Everyone is after the latest quick fix to get them in top condition for that upcoming summer beach holiday. While you won't make any drastic progress if you've left it until the last minute, three months is ample time to make a difference to your physique. With some diligent work, in that time you can go from overweight and average to trim and toned.
Weigh yourself once a week and take progress photos once a month to gauge how you're getting on. If you're not progressing at the speed you'd like, increase your cardio times and intensity slightly, or drop your daily calorie intake a little.
Consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet and training regime. Ask a qualified trainer if you need assistance with any gym exercises.
Cut your calorie intake. Losing fat and getting lean is all about creating a calorie deficit -- consuming fewer calories than you burn. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that active men consume 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day to maintain weight and active women consume 2,000 to 2,400. To lose fat, you will need to go slightly below this. Reduce your calories by 500 to 1,000 calories per day to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, advises MayoClinic.com. In three months, this should give you a noticeable weight loss.
Add weight training to your routine. Perform a full-body training session three times per week on non-consecutive days for the first month and a half. Full-body workouts use more muscle groups and burn more calories than body-part splits, making them superior for fat loss, says strength coach Marc Perry of Built Lean. Perform five to six exercises per session, covering your whole body, such as squats, leg curls, chinups or pulldowns, shoulder presses and bench presses or pushups.
Switch to an upper-body, lower-body split in the second half of your three months. This involves working your upper body on Monday and Thursday and lower body on Tuesday and Friday. By adding a fourth session each week, you're increasing the frequency of muscle stimulation, calorie burn and metabolism boost, but still allowing for ample recovery.
Increase your training intensity. The weights you lift should be challenging. The notion that high repetition sets with lighter weights is better for fat burning is false. Perform all your exercises for three to four sets of eight to 12 reps using a weight that's challenging, but that you can lift with perfect form. Keep your rest periods to no longer than 60 seconds to increase calorie burn. Aim to progress consistently every week during your three-month plan.
Perform cardio three days per week. Cardio aids with burning calories and shedding fat. In weeks one to six, perform two steady-state sessions and one interval session. Your steady state session could be 30 minutes at a moderate pace on the bike, treadmill or rower. For your interval sessions, pick a gym machine, warm up for five minutes, then work at maximum intensity for 30 seconds. Go at a leisurely pace for 90 seconds and repeat 10 times. From week seven, switch to two interval sessions and one steady state session.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.