Your heart won't mend from gym time alone. But devoting the next two weeks to unleashing your inner Adonis can help you break out of your funk, fill your suddenly free schedule, and give you a pretty amazing body. Vanity is okay right now (and a vital pillar in the "fuck-you-fit" mentality). The key to getting a leaner, more defined physique rapidly is pushing your body in new ways and making a few simple tweaks to your diet. Just follow these daily tips that build on each other — meaning every day you add a new one while continuing to follow all of the previous tips — and in two weeks, well, let’s just say you’ll feel pretty good if you run into your ex on the street.
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Day 1: Double up with two-a-days.
Doubling up on workouts isn’t a good long-term plan — pushing your body non-stop week after week can increase your risk for injury — but it can get you faster results if you do it for the next 14 days. “Crush one part of your body with strength training during one session and do cardio the second session,” says Eric Ridings, a tier four coach at Equinox in Chicago. Make your second session a long, slower cardio workout. During shorter sessions (like HIIT), your body turns to carb-burning because they're readily available. “But when you do a longer cardio session, like 45 minutes to an hour, your body has the time to start breaking down body fat and using that for fuel,” says Ridings. Another bonus to two-a-days: Research shows combining strength-training workouts with cardio workouts results to bigger muscle growth.
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Day 2: Replace every beverage with water.
Yes, that means no energy drinks, no margaritas, no diet sodas, no beer. We'll give you one cup of coffee or tea in the morning (skip the sugar), but every other drink from here on out should be plain old H2O. “Drinking plenty of water improves how your cells function, muscles contract, and brain thinks,” says nutritionist Ryan D. Andrews, a coach with Precision Nutrition. “Drinking anything high in sugar like juice, energy drinks, and flavored coffee drinks floods the liver with sugar, and the spillover is fat.”
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Day 3: Go ‘til failure.
To see your body bulk up, you have to change your approach to strength training. “Doing three sets of 10 reps at every machine at the gym isn’t going to get you the results you want in two weeks,” says Ridings. “You need to boost what’s called your time under tension, meaning you need to extend the amount of time that the weight is pushing down on your muscles.” And you do that with reps until failure. In other words: Stack on the weights and keep lifting until absolute exhaustion.
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Day 4: Focus on leg strength.
Your lower half has some of the largest muscles in your body (like your glutes), and focusing on strengthening large muscles is key to getting your whole body looking amazing. “Arnold Schwarzenegger used to say that if you build your legs, your whole body will grow,” says Ridings. And there's logic behind that: “[By] working one of your largest muscle groups, you jumpstart a response from your body that leads to more testosterone, which will help you build more muscle all over and shave off belly fat.” A good lower-body circuit to start: squats, deadlifts, lunges, and leg presses.
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Day 5: Pile on the protein.
If you want your muscles to grow, you have to give them the fuel to do that. And that means eating enough protein. To be more specific: 1.8 grams of the stuff for each kilogram you weigh. So if you’re 180 pounds, that’s 81kg, which means you should have 145 grams of protein every day. Of course, you can find protein in meat, but it’s also in vegetarian options like beans, nuts, eggs, and quinoa.
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Day 6: Impose a bedtime for yourself.
Sleep isn’t just key to having lots of energy and recovering after tough workouts, it’s also crucial to getting a better body. Research shows that getting five hours or less sleep a night is linked to having more belly fat. Think of it this way: You finally have the whole bed to yourself, spread out and get seven hours of shut-eye every night.
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Day 7: Start every day this next week with 50 burpees.
High-intensity workouts are key for getting your body looking better ASAP. And that’s exactly why you should kick off every morning with burpees. “What you do first thing in the morning has a huge impact on how you feel for the rest of your day,” says Anna Kaiser, founder of AKT in New York and Connecticut. “Doing 50 burpees in the a.m. — especially with a push-up added to the bottom — will give you an instant endorphin rush, help you feel strong, and get your heart going.”
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Day 8: Head outdoors for a sprint hill workout.
You’ve been doing two-a-days for the past week, now it’s time to shake up your workout a little. “Find a hill — hopefully one that’s 200 yards or so — and create an entire sprint cardio session around it,” says Kaiser. Here’s how: Sprint up the hill, pushing hard the entire way, walk back down, and repeat for 10 minutes. “It will feel super intense, but since you only need to push yourself for 200 yards at a time, you can handle it,” says Kaiser. To cool down? Go for a long walk or hike after your sprints, studies find that hiking leads to happiness, as that burst of fresh air can help keep negative thoughts at bay.
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Day 9: Set down the salt shaker.
Ditch crazy diet rules; just cutting back on salt can make a notable difference in making your body leaner, and less puffy and bloated. “Where sodium goes, so goes water. That’s why when you consume a high amount of salt, you end up retaining a lot more water,” says Andrews. “It’s rare for someone to get too much sodium when you just sprinkle salt on a homemade meal — most of the time the excess sodium is coming from processed and restaurant food.” Cook as much as possible, and instead of relying on salt to boost flavor, try vinegar, cayenne or other spices, and fresh herbs.
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Day 10: Stick to supersets.
“Instead of resting between strength moves, do two moves back-to-back so you’re never resting,” says Kaiser. “And since you’re trying to bulk up as much as possible, pick moves that work the same muscle group.” A few options: chest press superset with dumbbell flies, leg presses superset with squat jumps, or triceps dips superset with standing triceps extensions on a cable machine.
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Day 11: Snack smarter.
If you still have extra body fat hanging around, you need to cut more calories. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to change your snacking style. Research shows that 25 percent of calories consumed are from snacks, so lower the calories you get between meals and you’ll drop those few extra pounds pretty quickly. An easy way to do that: Snack only on produce. “Fruits and vegetables are usually pretty light on calories, which will help reduce body fat storage,” says Andrews. “Plus all of the nutrients will help you recover better from [your workouts].”
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Day 12: Better your one rep maxes.
“Lifting the heaviest weight you possibly can will push your body to a whole new level,” says Kaiser. “Pick something like the chest press with a barbell (you'll need a spotter, so talk to that girl already), and see if you can lift more than you ever have before.” Here’s a good strategy: Start with five reps and make it so heavy you can barely lift that fifth rep. Then add on a little more weight and lift it three times, where you can barely lift that third rep. Then add on a little more weight and try to do it one more time.
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Day 13: Hit play on motivation.
It's time for a refresh on your music to make it easier to stick to this grueling routine (and filter out all songs that remind you of her). Pull together a playlist that will put you in the right headspace for finishing these two weeks strong. Here are five songs from Kaiser to get you started:
• "GDFR" by Flo Rida
• "Remember the Name" by Fort Minor
• "Live Your Life" by T.I. featuring Rihanna
• "Love is Overrated" by Shwayze
• "Get Low" by Dillon Francis and DJ Snake
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Day 14: Sign up for a triathlon.
Now that the two weeks are almost done, you’re feeling and looking better than ever — why go back to your old ways? Make it easy to stick to your new habits by signing up for a race like a triathlon. “You’ll meet a bunch of people, which will shake up your social scene, and it will force you to stick to a pretty strict training schedule,” says Kaiser.