Make sure your aerobic activity is intense enough to use up the excess calories you take in.

3 exercises that save you time and accelerate fat loss

We’re all looking to streamline our workout. Everyone’s crunched for time these days, and we want to get the biggest bang for our workout buck.

So I’m always looking to see which exercises will let me burn a lot of calories, use a ton of muscles and not cost me a fortune.

With that in mind, I scoured the earth (OK, not really, but I did talk to some qualified fitness experts) to find you 3 high-priority exercises to help you lose weight.

#1. Intervals

Walk into any gym across the country, and you’ll see rows and rows of folks sweating it out on the treadmill. And chances are, if you return to the gym a few months later, you’ll see the same people … looking about the same way.

That’s because aerobic activity, such as walking, running and cycling, can be an effective way to burn calories and shed weight, but most people don’t spend the time needed, nor do they power up intensely enough, to burn off all the food they’re eating each day.

If you really want to rev up your calorie burn and move past your weight-loss plateau, add intervals to your fitness routine.

That’s where you alternate short bursts of intense exertion with short periods of recovery. In other words, you go as hard as you can for a short time, and then at an easy pace for a bit, alternating intense bursts with recovery bursts.

Not only will you burn calories while you’re working out, you’ll also burn calories afterwards.

One 1994 study at Laval University in Quebec, Canada, found high-intensity interval training (HIIT) was 9 times more effective for losing fat than steady-state cardio.1 One reason may be what experts call EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. In other words, the “afterburn effect,” in which the metabolism remains elevated for hours after an intense workout.

We’ve talked about HIIT before, and it’s important to note that there’s no single right or wrong way to do it. Here’s 1 way you can get a challenging interval workout:

  • Begin warming up by walking or biking at a moderate pace for 5 minutes to get the blood pumping throughout your body. If you’re on a treadmill, increase the incline; if you are biking, switch to low gear for more resistance.
  • Next, lower your resistance (drop the treadmill incline to 0 or switch to high gear for easier pedaling) and sprint for a minute, going as hard as you can while running or biking.
  • Back off the pace and recover for 2 to 3 minutes. For your recovery intervals, you want to slow down enough to catch your breath, but keep moving. For even more calorie-torching, try adding 1 set of 10–15 squats during your recovery interval.
  • By the end of your recovery interval, you should be ready for another high-intensity interval. Keep the resistance low and sprint for 30 seconds to 1 minute. To recover, decrease your speed and walk or pedal easily for 1 minute. Then, add in 1 set of 10–15 overhead dumbbell presses during this recovery period.
  • Keep going, alternating high-intensity and recovery intervals for a total of 20 minutes.

#2 Planks

Don't get stuck to the past doing crunches. There is a better way...planks.

You’re probably doing crunch after crunch after crunch to try to get flat abs. But crunches are so ’80s. They only work the muscles on the front and sides of the abdomen and don’t effectively activate the rest of the core muscles.

Planks, on the other hand, provide a 3-dimensional activation of the core to strengthen and stabilize all the muscles in the area. As an added bonus, planks strengthen the shoulders and hips, and help build muscles to stabilize the spine.

And, because planks work more muscles, you’ll burn more calories than you will with crunches.

How to do a plank correctly?

  • Lie on your stomach, resting on your forearms. Place the elbows directly beneath your shoulders. You can opt for open palms or closed fists.
  • Curl your back toes under, engage your core, and lift your body off the ground, so your weight is resting on your elbows and toes.
  • Keeping your abs tight, maintain a straight line from your head to your heels.
  • Hold for 10–15 seconds at first, increasing the hold by 5 seconds each time until you’ve eventually reached a full minute.

For variation, instead of resting on your forearms, push yourself up onto your hands, making sure your hands are placed directly beneath your shoulders.

If you want more of a challenge, lift 1 leg off the ground and hold for 5 seconds, then switch to lift and hold the opposite leg, continuing to make the switch every 5 seconds until you complete your cycle.

#3 Burpees

Um, excuse me? You read that right … burpees. They’re like a combo of squats and push-ups, working every single muscle in the body, from your shoulders to your hamstrings.

And if you do them quickly, you’ll burn a whole lot of calories.

They also boost endurance and require no equipment.

Ready to try?

  • Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Drop to a squat position — while your hips go back and downwards, your hands should reach to the ground in front of you.
  • Transfer the weight into your hands and kick your feet back into a push-up position, then drop your chest to the ground.
  • Push yourself back up to push-up position, then return your feet to the squat position.
  • Jump back up into the air.

If you are just beginning your fitness regimen, start with 5 burpees as a warm-up set before your walk, run or cycle. Finish with another set afterwards. As you shape up, add 1 set of 5 burpees during the recovery phases of your interval training. You eventually will want to work up to 15 burpees as 1 set and include at least 2–3 sets as part of your regular fitness regimen.

As always, before you start any exercise program, especially high-intensity interval training, be sure you get a thumbs up from your doctor.

Personally, my favorite is HIIT. What’s yours?

Steve Sisskind, M.D.

Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.

As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.

Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?

I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.

I invite you to connect with me by joining my free private community. I've helped thousands of people and I know I can help you too!

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1. Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism. 1994;43(7):814-818. PMID: 8028502.

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  1. I have been on your pragramme now for two weeks, I do everything I am suppose to do and extra but have not lost an ounce, what is going on, is this a waste of money?

  2. I have been on this programme for two weeks now, I walk for 6km three times aweek I take my pills and my shakes every day but I have not lost a single ounce , what is going on, is it na waist of money.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Bill,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your experience with us! I understand your frustration and wanted to let you know that you are not alone in your difficulties. RealDose Weight Loss Formula NO.1 works by helping your body get your problem hormones back to their normal levels. It often takes time for these kinds of changes to happen, which is why we ask for your patience and perseverance. That said, two weeks is still quite early for you to see any tangible results but I do ask that you stick to your healthy diet and active lifestyle. The reason being, as the product works via the hormonal system, it does take time for results to show. I do encourage you to not give and if you feel that you need extra support, we have our Healthy Life Program to give you coaching and guidance! If you’d like more information about the program, you can visit the Healthy Life Program page at the link below:

      Again, I thank you for writing in, Bill and hope you continue with your journey with us! Have a healthy day!

  3. Although only 62 I am 60 pounds overweight due to years of degenerative arthritis and multiple surgeries. Per the doctor am not to do more than two hours of weight bearing on my ankles and feet-broken three times and missing half their cartilage. I have had a right knee replacement two years ago and left hip replacement many years ago and per a recent MRI am losing the cartilage in my right shoulder. I need short as in five minute intervals of cardio with maybe stretching before and after. Then I would like to work up to doing this interval or varying ones three times a day in my home. I am often house bound. I do get out to LA Fitness for water aerobics or Silver Sneakers a couple times a week but find them so exhausting and aching that it wipes me out for the rest of the day. An hour class is too long. And , it is not daily. I want to build daily home bound into my diet routine. I am not losing weight. I also have fibromyalgia. But I am a disabled LCSW of 25 years so I do know the cognitive importance of all this. I am going to die of inactivity and obesity if I don’t do more. Thank you.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Sharon,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your story with us! While I am deeply saddened to learn of your many challenges, I do admire the tenacity and commitment you have in meeting them head on. I know it is never easy to adhere to any exercise regimen when you are battling chronic pain but it is all the more important that you do so in order to maintain your range of motions. Reading through your story, I can see that you are already doing everything perfectly. However, I do ask that you not lose patience and continue your healthy diet and exercise regimen. A gentle exercise comes highly recommended as it will not only stretch and tone your muscle groups but slowly restore the resilience of your joints and limbs. Lastly, only do the exercises you are comfortable of doing and always under the guidance of your doctor or therapist. I shall be praying for your good health, Sharon! Make it a healthy day!

    • I have used REALDOSE for a month & followed all the advise & exercised, but, unfortunately, have not lost a single pound.

  4. Hi Dr Steve, While watching Dr Steve emails they are always so positive and helpful. I can exercise while I’m sitting in front of the computer. l. 50 scissors, straight leg s though floating in water and swishing my feet up and down, like a fish. 2. 50 leg movements, lifting up straight, going back and forth from side to side, hitting my feet slightly not to hurt them. 3. Arm twirls, as though I am fling like a bird with wings in the air, frontwards and backwards, 50 times. 4. Muscle crunches in arms. Pretend you have weights, lifting up and down from side of chest up and down 50 tines, Then, in front of chest and lifting above the head as though you were super man. 5. Hand exercises. Pretend your clutching a jar of peanut butter and opening it up very hard. Open and close 25 times. 6. More finger exercises. Locking thumb with other thumb, hold for 5 seconds, then do the same with index finger to other index finger, etc. 7. Squeezing each finger, One hand grabs each finger for 5 seconds tightly. Then use other finger to follow suit. 8. Neck turns. Hold yourself up straight, do 35 turns to each side, as though saying no to junk food, while eyes are looking at each side of the room. Another 35 , neck turns lifting head up and down as though saying yes to healthy foods. 9. Eye strain, opening and closing eyes 100 times as though your a butterfly. 10. Then put some fun music on and dance around the room. Thanks Dr Steve, Esther

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Esther,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your exercises with us! It is always a pleasure to hear from you and I am grateful that you have shared your exercise routine with us. Hopefully, it will also inspire others to do the same despite their physical limitations or age. I have read through your routine and found that though very simple, are actually quite effective in ensuring you maintain your range of motions. I do look forward to hearing more of your great ideas and do hope they help our other readers! Make it a healthy day, Esther!

  5. Because of knee and neck issues I am not able to do burped, substitutions?

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Sara,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! I always recommend that you start off with a routine you are comfortable of doing and then slowly work your resistance up. If you are unable to do burpees, then maybe other exercises such as Tai Chi, Swimming or Yoga can help you not just burn calories but also improve your range of motions. However, if your condition is severe and brings you discomfort even when at rest, then it would be best that you consult with your personal doctor about an exercises regimen suited to you. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

  6. planks and burpees really??? at 70+ years

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Diane,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! It is always best that you start with an exercise you are comfortable at starting and then improve over time. If you are sedentary (or have been inactive for several months) and just beginning an exercise regimen, you should start with continuous aerobic exercise at a low-intensity level. Once you are able to run or cycle for 30 consecutive minutes at a moderate intensity, then consider progressing slowly to include a more intense workout as part of your exercise regimen. Of course, you should always check with your doctor to get the thumbs up before starting any exercise program. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

  7. Have had stroke, and have been trying to get back my pre-stroke weight, from 280 to a relaxing 195. Help please, Jim

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Jim,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! I completely understand the urgency of your concern but do encourage you to first speak with your personal doctor before getting started on any fitness plan. The reason being, while those who have recently suffered a stroke are encouraged change adapt a healthy diet and lifestyle, they will need special care and close supervision by trained healthcare professionals. Your health is of the utmost importance and while we are eager to help, we also want you to progress steadily in your progress without putting you under unnecessary risk. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

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