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5 Exercise Secrets to Jumpstart Your Weight Loss

Trainer Donovan Green shares his tricks for calorie-burning success.

Medically reviewed in March 2021

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You're exercising at least a few times per week, but the scale numbers just aren’t budging. Sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone. Luckily celebrity personal trainer Donovan Green is here to help. Click through for his exercise secrets that can help you burn more calories, break out of a weight-loss plateau and get more out of your workouts.

Before starting any of these workouts, talk with your healthcare provider (HCP) to be sure these are safe for you.

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Start strength training

Regularly lifting weights is important for building strong bones and muscle while you burn fat. But make sure your weights are heavy enough, says Green. Once you can easily do 12 reps, gradually increase the weight load. It should feel slightly challenging while being able to maintain good form. If you feel pain or start to lose your form, stop and go back to a lighter weight. And don't forget to work your lower body. "When you work your legs, you force them to work with external resistance, and will burn way more calories than running on a treadmill or doing the elliptical," says Green.

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Incorporate interval training

Interval training, or short bursts of intense exercise between active recovery, is one of the best ways to work out. "You keep your heart rate up, your smiles up and your muscles guessing," says Green. Plus, the anaerobic activity (the more intense intervals) increases your overall calorie burn, since you’re mixing in periods where you’re burning calories faster. Another bonus: Interval workouts create an “afterburn” (called EPOC) effect, meaning you burn more calories even after you're done.

For starters, walk for 2 minutes, jog for 30 seconds and repeat. As you progress, try this: Walk for 60 seconds, jog for 60 seconds, sprint for 60 seconds, do sit-ups for 60 seconds and repeat.

However, for those with heart disease, an influx of high-intensity exercise may increase the risk of heart attack, says a 2014 study published in Heart. Chat with your HCP before you try an interval workout.

 

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Stop constantly checking your phone

You may need your phone to play motivational music or to stream a workout—and that’s okay. But constantly looking down to check Instagram in between repetitions is not. Use your workout time to focus on what you set out to do—burn calories and tone up. "It's your moment, so you need to be able to look and generate energy towards yourself." says Green. If you’re distracted by a book or social media, you probably won’t push yourself as hard, and as Green says, intensity is the name of the game.

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Fuel up before and after

What you eat before and after your workout can maximize your calorie burn and keep your energy levels up. Green tells his clients to fuel up with a healthy, not-too-sweet snack beforehand, like a banana or a bowl of oatmeal (but not instant—it can have too much sugar). Afterward, replenish protein and carbs with a smoothie or low-fat chocolate milk. And consider your type of workout, too: If you’re headed for an intense cardio session, you may need to eat more carbs than the days you’re practicing yoga.

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Keep moving all day

Even if you had an early morning Zumba class or an awesome session with your trainer, your body won't get enough energy burn if you’re staying parked at your desk the rest of the day, Green says. Aim for 10,000 steps each day, and move around every hour. "Set a timer so you get up and move every hour, even for a minute. Stretch, kick your legs, punch or tighten up your abs," says Green. If you’re a parent without much gym time, think of your child as your personal trainer. "Your kids keep you active," says Green. "Play with your kids every day and you'll be doing squats, sit-ups and arm curls." 

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