How to burn an extra 500-1000 calories per day without cardio

Personal Trainer (Addison TX) Paul Williamson teaches you how to burn fat more efficiently!

I want to start by saying I’m not against doing cardio, because it does of course have plenty of benefits. That being said, it just isn’t the most efficient way to burn fat.

In business, you can either trade your time for money or you can create passive revenue streams that keep paying you whether you’re on the clock or not. The exact same principle applies to burning calories. Cardio is essentially the equivalent of getting paid for your time and starting over at the end of each day. Building muscle, however, is the best passive revenue stream available for burning body fat. Did you know that every pound of muscle tissue burns an average of 50 calories per day, regardless of physical activity? Yep, even if you sit on the couch all day (but please don’t!).

Crank Up Your Metabolism

Muscle isn’t the only factor when it comes to your metabolism, but it’s easily the one that you can reliably assert the most control over. Building muscle cranks up the dial on your metabolic thermostat so you can become a fat burning machine, even on your off days. Let’s say you do a cardio session every day for an hour and burn 500 calories. If you were to build 10 pounds of muscle, you would burn about 500 additional calories every single day without that cardio session (and of course even more if you still did the cardio). Not to mention, if you didn’t do the hour of cardio, you would have still burned some calories. If you would have burned 80 calories even if you skipped the cardio, then the net benefit is really only 420 calories and comes up short of the 10 pounds of muscle.

If you want to take it even further, you could work to put on 20 pounds of muscle and add 1000 calories / day to your metabolism instead! These may sound like astronomical numbers, but 5lbs of muscle is far more compact than 5lbs of fat. Five pounds of muscle is about the size of a fist (see picture above), so adding as little as 10 pounds of muscle spread throughout your whole body is not going to suddenly make you bulky if that’s not what you’re going for.

Kill Two Birds With One Stone

Let’s say you want to build muscle, but you also want to keep doing cardio for other health reasons (heart & lung health, stress relief, etc.), but you don’t have time to fit in both cardio and strength training to build muscle. One possible solution is to do circuit style strength training so that you can build muscle while keeping your heart rate up at the same time, thus covering both bases in half the time. If you’re not familiar with the idea of circuit training, it’s basically just performing your resistance exercises in a rotation so that you perform one round of multiple exercises before returning again to the first exercise – this allows you to keep moving rather than just waiting between sets until you’re ready to perform the same exercise again. There are of course other advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, but that’s a subject for another post.

Whether your direct goal is to gain muscle or not, never forget the importance of muscle in regulating your metabolism. If you want to optimize your fat-burning and get leaner, stop ignoring resistance training to fit in more cardio.

Why Most People Dread Exercise (and the Simple Solution)

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Most people treat exercise like it’s a battle of wills with the goal of the mind conquering the body. This approach is harmful to both your body and your mind because it ensures that half of you will lose regardless of which side wins the battle – and in a battle between allies, even the winner loses in the end. With this attitude, it’s no wonder that people tend to dread exercise!

Always remember that your body and mind are on the same team, so the goal is to work with the body, not against it.

When we think of exercise as imposing our will upon our bodies, we tend to be far too aggressive in our methods. The way most people exercise could be seen as a brutal assault on the body, whereas the healthy approach to exercise revolves around stimulation, not destruction. Nobody wants to be miserable and exhausted (unless you’re a masochist), but we’re taught to think of exercise as punishment, so we just assume that this is something we have to put up with if we want to be fit. Not only do you not have to put up with this, but if you do put up with it then you will likely do more harm than good.

What about no pain no gain?

This single phrase has done more damage than just about anything else in the fitness field. Ever notice that in Eastern cultures, exercise is light, stimulating, and enjoyable – and the people in these cultures actually enjoy partaking in these practices and tend to be much healthier? Here, where our motto is no pain, no gain, most of us hate exercise and our society is incredibly overweight and unhealthy. It isn’t a coincidence that less of us exercise here, given that our ways of exercising simply don’t feel good.

Eastern exercise is energizing and relaxing, while Western exercise is miserable and exhausting. Heck, just look at how we each refer to our exercise sessions: In the East it’s called a practice, and in the West it’s called a workout. Sounds appealing right? Ok, maybe not… Think of it like this – stimulating exercise is like spending some time outside on a regular basis; you’ll end up with a healthy tan, lots of Vitamin D, and the best anti-depressant that money can’t buy. Aggressive exercise, however, is more like locking yourself in a tanning bed for an hour at a time. Sure, you might end up getting darker, but you’ll also end up with painful burns (i.e. muscle soreness), a higher risk of skin cancer (injury), and an all-around negative experience that requires significant recovery time and won’t exactly encourage you to make it a habit.

It’s not about what you do, it’s about how you do it

Here’s the twist… Switching to yoga won’t magically solve this problem. More often than not, we end up bringing our Western mindset into yoga and turning that into work too. Yoga is fantastic for many reasons (beyond just fitness), but this problem has nothing to do with the type of exercise you engage in. While the spirit behind yoga is intended to be light, fluid, effortless, and meditative movement, many yoga practitioners here tend to go through the motions in a forceful, rigid way, thus making it little more than a workout that happens to involve yoga poses.

Regardless of the form of exercise you choose, the same principles apply when it comes to getting the most of that practice and doing it in a way that actually feels good and brings you back again and again…

1. Breathe

The first thing people do when they push too hard is change (or stop) their breathing. Rule #1 for exercising in a stimulating (not destructive) way is to always breathe calmly. It’s not enough to just not hold your breath – your breathing should never be forceful either, even if you are winded. Labored, forceful breathing is a clear sign that you are straining, and strain leads to tension. After all, we want to release tension, not create it!

Rule of thumb: The easiest way to monitor your breathing is to simply breathe quietly. There are exceptions to every rule, but if you can’t help but pant vigorously, you’re probably pushing too hard.

2. Stay Loose

Modern exercise is traditionally taught in such a way that the appearance of “good form” is emphasized over how it actually feels. When your goal is more about how an exercise looks than how it feels, you will almost never be able to move in a loose and light way. This is yet another form of straining and creating unnecessary tension. Lightly maintain the best posture you can without becoming tense, and trust your body to move naturally from there. Keep it simple – the more details you try to control, the less natural it will be. Little kids tend to enjoy being active more than adults because they don’t take it too seriously and haven’t forgotten how to play!

Rule of thumb: If your face becomes tense, then it’s a good bet that your body is too. Keep your face relaxed (it’s even okay to smile from time to time!), shake out any tension from your arms and legs, and move like you’re playing!

3. Listen to Your Body

This is where we come full circle back to the notion of not turning exercise into a battle between the mind and body. Your body knows what it wants, so why not listen? When you push through warning signs like pain, you are ignoring your instincts, creating an internal battle with yourself, and forcing your body to protect itself (from you!) by tensing up.

Limited flexibility is not a matter of your body not being able to move beyond those limits, it’s a matter of your body not trusting you to move outside of those limits without causing harm. Just like with another person, that trust is regained over time if you improve the way you’re treating your body. Luckily, the language your body speaks is much easier to learn than English. Here are a few common translations… Pain -> Stop. Ease -> Continue. Strain -> Stop. Relaxation -> Continue. Exhaustion -> Stop. Invigoration -> Continue.

Rule of thumb: This one is easy… If it doesn’t feel good, stop.

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