1. Inefficient exercise gets results
You certainly need to optimize your workout time but that doesn't mean doing the same routine day in and day out; your body gets accustomed to routine and won't make additional gains.
Manipulate your fitness
To reach your beach body fitness goals quickly, you need to "manipulate the FIT principles," according to Paul Killian, an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist in central Florida. FIT stands for Frequency, Intensity and Time. To manipulate these principles, for example, go from three days of working out to four; add 15 to 30 minutes to your normal workout time; and/or increase the intensity of your workout.
Mix up your cardio and strength training
"You want to maximize your exercise time," continues Killian. "One way to do that is by focusing your routine on circuits and supersets and eliminating rest periods normally found in regular exercise routines. In a circuit, you move from one exercise to the next with no rest. In a superset, you pick two body parts (such as biceps and triceps) and go back and forth between the two, also with no rest."
Example of a circuit workout
According to Killian, a typical total body circuit workout works large muscle groups to smaller muscles. Start with exercises that target the legs, chest and back and then do exercises that work the shoulders, biceps and triceps. Pick an exercise for each body part and do four circuits of those exercises. To increase the cardio effect, keep weight light and do a higher number of reps (15 to 20 repetitions). Add a three- to five-minute treadmill interval between each circuit to further increase the cardio benefit, shred calories and burn fat.
Don't forget your core
Killian generally finishes this type of workout with an abdominal routine. But don't hit the floor just yet. "Most ab routines are done on the floor, and typically I don't want you lying on the floor with a high heart rate, and I don't want your heart rate dropping while you're lying on the floor." Killian suggests choosing seven to 10 different abdominal exercises to do in a circuit, gradually making your way to floor-based core exercises.
2. Focus on diet quality and food quantity
Did a few pounds creep on this winter? Now's the time to reevaluate your diet.
Determine your daily calorie needs
Use an online calorie need calculator to find out how many calories you need to maintain or lose weight. Choose a calorie calculator that asks you to enter your height, weight, age, gender and activity level to determine your daily calorie calculation; taking all these factors into account will give you the most accurate value for your daily caloric needs.
Keep a food journal
Once you're armed with your calorie-need information, keep a food journal to see exactly what and how much you're eating. Jot it down in a notebook, or try an online system, such as www.myfitnesspal.com. There a number of online food trackers that are free, and offer a number of tools for logging and improving your diet and fitness, including iPhone apps.
Control your portions
For best results, focus on quality and quantity in your diet, advises Killian. Make the right food choices in the right portions. If you're trying to reach a goal like being 'bikini ready' in a relatively short length of time, focus on cutting sugars and sweets, alcohol and fried foods, and eat more vegetables and fiber. You can also try simply eating smaller portions. Whatever you're already used to eating, just eat less of it.
"If you don't pay attention to calories, all your exercising may be in vain," warns Killian.
3. Pamper yourself
You've got your body shaping, weight loss plan in check, but what about that skin you'll be showing off on the beach? Now the fun part: After being bundled up all winter, your skin may need a little extra attention before it comes out of hiding. A little pampering is in order to reward yourself for your workouts and diet changes. Use a gentle exfoliating scrub once a week, and be careful not to dry skin out with super hot water. Moisturize well right after every shower or bath, and treat yourself to a spa pedicure for smooth, pretty feet.
With some simple changes to your diet and exercise routine, and a little extra attention to your skin, you can be ready to hit the beach in just a few short weeks.
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