Have you ever watched a slender woman take down a big bowl of ice cream and wondered, Where does she put it? She doesn't put it anywhere, actually. Most likely, she has a Maserati-fast metabolism that incinerates fat before it has a chance to take up residence on her thighs.
Jealous? Don't be. While genetics counts for part of your metabolic efficiency, you can give Mother Nature a kick in the pants by simply tweaking your fitness regimen. "Your body adapts to exercise over time, which causes your metabolism to fall into a lull," says Geoff Bagshaw, group fitness manager at the Equinox fitness club in Miami. "Adding variety to your workouts will help you break through plateaus so you continue to see results."
Intensity matters too: Exercising harder promotes the growth of lean muscle, which burns more calories during and after your workout, says Craig Ballantyne, owner of TurbulenceTraining.com. The three strength-training techniques on these pages will inject a powerful double shot of variety and intensity into your usual routine. Replace one of your regular workouts each week with one of these training methods and watch those extra pounds melt away
This technique involves doing a resistance exercise with weights, and then immediately following it with an explosive body-weight exercise that works the same muscle group. "In contrast training, the movement pattern of the second exercise should always mimic the first one," says sports performance specialist Barry Lovelace, owner of FitQuest Fitness in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In other words, chest presses should be followed by explosive pushups, or dumbbell squats followed by squat jumps.
Fat-trimming trick: Busting out an explosive move after a strength move trains your body to recruit more muscle fibers. Researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz found that this type of workout (also called concurrent training) increases lean muscle mass while it decreases body-fat percentage.
Try it Hold a 10-to 20-pound dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet hip-width apart, and lower into a squat (as if you're sitting into a chair) for five to 10 reps. Then ditch the dumbbells and do five to 10 jump squats: Lower into a squat, then push through your heels to jump off the ground; land softly and immediately lower into another rep. Rest for one to three minutes, then repeat the sequence, working your way up to five or six sets.