With bathing suit season coming up quickly, you need to get your body into shape so you can show off your washboard abs, killer legs and toned arms. To do this, you will need to combine cardiovascular exercise to burn the fat with a strength training routine to build some muscle and give you a toned, chiseled look. You can’t go from ‘flab to abs’ in a few weeks, but if you start early enough, you will be able to make a huge difference in the way your body looks.
If you are trying to reduce your body fat percentage, you need to start doing high intensity cardiovascular exercise. This is true whether your problem area is your entire body or just one area such as your abs, thighs or arms. If you try and only target that one area, you won’t see any results. You can’t burn fat by doing crunches or bicep curls. Even if those exercises did burn fat, there is no way to control what area of your body the fat will come from. This is known as spot reducing and it is impossible.
If you are just starting to exercise, it is especially important to combine a flexibility regimen with your routine. Stretching takes only a few minutes and can go a long way in preventing soreness and injuries. You should warm up before you stretch by walking, jogging or biking lightly for five minutes. Next, pick one stretch per muscle group and hold it for 15-30 seconds. Do two to three sets per muscle. This should not take more than ten minutes.
Cardio will help you burn the layer of fat so that you can show off the muscles underneath. You should be doing cardio three to six times per week. The first two weeks, three times [per week] will be enough. Starting off slow will allow your body to adjust to the exercise. This will help prevent any injuries, especially if you do not normally workout. Increase the amount of cardio you do by one day per week after the first two [weeks] until you reach five or six [days of cardio per week].
The amount of time required for each cardio session depends on how much weight you need to lose and what other exercise you will be doing that day. The minimum amount of time should be 30 minutes (not including warming up and cooling down). This 30 minutes is for people who do not have a lot of weight to lose and are doing strength (weight training) training the same day. If you have more weight to lose, do 30-45 minutes of cardio per session for the first two weeks and up it by 10 minutes per day for each week after that until you reach 60 minutes. Remember, you don’t need to be going at full blast for the whole time. You can also break up your session and do 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night.
You can use any activity for your cardio that gets your heart beating quickly. Some good exercises are running, biking, swimming, rowing, boxing, basketball, tennis or any other sport. You can also do other activities such as yard work, washing your car or cleaning the house. You will burn calories as long as you are working hard and getting your heart to beat fast.
Your strength and weight training routine will help build muscle so that once you achieve a low body fat percentage, you will have a toned appearance. You should do weight training two to four times a week. You can either do a full body workout every day or split it up: split suggestion – day 1. chest/triceps, 2. back/biceps, 3. legs, 4. shoulders. A full body workout is best for people who don’t want to gain a lot of muscle but just want to lose weight.
You can do a full body workout two to four times per week. Start off your first week by training for two days and going up one day per week until you reach three or four [days per week]. Pick a workout (free weight or machine) for each muscle group (glutes, hamstrings, quads, calfs, chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps and abs). Do one to two sets per muscle at eight to twelve repetitions per set. You need to pick a weight so that your last repetition is truly your last one – muscle failure.
If you are doing a split routine, figure out which muscle you want to workout each day. The above suggestion works good because triceps are used when working out your chest and biceps are used when working out your back. When you work these groups together, you will get a more efficient and shorter workout. Start by going three days per week for the first week and increasing it to four days after that. Do six to nine sets per muscle group at eight to twelve repetitions per set.
Whether you are using a fully body workout or split routine, make sure you always do the bigger muscle groups (glutes, hamstrings, quads, chest, back) before any of the smaller ones (shoulders, biceps, triceps, calfs, abs).
The Bottom Line
Getting a summer beach body takes time and dedication. While exercise alone can make a difference, you should combine your routine with a good diet for the best and quickest results.