Okay, despite the kind of icy temperatures we’re enduring in the top half of the country this spring, summer’s almost here. You know what that means: mercury rising, outdoor activities, and a renewed push to burn fat left over from a winter of relative inactivity and too many second helpings.
Sure, burning off your extra fat in preparation for summer may be something that’s been on your mind, but chances are you’d like some alternatives that won’t leave you sweating, exhausted, and downright bored. That’s right, too many fat burning workouts are just plain boring. I can only walk on that inclined platform, going nowhere, and watching Sports Center so many times before I want to jump off the nearest cliff.
With that in mind, I’m going to reveal my favorite fun workouts to burn off fat for summer. They’re super effective, and they won’t have you reaching for the no-doze in a vain attempt to stave off boredom induced sleep.
My personal favorite, tennis not only burns fat with a vengeance, it does great job strengthening and toning all manner of muscles, including your obliques, glutes, legs, and forearms. The best part for me though, is that it’s blast to play. Other advantages include the fact that it’s cheap, requires minimal equipment, and is easy to learn.
Disadvantages: you need a tennis court, complete with net, a partner, and moderately good weather, although I’ve been known to play in what many would consider better suited for skiing. On the bright side, courts are plentiful (in the U.S., at least) and many of them are free to play on. You’ll find them at parks and schools throughout the land.
Rackets are a bit spendy if you run down to the local store to pick one up. You don’t have to go that route, though. You can get great rackets for less than $10 at Goodwill, Value Village, or just about any second hand store. My wife even found a Babolat Pure Drive, in fantastic condition, for $7. They normally sell for about $190 when new. It was my favorite racquet until an unfortunate car trunk closing rendered it unusable. If you want a new racquet; stick with last year’s model. The good ones will run you between $50 and $100.
Inline Skating –
This is an old favorite, and if you have some nice, paved trails, uncrowded sidewalks, or empty parking complexes nearby, it is definitely a way to burn fat and strengthen your lower body. It will have you pushing ever harder, and like any fun workout, you can easily end up going at it far longer than you intended.
If you’re good, you can use your inline skates at a skate park, for fat burning fun in 3 dimensions. There are skate parks everywhere around me, and some of them have pools, bowls, and all manner of urban obstacles on and over which you can jump, grind, or fly.
As with tennis, one of the great things about inline skating is that you can get started with minimal equipment, and with this one, you don’t even need a partner, although like sex (another fun, fat burning workout) it’s more fun if you have one.
Wii Fit –
The Wii Fit was one of the first video games to improve your fitness, rather than devastate it. I have to admit that ours spends a bit too much time languishing in the corner of the playroom now, but it is a great time when we do play it, and while not as good at burning fat as some of the other activities listed here, it is definitely a nice fall back when the clouds come rolling in and the raindrops fall. I did a psot about the Wii Fit a couple of years ago. You can see it here: Wii Fit Games – Making Fat Loss Fun?
This is a summer favorite almost anywhere you go. In the Pacific Northwest, where I live, people seem to take it a bit more seriously than most. You’ve got two variations to enjoy; road and mountain. That’s great to help add some variation, but most people tend to pick on or the other and stay with it.
My brother is a rabid road biker and racer who’s been known to take a brisk, 60 mile ride in the morning, before breakfast. While that certainly burns fat, and you can tell, because he doesn’t have any, it’s a bit too intense for me, and most others, I’d imagine.
Biking is great because you can enjoy scenery, and go mostly at your own pace, although many locales have speed limits on bike trails (another reason to take up mountain biking). The drawback to biking is that bikes can get fairly expensive, as a visit to your local bike shop will confirm.
You don’t have to spend a fortune for the latest carbon fiber and titanium laden wonder child, however. You can peruse Craigslist, e-bay, or your local Nickel Shopper and find a great deal on a nice bike that will serve you well. Don;t forget to do a bit of garage sailing if you’re in need of two wheeled transportation, either.
With the price of gas these days, you could start biking to work. You’ll get in great shape, and with the money you save, you could well retire early.
Dance Central for X-Box Kinect –
This is really fun! You can burn a ton of fat if you really put some energy into it. It’s a fun activity you can do with the whole family, which is also something you can say for biking too, but with a bike, your 7 year old may not be able to keep up the pace you need to get in a good workout. With Dance Central you’ll have no such worries.
The Kinect controller is fantastic. You can just move and the game knows what you’re doing. No need to hold to a controller or anything. As a side note, people (much smarter than myself) are using this controller to interface with computers and control all manner of things not even remotely video game related.
Like any fun workout, you can easily end up doing this far longer than you intended, which is definitely no bad thing. You have to really shake it up to get the full benefit, but you can take slower at the beginning if you need to.
Basketball is a time honored summer activity, even though its official season is smack dab in the middle of winter. There are pickup games throughout the country, on parks and play fields from the Bronx to Seattle and everywhere in between. Small towns and big cities alike have free to use basketball courts, and you’ll usually find pickup games there. It can get pretty competitive on some of these outdoor courts though, so that’s a better option if you can actually play reasonably well.
Many health clubs also have gyms, and you find pickup games there fairly often as well. Typically the competition there is a bit below what you’ll find on the outdoor courts, and you can organize your own games through the club. Many times the club will already have something set up to help people connect for games.
You can get a pretty good workout even if the court’s empty, save for you and the ball. That’s a definite advantage, as is the next to nothing equipment requirement.
Here is a great, outdoor activity that can really help you drop the pounds, but the amount of exercise you get from hiking can range from very little to I-think-I’m-going-to-puke. It depends on many factors, such as the weather, the terrain and the amount of stuff you’re carrying with you. The beauty of hiking is that it’s free, unless you’re hiking in a pay for access area, and requires no special equipment or skills to get started.
There are some hikes in my area that reward you with out of this world views, and will definitely give you a workout. You can always ensure you get a workout by hiking away from your car a nice distance. You then have to get back, obviously, so you’re well and committed to a good workout at that point.
Be sure that if you’re hiking alone, someone knows where you are and when you plan to return. Plenty of hikers have disappeared or died because they fell, were injured, and then couldn’t get back before they were dead of exposure or attacked by a hungry animal. Bears are coming out of hibernation right about now. If you want a really great workout, just try to outrun one. They haven’t eaten in about 5 months. Be sure you make plenty of noise, so that you don’t frighten one by coming up on it unexpectedly, especially if it has a couple of cubs.
If you’re in urban areas, you sometimes have different predators to worry about. In that case, a can of pepper spray, a few Krav Maga classes, and a .45, loaded with some 230 grain JHP should do the trick, provided you can shoot worth a damn.
Another precaution to take when hiking is to bring plenty of water, especially if you’ll be in direct sunlight, and the temperatures start to rise. Stay hydrated, and be sure to liberally slather on the sunscreen. A friend of mine is a dermatologist, and he told me the number one and two mistakes people make with sunscreen is that they don’t apply it early enough before being exposed to the sun, and they use too little. Wearing a hat isn’t a bad idea, either.
These are my favorite fun, fat burning workouts. Of course, you can always try just keeping up with your kids, that’ll do it!
What are your favorites? Leave them in a comment, so others can enjoy them too.