Winter can be a challenging time for fat burning, but with some knowledge around the best exercises, it does not have to be that hard. One of the biggest challenges we face each winter when trying to muster the motivation to exercise, is battling the intense chill that hits us each with what feels like an icey slap in the face at 6am. Top that with a few to many downpours of rain and we have a recipe fit for us once again hitting the snooze button on a daily basis.
This is something we face every winter that for some, doesn’t seem to get any easier. Fortunately though, one of the best ways to warm ourselves up and beat the cold is to get ourselves moving.
Why do we get hot when we exercise?
When we utilise our muscles for quick movements and exercise, oxygen and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) stores are depleted. The body then needs to replenish these stores which produce heat energy as a byproduct. Coupled with an increased heart rate and blood pumping to and from our most utilised muscles, we begin to rapidly burn more calories and in turn forget we were ever cold to begin with.
In this article we will give you 5 of the best fat burning exercises to get your heart rate pumping, keep the winter weight off, and turn your internal thermostat all the way up this winter.
Exercise 1 – Squat Jumps
What are squat jumps good for?
This lower body body exercise lights a fire in our quadriceps, glutes, and calves from the get go as we bend the knees and explode into the air with each rep. This explosive movement increases our heart rate and strengthens our leg muscles while also training our balance and coordination as we attempt to keep steady under increasing fatigue.
How to perform Squat Jumps:
- Start upright with a stance between hip and shoulder width apart, toes slightly turned out (0-30°), and looking straight ahead.
- Start the movement by shifting your hips back, then bend your knees until your thighs reach parallel to the ground.
- From here push through the ball of your foot to explode back up jumping a few inches into the air.
- Landing – on descent it is important you bend the knees and sit the hips back as you reconnect with the ground. This will help take the force in a relatively safe and dispersed manner.
- Repeat the above for the required number of repetitions and sets of your workout (see below).
TIP: Utilise momentum from your arms by swinging them downward as you leap into the air and out in front as you land for balance. Alternatively you can pair this exercise with a weighted object or dumbbell in hand placed in front of your chest to increase the difficulty.
AVOID: Try to avoid landing with straight legs or your heels hitting the ground before your toes. This will increase the strain on your lower body joints unnecessarily.
Exercise 2 – Mountain Climber:
What are mountain climbers good for?
The mountain climber works all of our muscles at once, especially those in the front portion of our body. Working the Calves, Quadriceps, Abdominals, Obliques, Pectorals, Shoulders, and Arms mainly. More than just a few it is clear that this exercise is going to be challenging but most rewarding at the same time. Furthermore, the quick nature of the movement increases our heart rate positively stressing our cardiovascular endurance for improved cardiac health long term.
How to perform Mountain Climbers:
- Put both hands and knees on the floor.
- Place your right foot near your right hand and extend your left leg behind you.
- In one smooth motion, switch your legs, keeping your arms in the same position.
- Switch your legs back and forth twice, such that your right leg is again close to your right hand.
TIP: For a greater emphasis on the core, try bringing your knee across your body to the opposing elbow. As you bring your knee up, also shift your weight slightly forward making your shoulders take more of the load. This will create a greater need for your abdominals to engage, strengthening and helping keep your waistline slender.
AVOID: Avoid cheating the exercise and yourself by raising your knees only part the way to your elbows. The main benefits from this exercise are seen with full range of motion.
Exercise 3 – Skater Jumps
What are skater jumps good for?
Skater Jumps are great for improving our single leg strength and balance. Both of these attributes become more and more critical as we age. Furthemore, single limb exercises will help improve muscle symmetry, preventing imbalances and reducing injury risk.
How to perform Skater Jumps:
- Start in a small squat. Jump sideways to the left, landing on your left leg. Bring your right leg behind to your left ankle, and don’t let it touch the floor.
- Reverse direction by jumping to the right with your right leg. This completes one rep.
TIP: For consistent repetitions and to provide a point of reference, place objects on the ground where you intend on landing with each sideways jump. You can then increase the distance of these for greater difficulty overtime to keep it interesting and challenging.
AVOID: Try to avoid staying upright whilst performing this movement. Keep low and bend your knees as you land for greater leg development and stability.
Exercise 4 – Shoulder Taps
What are shoulder taps good for?
Shoulder taps are a great core, leg and shoulder strengthening exercise. Our muscles are designed to help us move in many great ways, though they are also there to help us stabilise (anti-rotation). As you lift your arm off the ground to tap your opposing shoulder, you require a great amount of core stability to prevent your hips from shifting.
How to perform Shoulder Taps:
- Start in a high-plank position with shoulders stacked over wrists.
- Engage your core to stabilise your body as you lift your right hand off the ground and touch your left shoulder.
- Repeat with your left hand, making sure to keep your hips stable and at the same height as your shoulders.
TIP: Place a book or small weight plate on your lower back for an added challenge. Try to perform the movement with speed and control, not letting the object fall from your lower back.
AVOID: The temptation of raising your hips too high (above shoulder height). This will take the tension away from your core and negate some of the great benefits of the movement.
Exercise 5 – Burpees
What are burpees good for?
Anyone that has done a few burpees will tell you straight away how much they get the heart pumping in a workout. Using nothing but your bodyweight, you can raise your heart rate within seconds and involve almost all of your muscles at the same time. Needless to say, burpees are a sure way to keep the weight off and warm you up this winter.
How to perform Burpees:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides.
- Lower into a squat position and place your hands on the floor.
- Kick or step your legs back into a plank position.
- Jump or step your legs forward to return to a squat position.
- Return to the standing position.
TIP: To increase the difficulty of Burpees, add a jump into the air for each repetition. You can also drop your whole body to the floor (belly to floor) to increase the range, also making this a more challenging exercise.
AVOID: Letting your hips sink in the plank position. Make sure you brace your core throughout the movement.
Try this heart starter for your next workout!
Let’s combine these exercises for a winter fat burning workout
Rounds: Beginner = 3, Intermediate = 5, Advanced = 7+
Repetitions per set: Beginner = 5, Intermediate = 10, Advanced = 15+
Rest between sets: Beginner = 45s, Intermediate = 30s, Advanced = 15s
Rest between rounds: Beginner = 90s, Intermediate = 60s, Advanced = 30s
- Squat Jumps
- Mountain Climbers
- Skater Jumps
- Shoulder Taps
Please note: In the above workout description ‘s’ means seconds.
In summary, winter does not have to be a challenging time for fat burning and there are lots of exercises that you can utilise to get a great workout. The above is just a small sample of hundreds that you could do, but we believe that they should be the most effective. Give them a go and you will make the most of these colder months!
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