A hectic schedule makes it difficult to find time for anything not related to work, home or family. But a little time to take care of yourself can give you the energy and enthusiasm needed to cross everything off your To-Do list, while making you feel good in your own skin. Put your multitasking talents to work for you by doing forms of exercise that help you shed the flab and tone your muscles at the same time.
When performed daily, circuit training can help you blast away 1 pound per week as you tone your muscles. This 500-calorie-per-hour workout leads you through alternating segments of cardio and strength training. You'll start with a five-minute warm-up, such as walking around or jogging in place. Then, proceed to do three-minute segments of cardio exercises, such as jumping rope, jumping jacks or using your favorite piece of cardio equipment. Once the three-minute cardio segment ends, you'll spend 30 to 45 seconds performing a strength-training exercise, such as lunges, squats, pushups, curls or presses. If you plan to do circuit training every day, make sure to do upper-body strength-training moves one day and lower-body or core-training moves the next. Alternating your strength-training focus allows the muscles to recover from the workout.
Building muscle helps your body become a more efficient calorie-burning machine. Heavy-lifting workouts aren't just for bodybuilder-wannabes. Lifting heavy weights can get your heart pumping and help you blast fat as you tone and define your muscles. Don't worry -- you won't end up looking like a wrestler or football player because the female body doesn't have the level of testosterone needed for that to happen. During two out of three of your weekly strength-training sessions, use weights heavy enough to make it difficult to perform the last of eight to 12 repetitions. When you notice the weights you're using are beginning to feel lighter, it's time to start using heavier ones. What's heavy to you may seem lightweight to someone else; it's all relative. Go for dumbbells, kettlebells or free weights between 10 to 25 pounds, if possible. But if you have to use lighter weight or can lift heavier ones, start with what is best for you.
You don't have to get involved in the latest extreme workout to get rid of flab and sculpt your muscles. Walking workouts can help you get a fit, beach-ready body without having to exercise long and hard. Walk for 30 to 45 minutes five to six days per week. Move briskly while pumping your arms to get your heart rate up. On alternate days, incorporate hills or intervals of faster walking or jogging into your walking workouts. Follow four to five minutes of your regular walking pace with 30 to 60 seconds of walking up or downhill, or jogging. On the weekend, choose one day for a longer-distance walk. Move along at a moderate pace for 45 minutes to one and a half hours. This is a great walk to take with a girlfriend or partner to enjoy some social time while you rack up the miles.
Some people do specific exercises, such as abdominal crunches, because they want to lose weight in that area. If you're trying to get rid of a muffin top, jiggly arms or a fat butt, spot reduction isn't going to work. You've got to do cardio exercises and eat a healthy, calorie-reduced diet to lose weight all over, which will help you get rid of the fat in your trouble spots. By performing workouts that burn fat and tone your muscles, you can lose the weight you need to lose and get leaner with the toned muscles you develop.
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.