Conventional wisdom says you have to run, cycle, elliptical, or do some other highly aerobic activity if your aim is to burn calories and lose weight. So here’s some great news for anyone who dreads those long slogs: Conventional wisdom isn’t always so wise. While cardio sessions do burn calories (and of course have great benefits for your heart and lungs), they don’t do much to boost your metabolism over the long haul—you basically burn only the finite number of calories during your time on the road or machine. With a smartly designed weight-training circuit, however, you’ll set yourself up for some massive fat-melting “afterburn,” while elevating your heart rate, building muscle, and (most definitely) breaking a sweat.
“When you want to get lean, the goal isn’t simply to lose weight—it’s to lose body fat and not muscle,” says Mike Matthews, C.P.T., author of Bigger, Leaner, Stronger. His 45-minute ultimate fat-torching workout is like two sessions in one: a heavy-weight set combined with a higher rep/shorter rest set.
“The heavy compound lifting burns quite a bit of calories both during and after the workout, and spikes your heart rate,” he says, “It’s like a weightlifting version of HIIT—people that haven’t tried it before are usually surprised at how freaking hard it is to do heavy squatting and deadlifting back to back.” It’s topped off with a lighter, faster set that burns more calories and creates even more metabolic stress. For this workout, you’ll need to know your one-rep max for the deadlift, barbell overhead press, and squat.