I have nothing against exercise. As an ex-Ironman triathlete, ex-bodybuilder and current Spartan athlete, I probably exercise more than most people I know. But lots of my friends – and perhaps you – don’t quite get overjoyed to just step out the door or into the gym to sweat, huff and puff.
Or maybe you actually do dig exercising, but you want to get as much bang for your calorie-burning buck as possible when you’re not exercising – a concept popular fitness culture now fondly calls “boosting your metabolism”.
The cool thing is that you don’t have to spend hours pumping iron at the gym or in your dark basement on the treadmill to lose weight. Instead, here are five unconventional ways you can burn more fat – without exercising.
Ready? Let’s jump in…
#1. Use the “Pomodoro” technique.
Pomodoro was some efficiency expert – probably Italian, I’m guessing – who came up with this nice rule that you should stop and do something else for 5 minutes for every 25 minutes that you’re sitting around. Sounds pretty brilliant to me (and you can visit “Pomodoro” on Wikipedia to get his full story).
So the idea is that instead of doing a long workout at the gym, you simply spread your exercises throughout the day by stopping every 25 minutes to do something active. For example, I have a pull-up bar installed above the door of my office. Every time I walk under that bar, I have a rule that I have to do 5 pull-ups. And when I’m working, I stop every 25 minutes to do those 5 pull-ups (and for added boost, I throw in 30 jumping jacks too).
Other examples of this technique include:
• Doing 20 body weight squats every time you get up to go to the bathroom
• Do 100 jumping jacks for every 25 minutes that you’re sitting at your desk
• Do 10-20 push-ups during every commercial break of a television program or every 25 minutes during a movie
#2. Stand More
You’ve no doubt heard that sitting is the new smoking, and that it doesn’t matter how much you exercise at the end of the day if you spend all day long with your butt planted in a chair (or even 2 hours for any given period of time).
So what are some easy ways that you can stand more?
- Stand when you’re waiting, such as at a doctor’s office or the DMV.
- Stand when you’re working. You can create a standing workstation with a tall cupboard, or with standing built-for-you desks like UpDesk, Focal Upright and Varidesk. You can even get a TrekDesk – which is a treadmill disk.
- Stand while you’re flying. When I’m on an airplane, I’ll often read, listen to music, and watch programs on my phone or eReader while standing in the back of the plane (yes, I’m that guy blocking your way to the bathroom).
- Stand while talking on the phone. When you talk on the phone, try to stand up, pace the room, or even stretch. I often head outside and do long walks when I know I’ve got a long phone call, such as talking to my Grandma, who seems to have no concept of time whatsoever.
#3. Cold Thermogenesis
When you get cold, or ingest something cold (like ice water), your body must temporarily increase the rate at which you burn calories in order to keep you warm or to warm whatever cold substance that you ingested. Your body also has a special kind of fat tissue called Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT), which burns calories to generate heat instead of generating ATP.
So I personally wear something called a Cool Fat Burner vest when I’m working on my computer at home, and typically jump start that cold fat burning process with a 5-minute cold shower each morning. On cooler spring and fall days, I go outside each morning to do a goose bump-packed stretch routine on my cold patio.
#4. Pack On The Pounds
At many sporting goods stores or online, you can find ankle and wrist weights that you can wear, and many of these can be worn under long sleeves or pants while you’re at work or moving around your house during the day. You can also get weight vests that increase your weight by 5, 10, or 20 pounds (I actually do walks to the library and around the neighborhood with my kids while wearing a 50 pound weighted vest).
Anytime you’re forcing your body or limbs to move against an extra weight, it results in increased calorie burning and muscle stimulation. Once you own these kind of weights, you’d be surprised at how many ways you can think to use them, such as when grocery shopping, working in the yard, on a walk, or even while doing the laundry.
#5. Breathe Harder
Shallow breathing reduces the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, which reduces the amount of oxygen available to cells throughout your body. As a result, when you have poor breathing patterns, you not only feel more sluggish and fatigued, but you also limit your metabolism, since your cells use some of that oxygen to burn fat (through a process called aerobic metabolism).
So what can you do to breathe better? It starts as simple as this:
- Breathe in through your nose, slowly and deeply while expanding your stomach. Try to take 4 seconds to count in.
- Hold that breath for a count of four. Try to “hold” without actually tightening up all your muscles. It’s a relaxed hold!
- Next, breathe out through slightly pursed lips, fully emptying your lungs, also to the count of four.
A few times a day, slow yourself down and practice this focused breathing. It will soon become second nature. I’ve personally found that it can also help teach better breathing to throw in a few yoga classes into the mix, or use a yoga DVD, podcast, or video. I have a ton of breathing tips in this “How To Breathe The Right Way” article, which I’d recommend you read if you really want to become a better breather.
Just imagine. You stand all day long, you stop every 25 minutes to do something physical, you keep yourself cold when you can, you get yourself a weighted vest, and you make sure you keep your body well oxygenated.
And you start skipping the gym every now and again. It’s the little things that make a difference, and these five unconventional ways to burn more fat will add up fast!