One of the the things I hear over and over again from my patients is how hard it can be to find time for exercise. Let me tell you, I get it! As a physician with a family who also happens to be an Ironman triathlete—an experience I talk about here—I’m painfully aware of how tough it can be to squeeze in a workout.
My strategy? Instead of wasting precious time on inefficient exercise, I focus on moves and fitness routines that I know will help me reach optimal health. Here are three highly effective fat-burning workouts for men.
High intensity interval training (HIIT)
Sometimes called speed interval training, HIIT involves alternating between bursts where you go as hard as you can and short periods of rest. This type of intense exercise burns more fat and calories than typical aerobic workouts, and has been shown to boost your metabolism for up to 48 hours afterward. In addition to effectively burning fat, HIIT may help keep you young—a recent study found this type of vigorous exercise may stop or even reverse the age-related decline in the cellular health of your muscles.
Because you’re giving 100% during active intervals, you don’t need to spend hours at the gym to see results. Most HIIT workouts can be completed in under 30 minutes! And because HIIT doesn’t require any special equipment, it can be done anywhere, any time—even in a hotel room while traveling.
As the official CrossFit website explains, “While CrossFit challenges the world’s fittest, the program is designed for universal scalability, making it the perfect application for any committed individual, regardless of experience. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change the program. The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree, not kind.”
I love this theory, but I do find people get caught up in the competitive nature of Xfit and push themselves harder than they should, risking injury. So be sensible, learn the proper techniques of each exercise before doing it, and only compete against yourself. While you’re at it, see my post here to learn about which supplements you can take to maximize your CrossFit performance.
Orangetheory is a science-backed, technology-tracked, coach-inspired group workout designed to produce results from the inside out (how’s that for a mouthful?). During the one-hour Orangetheory class, professional coaches guide you and tailor the workout to meet your individual needs. The workout changes every day, allowing you to continuously challenge your body (and avoid boredom).
Group exercise definitely keeps people motivated. Orangetheory is great for guidance and enforcing accountability; I know it is popular among my patients.
Remember, the most effective workout is the one you’ll actually do. Hate running? Don’t try forcing yourself to do it, because you won’t. If you choose something you actually enjoy, you’re much more likely to stick with it. Can’t seem to get yourself to the gym? Make plans to meet a friend there. It’s harder to blow off a workout when it means blowing off a buddy in the process.
Another excellent way to meet your fitness goals is to set and declare a clear intention. In one study that measured how often people exercised over two weeks, researchers randomly divided 248 people into three groups. In the control group, participants were asked to keep track of how often they exercised and instructed to read a few paragraphs of a novel. In addition to being asked to track exercise, the second group read a pamphlet on the benefits of exercise for reducing heart disease and heard a motivational speech. The third group did everything that the second group did, but were also asked to come up with a plan explicitly stating where and when they intended to exercise.
At the end of the two-week study period, only 38% of people in the control group and 35% of the second group exercised at least once a week. What happened to the third group, where participants wrote down exactly what they planned to do? A whopping 91% of this group exercised at least once a week (more than doubling their odds)! See my post here for more on the importance of purpose.
Wondering what others areas of your health could use your attention? Consider taking my Optimal Men’s Health quiz. It’s designed to help you determine your next best step to getting healthier and closer to winning.
Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.