A crash workout is not the best way to get in shape. Eating well and exercising daily over a long period is a much healthier – and easier – approach to getting a body you can live with. But if it's a matter of vanity, not long-term well-being, you can turn your body around fast. "Three weeks may seem last minute," says Ron Mathews, a Hollywood trainer who specializes in high-intensity circuit routines and who designed this 21-day workout for us. "But you just need to maximize caloric output and minimize calorie input while activating as many muscles as possible."
Simple. Grueling. Effective. Here's your plan.
Day 1: Dive in!
Dive in! Each day you will burn more calories, break down more muscle, and further restrict your diet. The two biggest shocks will be the time in the gym – 30 minutes of cardio and one hour of lifting each day – as well as the 2,000-calorie diet. Both of these start on Day One.
- Regular Cardio**
"Any activity will do," says Ron Mathews. "Cycling, running, skipping rope, even stair climbing – they all blast away fat, if you do them at the right intensity." To find the right level, focus on your heart rate. On regular cardio days, take on at least 30 minutes at a low to moderate effort after every weight workout (raising the heart rate to 120 to 130 bpm); on interval days, do 30 minutes at a pace that switches from high to low intensity every minute, aiming for around 160 bpm (i.e.: sprint one minute, then jog one minute). During the last week, when you double up on cardio, do your regular workout before breakfast, when your body has less glycogen and relies more on stored fat for energy.
For all lifting, do four sets of eight to 20 repetitions, with diminishing rests in between – 60 seconds for week one, 45 for the next, and then 30 for the last week. You should aim for a weight that is challenging by the last rep but not impossible. Also, feel free to choose any exercises that target the muscle group outlined on the calendar, but don't repeat the same routine more than three times in a row (to avoid injury and keep muscles confused).
*For examples of leg and shoulder exercises see our Summer Fit Workout cheat sheet.
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