Bodyweight Cardio Fat Burning Workouts

Short Rest Intervals and Supersets Increase Calorie Burning and Fat Loss

Science is proving what some of us in the fitness industry have been practicing for some time now. In simple terms, intensity in a workout makes a big difference on fat loss and calorie burning. Yes it’s true, hard work pays off when it comes to your physique.

If you’ve been training to full capacity, you don’t need a scientific experiment to convince you of this fact because you’ve likely seen the proof in the mirror. Recent scientific studies have proved that working larger muscle groups and resting for shorter durations between sets, increases both energy expenditure and excess post exercise oxygen consumption. This leads to greater fat burning potential and calorie usage.

How Supersets Increase Caloric Expenditure and Fat Burning

We already know that the intensity level of our workout has a huge impact on how many calories we burn. Hardcore workouts promote calorie and fat burning potential. If you think about it, what’s more intense? A set of deadlifts followed immediately by dips, or a set of concentration curls followed by two minutes of texting on the bench? Not only are the concentration curls less intense, they’re also boring. They don’t require anywhere near the same amount of energy as the superset, meaning they burn nowhere near as many calories.

Studies have shown that when compound exercises such as deadlifts, squats, bench press, rows, pull ups etc are paired with another compound or even perhaps an isolation exercise, our energy expenditure and oxygen consumption increase which results in greater excess post exercise oxygen consumption. It is this combination of factors that greatly affect calorie burning potential.

How Shorter Rest Intervals Increase Fat Burning

Whether it’s high intensity interval training, circuit training or strength training with resistance, shortening rest times between sets and exercises can have a huge impact on fat burning.

In a recent study performed by two separate Brazilian universities, decreased rest intervals were shown to have significant effects on energy expenditure, oxygen consumption and EPOC. Rest intervals of 1 and 3 minutes were used on the subjects consisting of 10 healthy men performing both the leg press and chest fly. Both exercises were done for 5 sets of 10 reps with a maximum load of 15 reps. Oxygen uptake was measured at rest, during sets and for the first 90 minutes following the workout. The one-minute rest interval produced higher oxygen uptake and energy expenditure levels than that of the 3-minute rest interval primarily with the leg press. This tells us that large muscle groups, combined with shorter rest intervals offer the most potential for calorie and fat burning both during and following a workout.

Abdominal Fat and Intermittent High Intensity Exercise

The University of New South Wales, Australia, recently published a review stating that high intensity intermittent exercise, (HIIE) may be responsible for improving aerobic and anaerobic fitness, lowering insulin resistance and promoting fat oxidization. Perhaps the most promising of findings is that HIIE also appears to be more effective at reducing abdominal fat over any other type of exercise.

If you consider the intensity of large muscle group supersets, paired with short rest intervals you can certainly imagine how this type of workout falls into the HIIE category. Imagine Bulgarian split squats in combination with explosive push ups or deadlifts paired with push presses. Large muscles groups are called into action, the heart rate dramatically increases and oxygen is limited. All of these factors lead to increased energy expenditure, oxygen debt and EPOC.

Numerous Studies Continue to Prove Theory

A number of experiments have been performed over the years that all seem to suggest a modest to significant increase in EPOC levels, fat oxidization and energy expenditure during and following workouts that combine supersets with short rest intervals.

In addition to the review described above, The University of New South Wales, Australia, also conducted a study on the effects of HIIE training. Over the course of 15 weeks, 45 women were compared after being separated into 3 groups. 15 were prescribed the HIIE program, 15 were given steady state cardiovascular workouts and the remaining 15 were placed in the control group. At the end of the 15 weeks, only the HIIE group showed a reduction in total body fat, abdominal fat and insulin levels. Interestingly enough, there was a significant amount of fat reduction in the abdomen and legs, which is promising considering these are most often trouble spots for women. Another point goes to high intensity resistance training over steady state cardio.

Another experiment performed at the University of Kurdistan, Iran tested the effects of resistance training and varying rest periods on 10 physically fit men. The chosen exercises were squats and bench press performed to failure with an 85% repetition max. Varying rest intervals of 60 seconds, 90 seconds and 120 seconds were sporadically given between the 4 sets of each exercise. Blood draws were done previous to, during and 30 minutes following the workout to measure levels of growth hormone and testosterone. The findings suggested that the shortest rest intervals of 60 seconds elicited the greatest rise in growth hormone. Increased growth hormone levels promote fatty acid oxidization and may maintain the usage of fat for prolonged periods of time following the workout.


bodyweight cardio exercises

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Time and again, we are shown in many ways that intensity and effort count. Hanging out on the bench, staring at the clock for a timed 2 to 3 minutes is ineffective if your goal is to lose fat. You need to be up and at ‘em before your heart rate has come down and your muscles have lost the burn. Increasing the effort and challenging your body is the only way to really burn fat and improve the health of your heart and shape of the muscles. While specific spot reducing may technically be impossible, the closest you’ll get is through training with sheer intensity. Take a break from the typical 8 to 12 reps with 2 minutes rest and put yourself to the test with supersets and short recovery intervals.

The “Braveheart” Bodyweight Program

Oh dear, do I have a solid bodyweight exercise program for you. I’m more excited about the name of it though. There’s a funny story of how I came up with the name “Braveheart”. I’ve had my client Judy now for almost 5 years. She’s in her sixties, but she can run circles around many chicks in their twenties. Is that politically correct to say? I certainly hope not. That’s just how I roll.

Anyway, I see her twice a week and she is up for any challenge. We typically do one strength training workout and one metabolic workout each week, but even that changes. She loves using bodyweight exercises, but she’s not afraid to lift heavy either. We even do supersets of heavy resistance training supersetted with bodyweight exercises, like 6 reps of the reverse grip lat pulldown followed by push-ups. She can do burpees in her sleep. Why would anyone do burpees in their sleep? I don’t know really, so does the above statement now seem kinda’ silly now? Well, sure. But do I care? Well, no. Do I answer my own questions? Absolutely.

Can Bodyweight Exercises and Heavy Resistance Training Improve Daily Activities Like Running? Hhhmmm, Read the Paragraph Under this Really Long Subtitle and Find Out

Judy is a very avid runner. She loves running and that is her “off day” activity. As a matter of fact, she admits that ever since she started using bodyweight moves and lifting heavy, her running has become easier and she runs more efficiently. I’m really proud of her being in such great shape and setting an example for others to follow. Did I mention she is in her sixties? I’m pretty sure I did. Looky there, now I did twice. It just proves that it’s never too late to start.

As Judy and I were finishing one of our sessions, she was laughing at the names of the metabolic finishers I come up with. She then told me it would be cool if I were to come up with a bodyweight exercise routine and named it something different. That’s when I said, “like Braveheart?” She thought it was brilliant. Alas, the “Braveheart” bodyweight exercise routine name was born. And you know what?… you’re going to rock it.

How this Bodyweight Program Works

First of all, brace yourself. This is one is a doozie, doozy, douzie. Spell check, you annoy me. I guess doozy is slang. I suggest you grab your tunes and put on some cool 90’s hip-hop, or the Sanford and Son theme song… whatever motivates you. You’re going to hit the ground running with this program. This is the kind of program where you may find yourself praying in the middle of it. Your heart will be thumping with anger, your veins will present themselves as road maps, and sweat will trickle down as if your body is crying. Nike, do you see this? Call me. Onward to the program…

Although this is a bodyweight program, you will need a few things. You’ll need a chin-up/pull-up bar, stability ball, ab wheel (optional) and some blue face paint (optional as well).

(because you can never take away my freedom…. OK, too much)

Do the following circuit one time, resting only when needed. Form takes precedence! When form starts to break down, you MUST stop and rest. You can break the exercises into smaller “sets”. For example, you could do 5 pull-ups, rest, and then continue in that fashion until you complete 20 reps. But you must complete all reps before moving onto the next exercise. Record the time it takes you to complete the circuit. The next time you perform this circuit, try to beat your previous time. Exercises 8-10 are chaotic. Enjoy… or something like that.

1) Bulgarian Squat Jumps (20 ea leg)
2) Pull-ups (20)
3) Close-Grip Push-ups (40)
4) Ab Wheel or Stability Ball Rollout (25)
5) Jumping Jacks (100)
6) Alternating Prisoner Cross-Over Lunge (25 ea leg)
7) Cross-Body Mountain Climbers (20 ea)
8} Burpee Chin-up Combo (10)
9) Decline Spiderman Push-ups (10 ea side)
10) Burpee Chin-up Combo (10) (Yes, I typed that on purpose)
11) Stability Ball Jackknife (30)
12) Swing Lunge (15 ea)

Good times? No? Awesome.

One quick tip to help you out – don’t train to failure on the exercises. For example, if you’re performing the close-grip push-ups and you typically go to failure at rep 25, just go to 20 reps and then rest for a little bit. You’ll find that it is easier to pace yourself this way.

Now one of the things on my bucket list is when you google “ridiculous bodyweight exercise programs”, this program pops up as number one. It would give me goose bumps.

Bodyweight Exercises are Better than Cardio

You could hop on the treadmill for 6 hours and do some endless cardio, or you can knock this workout out of the ball park and the caloric afterburn would last about 14 years (I may be over-estimating, but trust me, the afterburn will last for a long time). And unlike cardio, bodyweight programs like these will improve your conditioning and sculpt your body. Hours of cardio won’t do that.

Boom goes the bodyweight, improved conditioning, fat-burning dynamite.

You’re going to be sore the next day, no doubt about it. As a matter of fact, if you’re not, you may want to see a doctor or someone from NASA because congratulations, you’re an alien. Aliens are getting more and more popular on TV, too. Seriously, as a recovery strategy, try some light activity the next day like some walking. You can also use a foam roller along with some stretching.

I would only perform this workout once a week. So each week, see how much you can improve your time, while burning belly fat.

metabolic finishers

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Finish Strong,
Mike Whitfield
Certified Turbulence Trainer