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When it comes to fat-blasting exercises, it doesn't get much better than long distance running. How often do you see a distance runner with ample body fat? The reason behind the lean physiques of runners is simple -- running incinerates calories, which is necessary to reduce body fat. To lose 1 pound of fat, you must create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. At more than 700 calories per hour, the average 155-pound person can quickly generate this deficit. But before you lace up your running shoes, review these useful tips to maximize your fat-burning potential.
Mix up your run intensities. If you're on a quest to lose fat, the last thing you want to do is hit a plateau because your body has adapted to a consistent training load. If you're a creature of habit, you may prefer your daily steady-state five milers. But once your body adapts, it will hit the brakes on fat burning and significant changes. Switch it up by integrating speed workouts, intervals and varying distances and paces to help avoid plateaus. Variety will also keep your training more interesting.
Run outside instead of on the treadmill. In general, running outdoors burns about 5 percent more calories than indoor running due to varying inclines, wind resistance and lack of helpful forward momentum a treadmill can create. When you do run indoors, use a 1 percent incline to compensate for these variables.
Perform cross-training exercises a couple days a week in place of running. Running will burn fat, but it's a good idea to cross train with other exercises to give your body a break from the pounding that running creates while developing muscles in ways running can't. Cycling, swimming and elliptical machines are good cross training for cardio. Resistance-training exercises will increase your lean muscle mass -- leading to improved running performance and an increased metabolism.
Adjust your diet with your training. If you're trying to burn fat, you've got to create a calorie deficit. But avoid the urge to create too much of a deficit by reducing your calorie intake while simultaneously putting in big miles. Take your calories too low and you'll end up slowing your metabolism, making it even harder to burn fat. Aim for a daily deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories to shed 1 to 2 pounds per week. If you significantly increase your training volume, you may need to increase your calorie intake. Whatever the case, make sure your activities are adequately fueled and your deficit isn't too big.
- When fat loss is your goal, try not to get too obsessed with the number on the scale. If you're burning fat and building muscle, the scale could actually reflect a gain, even if your jeans are falling down your hips. Track your progress with circumference measurements, body fat tests and progress photos instead. It's also helpful to keep a log of your workouts and daily diet. This way, if you're not seeing the progress you want, you can take a look at what you've been doing and decide what changes to make.