The Workout That Burns Twice As Many Calories As Running

Dec 12 / Build Muscle

With readouts on cardio machines and fitness trackers, counting calorie expenditure has become part of the human condition. And until recently, the conventional wisdom was that cardiovascular exercise like running (a person of average size will burn about 10 calories per minute at a 10-minute-per-mile pace) was superior to strength training when it came to burning calories.

But a recent study from North Dakota State University that tracked both aerobic and anaerobic energy expenditure has totally flipped the script on that thinking.

Researchers revealed that participants crushed 346 calories on average in just 13 minutes using these six strength exercises: bench press, bent-over row, biceps curl, lying triceps extension, leg extension, and lying leg curl.

That’s over 26 calories per minute! I was so excited by these results, that I used this very study to construct a workout in my new metabolic training system from Men’s Health—musclemorphosis.com. The workout will drive your metabolic rate through the roof and incinerate belly fat like never before.

It’s critical to point out that during the study, each move was performed with a specific high-intensity interval training protocol: 30 seconds of work followed by just 15 seconds of rest. They did three rounds of this 30-on, 15-off interval and then moved on to the next exercise.

And surprisingly, the loads used weren’t even that heavy at just 50 percent of the subjects’ one-rep maximums. With a load like that, you could typically complete 20-plus reps within a single set.

There’s no denying that the phenomenal fat-frying power of this routine comes from the strategic fusion of high-intensity 30-second work periods with the short, incomplete 15-second rest periods.

The 30-second work periods deplete muscle glycogen, the sugar stored in your muscles. This puts your body in an enhanced fat-burning state during the short rest periods and in the recovery period between your workouts.

(As a side note, this same 2:1 work-to-rest ratio is found in the world famous Tabata study that showed greater improvements in fitness and fat loss with just 4 minutes of 20-10 intervals compared to 60 minutes of long, slow, boring, cardio. But I digress.)

Plus, by doing three rounds of the 30-15 interval for each move before moving on to the next move—gym rats call these straight sets—it allows a lighter load to go a longer way. By the time you get to your third and final round, that 50 percent load feels like 100 percent to your quivering muscles.

In this way, your fast-twitch type II muscle fibers—the ones with the greatest growth potential—can actually be more easily recruited at lighter loads than typically required. And using lighter loads is easier on the joints and allows for cleaner, crisper repetitions and faster recovery between sessions.

As if this wasn’t already good news, I’ve got something even better for you: I’ve created a new and improved version of this routine to light your fat cells up like a Christmas tree.

The best way I can describe it is a metabolic apocalypse. And I call it… that’s right, you guessed it: the MetApocalypse. It’s one of the 8 workouts in the new musclemorphosis.com fitness program from Men’s Health.

Here’s how it works:

I’ve created a lower-body and upper-body version of this workout. I prefer an upper/lower split to a total-body split for maximum fat loss and muscle gain.

Do the lower-body workout on one day and the upper-body workout on the next day. Then rest a day or perform lower-intensity recovery work like cardio or mobility.

Do each routine twice per week for four total sessions per week.

If you prefer total-body workouts, then perform 1 to 2 cycles of each workout within the same training session. Perform two to three sessions per week with at least a day of rest between workouts.

You’ll notice I break down each exercise into a main movement category and then provide a sample exercise. Feel free to use the exact exercises I’ve provided or swap in your favorites that fit the format.

For example, you can swap in a chest press for a pushup since they are similar movement patterns and work similar muscles groups. Or if you have knee issues or prefer to work your hips and hamstrings more, swap in swings for squats. You get my drift—just make it work for you!

Lower-Body MetApocalypse Workout

Perform the first exercise for 30 seconds. Rest 15 seconds.

That’s 1 set. Do 3. Repeat with exercises 2 through 6, taking no more than a minute between exercises.

  1. Single-leg hip thrust, right
  2. Single-leg hip thrust, left
  3. Bulgarian split squat, left
  4. Bulgarian split squat, right
  5. Double dumbbell front squat
  6. Box squat jump

That’s 1 cycle. Perform up to 3 total cycles, resting 1 to 2 minutes between cycles.

Use loads or exercise variations that challenge you in an 8 to 15 rep range. If you’re getting less than 8 reps on each set, bump the loads down or use an easier exercise variation. If you’re getting more than 15 reps on each set, bump the loads up or use a more advanced exercise variation.
 
Where applicable, you can also play around with “isometric intensifiers” during the 15-second rest periods. For example, hold the top of the hip thrust variations or the bottom of the squat variations.

Another bonus challenge, AKA “MetaBoost:” Add a miniband around your knees to make your hips work harder and improve your form.

Upper-Body MetApocalypse Workout

Perform the first exercise for 30 seconds. Rest 15 seconds.

That’s 1 set. Do 3. Repeat with exercises 2 through 6, taking no more than a minute between exercises.

  1. Dumbbell bent-over row
  2. Dumbbell floor press
  3. Modified dumbbell upright row
  4. Dumbbell overhead press
  5. Dumbbell twisting biceps curl
  6. Dumbbell lying twisting triceps extension

That’s 1 cycle. Perform up to 3 total cycles, resting 1 to 2 minutes between cycles.

Use loads or exercise variations that challenge you in an 8 to 15 rep range. If you’re getting less than 8 reps on each set, bump the loads down or use an easier exercise variation. If you’re getting more than 15 reps on each set, bump the loads up or use a more advanced exercise variation.

Where applicable, you can also play around with “isometric intensifiers” during the 15-second rest periods. For example, hold the top of the bent-over row, the bottom of the floor press with your arms hovering just above the ground, or a biceps curls with your elbows bent at 90 degrees.

Another bonus challenge, AKA “MetaBoost:” Add musclemorphosis.com to your dumbbells to improve arm activation and strengthen your grip.

This is just a tiny taste of my latest workout DVD with Men’s Health, musclemorphosis.com, the most metabolic program I’ve ever created!