Question: What exercises and intensity levels will help me burn more fat when I exercise? Do I have to exercise for a certain amount of time before my body will dip into its fat reserves?
Answer: There are no specific exercises that are best for everyone, but the following information should be helpful. While working out with weights try to minimize your use of machines that let you sit or that guide you through the movement. Instead, try to do more exercises that use several muscle groups and challenge you to stand or balance. This can increase the number of calories you burn for any given exercise. Keep moving, with minimal rest between exercises. The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) often uses a method called vertical loading to keep one moving during a workout. In vertical loading, the exerciser will work the entire body or several muscle groups in one workout. Once you’ve completed a set of exercises you quickly move on to the next. This is repeated until all body parts or exercises in the workout are done, similar to circuit training. While one muscle group recovers, you can be doing a different body part, rather than sitting around doing nothing. This makes better use of your time and keeps your calorie burn high. Another way to burn more calories during a workout is to create movements that work several body parts at one time. Instead of doing a leg press, try a cable squat with a row, or a more advanced option like a lunge with a dumbbell curl and press.
As for dipping into fat reserves, don’t get too hung up on this. Know that if you are eating fewer calories than you burn, the missing calories are supplied from your body fat stores eventually, regardless of whether exercise is part of the program. In other words, whatever calories you burn daily that are not replaced will come primarily from your fat stores. With this thought in mind, anything you can do to increase the number of calories you burn will increase fat loss.
Lastly, when doing your cardio exercise, you will burn more calories at a higher intensity per unit of time than at a lower intensity. Try to increase the intensity, time, or number of days of cardio or change the type you do on a regular basis. These changes can all work to maximize your calorie burning and keep you progressing toward your goals.