If you want to lose weight and improve your metabolic health, one of the most important things you can do is find a sustainable diet and exercise plan that you can stick to. Quick fixes such as crash diets can disturb hormones and thyroid function in women.
In order to maintain a healthy metabolism, you should focus on making effective, sustainable changes over time. One of these changes can include implementing metabolic training exercises into your exercise routine.
In this article, we’ll share some of the best metabolic exercises for women, a workout plan to follow, and some additional tips for supporting healthy hormone function.
A Quick Recap on Your Metabolism
As we discussed in our article on metabolic age, your metabolism is made up of every chemical reaction your body carries out to keep you alive. Your metabolic rate, or total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), is the measure of how much energy your body uses while carrying out daily activities.TDEE can be broken down into three categories:
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Your basal metabolic rate can be affected by factors like age, weight, gender, and genetics and. BMR includes all life-sustaining functions such as breathing and circulating blood.
Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)
TEF is the energy used by your body to digest the food you eat and transport nutrients throughout your body. Some studies suggest that meal size, physical activity, and age, among other things, can increase your TEF.
All Other Daily Activity
Exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT) and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) make up all other daily activities. Any type of physical activity or exercise are classified as EAT activities, while doing laundry, washing the dishes, or gardening are all forms of NEAT activities.
Cardio vs. Strength Training
Increasing your exercise activity thermogenesis can help boost your metabolic rate. Two common types of exercises are cardio and strength training.
Cardio exercise is a type of aerobic workout that is beneficial for cardiovascular health. This form of exercise, which can include activities such as running, cycling, and HIIT training, helps to get your heart rate up.
Strength training, or resistance training, is a type of exercise used to build or increase muscle mass or strength. This can be done in the form of weight lifting, banded exercises, or even bodyweight movements.
Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on resting metabolic rate. Strength training can also be beneficial for metabolism, as building muscle has been shown to boost your metabolic rate.
Should You Focus on Cardio or Strength Training?
Both cardio and strength training can be helpful in increasing your metabolic rate. But is one type of exercise better than the other?
Including cardio in any form whether that’s walking, doing burpees, running, or swimming can be beneficial for getting physical movement in and burning calories. Strength training, however, has a host of metabolic health benefits other than building muscle.
Here are some of the proven benefits of strength training.
- Optimized or improved blood glucose levels
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Increased fitness and weight loss
- Better brain function and mental clarity
- Improved mood
But if you don’t like weight lifting or strength training, you may want to discuss ways to make your workouts more fun (and tailored to your preferences) with a personal trainer.
5 Best Metabolic Training Exercises To Add to Your Routine
If you want to start incorporating more strength training into your workouts, start by doing bodyweight movements until you feel comfortable adding weights. You can use a mixture of compound movements and isolation exercises to get the most out of your workout.
More advanced individuals can incorporate these exercises into their workouts with weights or increase the amount of reps or sets done.
Since you’ll want to build muscle mass evenly across your body, you’ll want to make sure to take a full-body approach to your workouts, especially if you only have one or two days to train per week. Create a weekly workout plan to make sure you’re targeting each muscle group.
Here are some of the most common strength training exercises to start incorporating into your workouts.
The squat is one of the most beneficial lower body movements, and there are endless variations of this exercise. You can start out with bodyweight squats and gradually start including goblet squats (with a dumbbell) and even barbell squats to your routine.
Research suggests that squats can improve body composition and increase lower body strength. It’s interesting to note that the study showing this found these benefits in just bodyweight squatting. This means you don’t have to rely on or start off with weighted squats.
Deadlifts are very effective at building muscle. They work a variety of different muscle groups, including the hamstrings, glutes, core, and even the back.
This exercise can be done with dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, or with a barbell. However, it’s essential to maintain proper form and use your core when doing this exercise to avoid injuring your lower back.
Pushups are a great bodyweight exercise. This movement can help you upper body strength and increase muscle mass in the triceps, shoulders and pec muscles. Building strength is also great for improved physical fitness and your metabolic health.
Kettlebells are a type of free weight that can be used in a variety of ways. One study showed that the benefits of kettlebell training range from increasing physical fitness to improving metabolic syndrome in women prone to osteoporosis.
Kettlebells can even be used to help prevent falls in elderly adults. Try including kettlebell swings in your workouts moving forward.
Lunges are another great strength exercise that can also be done with or without weights. You can do front lunges, reverse lunges, and even walking lunges with just your bodyweight.
This exercise mainly works the lower body, and can help your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves grow.
Give This Metabolic Workout a Try
Here’s a quick 10 minute workout that combines some of the exercises listed above to build muscle, burn calories, and get your heart rate up. Remember that you can do this workout with your bodyweight, or include weights and increase the number of reps you do depending on your fitness level.
You may see best muscle building results if you do these exercises to failure or near failure. Make sure to discuss this with your trainer, as they’ll be familiar with your fitness journey and physical ability.
Complete these 10 exercises as guided by Caroline Jordan in the video above. You'll perform each exercise for one minute.
- High Knee Marches
- Butt Kick Bicep Curl
- Squat Twist
- Half Burpee
- Lunges and Lateral Raise
- Leg Lift Jack
- Hand Release Push Up
- Table Top Butt Squeeze
- Hip Thrust and Crunch
- Plank Up Downs
Feel free to adjust these movements to your fitness level. You can also tweak some movements and even add weights to turn some of these movements into a compound exercise.
Cool down with a focus on stretching the main muscle groups you worked during this workout. When you’re done, make sure to follow this workout with adequate protein, a DOMS reducing meal, magnesium, and even foam rolling your muscles for best results.
Other Tips and Resources For Metabolic Health
Eating nutrient-dense foods and practicing meditation or engaging in other stress-relieving activities can also be beneficial for metabolic health. You may also try taking steps to reduce stress and inflammation which can improve blood glucose response.
The thyroid gland also plays an important role in metabolism, helping to regulate energy metabolism. Thyroid health is especially important for women to take into consideration when trying to support their metabolism, as women are more likely to have thyroid disorders or issues.
Support your thyroid function by getting enough good quality sleep and consuming thyroid supporting nutrients such as adequate iodine, selenium, B vitamins, and zinc.
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Heather has worked in healthcare and nutrition for over 15 years, with bachelor's degrees in Microbiology and Philosophy and a master's degree in Nutrition Science. Her professional background includes nutrition and diabetes research, nutrition education, medical writing, and extensive clinical work in a functional neuroendocrine specialty practice.