With the summer just around the corner, this is the time to step up the pace and get your beach body. With roughly eight weeks to go, it is perfect timing to start a workout aimed at toning your machine.
Many of us are still holding onto those holiday pounds and finally have some more motivation to shave them. Face it, even though we know the health benefits of being fit, the thought of being at the beach or pool is much more motivating. Or, some of us may have been focusing on building muscle all winter and could use a good cut phase.
First thing is to get the calorie count under control. Many websites and apps are available to tell you how many calories you should consume to meet your fitness goal and they even help you keep track of them. My favorite is the FitBit Force fitness bracelet. It counts the calories I burn and the app keeps track of my caloric intake.
Next, get a solid workout plan together. You are looking for one that is higher reps than what you are currently doing. For example, those looking to build muscle mass are doing 4-6 reps of very heavy weight. They should go to a strength routine that calls for 8-10 reps per set. Strength trainers should go to a toning regimen with 12-15 reps per set. The higher the reps the more fat you burn.
A good plan could be to do back and biceps on Monday with five back exercises, and five bicep exercises. Doing three sets of each will give you a good burn and melt away some calories. Tuesday, max cardio for at least 30 minutes and then play some basketball, tennis, ride a bike, or any other activity you enjoy and keeps you moving. Wednesday, legs and abs. Doing leg exercises like lunges or squats are the best because they call for big movements. Exercises that isolate a single muscle are good, but if your going for calorie burn, big movements are the way. As for abs, you should be doing exercises that call for leg movement. These cause you to focus on the spare tire region of the belly.
Thursday is another cardio day. This is the mix it up day, so do an aerobic class, run sprints, or anything else that calls for constant motion. Friday is chest and triceps day. Do the same number of sets and reps as for back and biceps day. Saturday is another max cardio day. I like to do a long run on these days. A normal run for me is a 3.2 miles and a long run usually tops out with 6 miles. Sunday is rest day and make sure you are sticking to your calorie count…no cheat days until you reach your goal.
Lastly, it is extremely important to focus on cardio and working the major muscle groups. Focusing on small groups like just forearms is great when in muscle build phase, but little muscles don’t burn the calories.
(Photo courtesy of Scott Snyder)