Quality over quantity — it’s a repetitive saying but it certainly rings true with exercise. Even if you’re a hardcore gym fiend, it’s a good idea to check in every now and then with your form, style, and routine. After all, we have to make that calorie burn count.

Got the form down but have no time? Here are 5 cardio tweaks you can make to get the most calories out of your routine.

1. Add an incline to your cardio

Used to walking or jogging at zero incline for an extended period of time? Pop up the incline on your treadmill, or take a hilly route outside, to help increase intensity, build muscle, and boost your calorie burn.

Try to maintain a consistent speed for the biggest payoff.

2. Break up your workouts

Rather than steady-state cardio, add intervals — for instance, 1-minute jog, 1-minute walk, repeat for 30 minutes — to burn more fat, increase your metabolism, and more.

When you challenge your body with short periods of higher intensity broken up by short steady-state recovery periods, you’ll reap greater benefits all around.

3. Throw on weights, not dumbbells

Adding muscle to your frame will help increase your resting metabolism, making your body burn more calories even when you’re at rest.

Incorporate three days of strength training into your weekly exercise routine, or take your walk or run to the next level if you have access to ankle weights or a weighted vest.

4. Drink two cups of water 10 minutes before you work out

A study from 2003 found that drinking about two cups of water before a workout can boost your metabolism by 30 percent. This increase occurred within 10 minutes of consumption and reached a peak 30 to 40 minutes after drinking.

5. Get enough protein to keep your muscles working

Be sure you’re eating enough protein, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. It can help you meet your goal by reducing hunger and cravings, helping to stave off muscle loss and more.

Aim for 30 percent of your daily calories to come from protein. For a daily intake of 1,500 calories, that’s 112.5 grams of protein.

Next time you don’t have enough time to get a full hour in, keep these hacks in mind. And remember, as long as you’re moving, you’re burning!


Nicole Davis is a Boston-based writer, ACE-certified personal trainer, and health enthusiast who works to help women live stronger, healthier, happier lives. Her philosophy is to embrace your curves and create your fit — whatever that may be! She was featured in Oxygen magazine’s “Future of Fitness” in the June 2016 issue. Follow her on Instagram.