5 Exercise Hacks to Jumpstart Your Weight Loss

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

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You’re a regular at the gym, but the scale numbers just aren’t budging. Sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone. Luckily Donovan Green, personal trainer to Dr. Oz 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.

Medically reviewed in September 2019.

Hack #1: Hoist some weights

2 / 6 Hack #1: Hoist some weights

Regularly lifting weights is the ticket 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. You should feel a challenge but still be 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.

Hack #2: Incorporate interval training

3 / 6 Hack #2: 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) ups 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. 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.

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. Repeat.

Hack #3: Ditch the books—and your phone

4 / 6 Hack #3: Ditch the books—and your phone

Your cell phone may double as your iPod, and that’s okay—but constantly looking down to check Instagram in between repetitions is not. Use your time at the gym 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.

Hack #4: Fuel up before and after

5 / 6 Hack #4: 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. 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.

Hack #5: Keep moving all day

6 / 6 Hack #5: 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." Track your daily steps, with Sharecare, a free app for iOS and Android.

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