No surprise: Running is one of the most effective activities for burning fat. It makes sense that the overall scorch would be greater because running — even if you don’t do it well — involves the careful coordination of the limbs and the engagement of the core to stabilize the hips in stride. Science supports this, with a 2003 study in Great Britain finding that subjects running on a treadmill burned a higher amount of fat than those who trained using a stationary cycle.
Unfortunately, running isn’t for everyone — some have pre-existing conditions that pavement-pounding could exacerbate — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other fat-busting cardio options. Unless you’ve been bugged out at your mountain bunker, you know that short bouts of intense exercise have been shown to increase fat burning, elevate resting metabolism and preserve muscle. Plus, they’re easy to do. By using your own bodyweight and some easy-to-find gear, you can get a fantastic home-based cardio workout, sans treadmill.
This workout requires maximal effort on each exercise but never for more than a minute. For the resistance-based moves, you’ll start with the most demanding exercise — the squat jump — and work your way down to one that’s less challenging for more reps. You’ll alternate these exercises with timed cardio activity, moving from a 30-second segment to 45 seconds, then up to 60 seconds.
The entire circuit, which lasts less than five minutes, should be repeated five times total for maximum effect. You’ll recover with 30 to 60 seconds of rest between circuits. (The hardcore can shorten this, if necessary, to keep hearts and lungs working overtime.)
This workout is proof that you don’t always need a treadmill to burn more fat. Sprinkle it in two to three times a week — either after weight training or on dedicated cardio days — to issue a pre-emptive strike on the coming holiday feasts.
Rest no more than 60 seconds between circuits (optional). Repeat five times total.
Building Block: Add another trip through the circuit each week, or try seeing how many rounds you can complete in 20 minutes.