If you want to stay healthy and avoid the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other serious illnesses, you need to maintain your weight within normal limits. Add healthy years to your life by losing excess weight now. There is no magic diet or pill for permanent weight loss. You simply have to become more active and work out. With a three-day-a-week fitness plan, you can shed extra body weight and start living a healthier lifestyle.
Resistance training is important to your fitness plan because it firms and tones your muscles. And having more muscle means you burn more calories at rest. You want to select one exercise each for your chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps and back. Use an amount of resistance that allows you to perform three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions. Thirty minutes is all you should need to complete your upper-body workout.
After you're finished with resistance training, move onto a cardio workout. Cardio is a great way to shed body fat and improve heart and lung health. A 60-minute, moderate-effort workout is ideal. Cardio workouts can be fun and challenging. Mix things up in your workout by changing exercises. For instance, spend 20 minutes each on three different cardio machines, such as a stair stepper, stationary bike and elliptical machine. If the weather is nice, go outside for a run or go for a bike ride.
Day two of your fitness plan includes 30 minutes of high-intensity cardio. This workout should definitely be more challenging than your cardio was on day one. High-intensity cardio is all about hard effort. It's a tougher workout but shreds body fat. If you listen to headphones while working out, pick some high-energy music to help keep you going. After you warm up, go hard for 60 to 90 seconds and then go easy. When you begin to breathe normally, repeat this process. A good high-intensity workout should include seven to 10 intervals of hard effort. Spinning or high-impact aerobics classes are excellent high-intensity workouts. While your muscles are still warm, follow your cardio workout with whole-body stretching for 10 to 15 minutes. Then work on strengthening your core for 20 minutes.
Day three is the time to work on your lower body. Perform exercises for your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. You want to keep resistance levels, sets and repetitions consistent with day one. Thirty minutes is all you should need for this resistance workout. Follow your lower-body workout with another 60-minute, moderate-effort cardio workout. You might want to make this workout different from day one. Switching exercises is beneficial, as different muscles are worked.
Strategy and Considerations
For resistance training, you want to use free weights or gym machines. Feel free to combine a mixture of both. Keeping correct form is also very important. If you are unable to complete every repetition correctly, lower the amount of resistance.
Cardio is all about burning calories. The longer and more intense the workout, the more calories you burn. Use cardio exercises with which you feel comfortable, such as running, cycling, swimming, stair stepper, elliptical machine, stationary bike and aerobics classes.
Make sure to drink plenty of water before and during cardio workouts. You might want to keep an energy supplement close by in case you start to feel sluggish. You can also eat an energy bar before starting cardio workouts.
Marcus Schantz is an author and licensed attorney based in Chicago. He holds a Juris Doctor from the Northern Illinois University College of Law, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and microbiology from the University of Texas at Austin.