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Often when someone is inspired to lose weight, they decide to start doing more at-home cardio workouts. When someone’s inspired to do more at-home cardio workouts, they usually buy a piece of expensive workout equipment. And when they get tired of the expensive workout equipment, it ends up serving mostly as a clothing rack.
Truth is, nothing’s more frustrating than trying to drop pounds on a stationary bike or treadmill. Plodding away for hours on end can feel soul-deadening. (That’s why stationary bikes and treadmills are so plentiful on Craigslist.)
So why are treadmills so often the first resort for weight loss? Lots of trainers encourage people to think of cardio and weight loss in terms of calories in and calories out. There’s an undeniable logic to it: Burn more calories than you take in, and you’ll theoretically start to lose weight.
But the calories-in, calories-out approach is also fairly simplistic. Yes, you need a calorie deficit to lose weight. But you also need to increase your basal metabolism, while developing some fat-burning lean mass along the way. Therefore, if you want to burn fat at home, then you need to work on your cardio and build muscle. And this is the circuit workout to do it.
Instead of doing interval sprints on the driveway (which has a place in an at-home workout program!), we’re going to take an approach that requires limited space and equipment. This high-intensity cardio workout requires only a six-by-six foot area and no equipment.
This at-home cardio workout is designed as a circuit. In each round, we’ll perform seven exercises consecutively without stopping, alternating between pushing and pulling exercises or upper- and lower-body exercises. By changing up our focus on different muscle groups, you can keep moving and working hard, maximizing your cardio benefit and creating some lean mass to help promote weight loss along the way.
For a true cardio benefit, rest as little as possible between each exercise. The first time you do this workout, rest one minute between each round of the circuit. As you do it more often, time yourself and see if you can go faster.
Pete Williams is a NASM-certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.
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