The three components of your weekly schedule
1. Strength training: Three times a week. Below are total-body workouts with one workout that puts extra emphasis on your legs.
2. Additional cardiovascular exercise: Optional, on non-strength-training days. Examples are cycling, running, swimming, walking, and using cardio machines. An interval workout is recommended for 1 day a week, and light cardiovascular exercise like walking is recommended for 2 of your 3 off days.
Twice a week. I recommend doing them before your strength training or interval workouts.
Here, you're going to do circuit training to optimize your muscle-building potential. That is, you'll perform one set of an exercise and then move immediately to the next exercise, with just 30 seconds of rest. Follow the order of the exercises here; that will allow you to work different body parts from set to set. ( for a complete set of exercise descriptions and instructional photos.)
By alternating between body parts, you'll keep your body in constant work mode and be able to perform the movements back-to-back without rest. Here's why circuit training works so well: You'll save time because you'll cut the amount of rest you need when you alternate muscle groups. More important, you'll keep your heart rate elevated throughout the workout, so you'll burn even more fat while you're exercising - whether it's in the gym or in your own living room.
In the first 2 weeks of the program, do the circuit twice. Move from exercise to exercise with no more than 30 seconds of rest in between. When you complete one circuit, rest for 1 to 2 minutes, then complete the second circuit. After the first 2 weeks, when you've become comfortable doing two complete circuits during a workout, increase your workload to three circuits per workout. In every exercise, use a weight that you can handle comfortably for the number of repetitions noted. When that becomes too easy, increase the weight on each set by 10 percent or less. Here's a sample schedule of how you might arrange your workouts.
Total-Body Strength Training Workout with Ab Emphasis
Complete one set of each ab exercise*, then complete the rest of the circuit twice.
|Bent-Leg Knee Raise*|
|Oblique V-Up*||10 each side|
|Bridge*||1 or 2|
Light Cardiovascular Exercise Such as Walking
(Try for 30 Minutes at a Brisk Pace)
Complete one set of each ab exercise* once, then complete rest of circuit twice.
|Saxon Side Bend*||6-10 each side|
|Side Bridge*||1 or 2 each side|
Go on to the next page to see the rest of the week's schedule...
(Try for 30–45 Minutes at a Brisk Pace)
Total-Body Strength Training Workout, with Leg Emphasis
Repeat entire circuit twice.
|Traveling Lunge||10–12 each leg|
Abs Workout Plus Interval Workout
Complete one set of each ab exercise, then choose one interval workout from our selection.
|Bent-Leg Knee Raise|
|Oblique V-Up||6–10 each side|
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands behind your ears. Slowly crunch up, bringing your shoulder blades off the ground. 12 - 15 repetitions, 1 set
Bent-Leg Knee Raise
Lie on your back with your head and neck relaxed and your hands on the floor near your butt. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Use your lower abdominal muscles to raise your knees up toward your rib cage, then slowly lower your feet back to the starting position. As your feet lightly touch the floor, repeat. 12 reps, 1 set
Lie on your side with your body in a straight line. Fold your arms across your chest. Keeping your legs together, lift them off the floor as you raise your top elbow toward your hip. The range of motion is short, but you should feel an intense contraction in your obliques. 10 reps each side, 1 set
Start to get in a Pushup position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of your hands. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Pull your abdominals in; imagine you're trying to move your belly button back to your spine. Hold for 20 seconds, breathing steadily. As you build endurance, you can do one 60-second set. 1 - 2 reps, 1 set
Attach a rope handle to a high cable pulley. Stand with your back to the weight stack, and hold the ends of the rope behind your head. Crunch down. 12 - 15 reps, 1 set
Lie with your hands underneath your tailbone and your legs raised and pointed straight up toward the ceiling, perpendicular to your torso. Pull your navel inward, and flex your glutes as you lift your hips just a few inches off the floor. Then lower your hips. 12 reps, 1 set
Saxon Side Bend
Hold a pair of lightweight dumbbells over your head, in line with your shoulders, with your elbows slightly bent. Keep your back straight, and slowly bend directly to your left side as far as possible without twisting your upper body. Pause, return to an upright position, then bend to your right side as far as possible. 6 - 10 reps on each side, no rest between sets
Lie on your nondominant side. Support your weight with that forearm and the outside edge of that foot. Your body should form a straight line from head to ankles. Pull your abs in as far as you can, and hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds, breathing steadily. Relax. If you can do 30 seconds, do one repetition. If not, try for any combination of reps that gets you up to 30 seconds. Repeat on your other side.