Your metabolism includes everything your body does to turn food into energy. There are some things that you can’t control that influence your metabolism, like age, gender, and genetics. There are also the things you can control, like the types of food you eat and the exercise you do (or don’t do), that also have an effect on metabolism.
What are the benefits of a boosted metabolism?
If your goal is to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, having a higher metabolism can help you achieve that. An additional benefit of a faster metabolism is that it will give you more physical and mental energy.
What are the primary ways you can control your metabolism?
- Eating certain foods
Eating protein and performing weight training are two of the primary ways you can control the speed at which your body turns food into energy. Your metabolism increases whenever you eat, digest, and store food, which is a process called the thermic effect of food. Protein has a higher thermic effect than fats and carbohydrates because it takes longer for your body to burn and absorb protein.
Dedicated athletes have lean, muscular physiques partly because they follow the primary principles of following a high protein, lower carb diet along with routine weight resistance training. While it takes work and dedication, it is the commitment to this system of diet and exercise that allows your body to work efficiently to use food for energy rather than store it as fat.
Strength training helps to increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR) by increasing the amount of lean muscle in your body. Your RMR is the number of calories your body requires to perform basic functions like breathing, blood circulation, and digestion. Weightlifting not only helps increase your metabolism during and after your workout but because it also affects your resting metabolism giving it a continued boost while your body is at rest.
Sleep alters hormones that regulate hunger and fullness. A lack of sleep changes the way your body metabolizes fat. Poor sleep is associated with increased stress and blood sugar intolerance. Sleep is an essential component of regulating metabolism. Sleep deprivation may also affect your body’s ability to convert food and fat into energy. Research has shown that sleeping less diminishes your ability to break down fat into energy, so your body stores fat instead of using it. Sleeping too little or too much can both have adverse effects on metabolism.
Top Exercises That Boost Metabolism
Knowing that exercising, especially weight training, boosts metabolism, what are some of the best exercises that can rev up your metabolism and burn fat?
Cardio Vs. Weight Training
A cardio workout burns more calories than a weight training workout. However, your metabolism may stay elevated for longer after lifting weights than it would with cardio. Also, weightlifting is better for building muscle, and more muscle changes the way that your body reacts to food. That’s because your muscles need the energy to repair, maintain, or grow—the more muscle you have, the less likely that what you eat will be stored as fat.
Best Metabolism-Boosting Exercises Without Weights
Mountain climbers target the full body, especially the arms, shoulders, quads, and core. This exercise also yields ample cardio.
How to do mountain climbers:
- Get into a plank position, and make sure to distribute your weight evenly between your hands and toes.
- Pull your right knee into your chest as far as you can.
- Switch legs, pulling one knee out and bringing the other knee in.
- Keep your hips down and run your knees in and out as far and as fast as you can.
- As you alternate, inhale and exhale with each leg change.
High knees are a cardio-intensive exercise performed at a fast pace. It engages your core, strengthens all the muscles in your legs, and gets your heart rate up.
How to do high knees:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift up your left knee to your chest.
- Switch to lift your right knee to your chest. Continue the movement, alternating legs and moving at a running or sprinting pace.
Additional cardiovascular metabolism-boosting exercises that you can do without weights or other equipment include:
- Any type of aerobic exercise
Best Metabolism-Boosting Exercises With Weights
The benefits of performing deadlifts include strengthening and gaining more definition in your upper and lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. These are large muscle groups, and the more muscle you train and build, the better boost to your metabolism. For a proper deadlift, you can use a barbell, kettlebell, or dumbbells.
How to do a barbell deadlift:
- Stand behind a barbell with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Sit your hips back, bend your knees slightly, and lean your torso forward, maintaining a tight core and flat back.
- Grab the bar, placing your hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing in toward your body.
- Push your feet into the floor and stand up tall, pulling the weight with you and keeping your arms straight.
- Bring your hips forward and squeeze your abs and glutes at the top.
- Slowly reverse the movement, bending your knees and pushing your butt back to lower the weight back to the floor.
- Keep the bar close to your body the entire time and maintain a flat back.
- Repeat 8-10 reps.
Barbell Bench Press
Bench presses work several different muscles in your upper body, including the chest, shoulders, and arms. Engaging all these muscle groups while doing the bench press will break down or tear the muscle as you exercise, and as your body works to repair the muscle, your metabolism will boost.
How to do a barbell bench press:
- Lie on your back flat on a bench.
- Press your feet firmly into the ground and keep your hips on the bench throughout the entire movement.
- Keep your core engaged and maintain a neutral spine position throughout the movement.
- Slowly lift the barbell off the rack. Lower the bar to the chest, about nipple level, allowing elbows to bend out to the side, about 45 degrees away from the body.
- Press your feet into the floor as you push the bar back up to return to the starting position.
- Perform 5 to 10 reps depending on the amount of weight.
A barbell squat is a compound exercise that activates muscle groups throughout your lower body, including your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back muscles. The activation of these large muscle groups makes the barbell squat one of the best metabolism-boosting exercises.
How to do a barbell squat:
- Stand with the bar on your upper back and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Squat down by pushing your knees to the side while moving your hips back.
- Squat down until your hips are lower than your knees.
- Squat back up while keeping your knees out and chest up.
- Stand with your hips and knees locked at the top.
- Perform 5 to 10 reps depending on the amount of weight.
Most Important Thing About Boosting Your Metabolism
Some movement is always better than no movement so make it a point to include any type of exercise movement throughout your day, every day. Your body is designed to move and, in most cases, is built to withstand vigorous exercise, including weight training. Weight training is your best defense against the aging process and is the ultimate best thing you can do to boost your metabolism.
Equipment for Metabolism-Boosting Exercises