepare you for the next time you do the exercise. An untrained muscle is not performing those exercises and therefore does not need to adapt to any stimulus. Therefore, energy expenditure to help the muscle is at a low since there is no demand for it to use energy to adapt.
A man and his calf
There is an old story about a man who found a newborn calf and decided to pick it up and walk it over a hill. Everyday this man would walk the calf up the hill. The calf grew in weight through each day as the man continued to do this act - the man too grew in strength and in size. The calf forced this man’s body to adapt to the increased weight over each day.
Okay so great - now all you need to do to burn more calories is to find a newborn calf and a hill!
Can’t find a newborn calf? Well looks like you won’t be burning more calories any day soon!
Luckily we have fitness equipment and gyms all over the place to take the place of the calf!
So how does this burn more calories?
Well, a muscle that grows in size is a muscle that needs more energy to work even at rest. What this means is that as you train your quadriceps, the muscles must need more energy (calories) to stay strong and to stay at its new size.
So, what are the best exercises to build muscle and therefore burn more calories?
Exercises that require more muscle mass and different body parts will be your most effective and time efficient exercises. Here are some of my go-to’s with clients of mine:
Back Squat / Goblet Squat - This exercise engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes primarily. It will also engage the lats, abs, and calves. This basic movement is one that you perform everyday and can use with weights to increase muscle mass therefore increasing calorie burn!
Hinge movements (Dead lift) - The hinge is a tougher movement to perform but this will be your deadlifts, Kettle Bell Swings, Single leg variations or Romanian dead lifts. This exercise will build the hamstrings, glutes, lower back and lats primarily. Also will engage the abs, the forearms, the traps. This is a beautiful thing as all of these muscles will grow and burn more calories with 1 single exercise!
Barbell push exercises - Exercises like barbell bench press, dumbbell bench press, barbell shoulder press, dumbbell shoulder press, and landmine shoulder press variations will increase size and strength in your anterior deltoid (shoulder), Chest, Triceps. All of these muscles get work while performing these exercises. Again this gives you the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to time spent performing an exercise.
Performing these exercises with the same principles as the man and his calf will keep the body feeling strong while also using more energy to sustain those new strong muscles! As long as you continue to challenge the body to grow you will be forcing the body to adapt and use more energy.
For most women out there the idea of muscles getting bigger can be alarming. Fear not! These exercises will not “get you bulky” but instead create a body that is strong and lean. Once you have this muscle added to your body you will effectively be turning it into a furnace that takes in food and uses those calories to fuel your daily activities.
So that’s all it takes?
I would be doing a poor job at teaching if I told you all you need to do is put some heavy weights on the bar and lift it. Weight loss is a full spectrum challenge, one that is aided by healthy eating, quality sleep, and plenty of water daily.
If there is anywhere to start though - start with building strength in your body! The rush of endorphins, the feeling of doing something new that you previously didn’t think you could will be the fire that needs to be lit to get started in your weight loss journey.
Please feel free to reach out to me @ firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about anything exercise or diet!
Now get out there and find your calf to carry!