If winter hasn't been kind, you may be tempted to crash diet or spend hours at the gym. This year, why not take a different approach and give yourself time to ease into a slow, healthy weight loss program? You'll get in shape, lose fat instead of muscle and make permanent changes that will last all year long.
How to Get Ready for Summer
Before you get started with a new exercise plan and diet, you'll need the following:
- A clean bill of health from your doctor if you've had an injury, illness or medical condition
- 20-60 minutes of time, 4-5 days a week (splitting it up if necessary)
- A commitment to follow a healthy diet most days of the week
- Access to free weights, resistance bands or machines
Your Cardio Program
The first part of any good weight loss or fitness program is cardio exercise. This is your foundation for burning calories, conditioning your heart, lungs and body and getting your body strong for other summer activities you. If you're a beginner, you'll need time to work your way up to the amount of cardio you need to lose weight, about 5 or 6 days a week for about 20-60 minutes in your target heart rate zone. Use these tips and guidelines for setting up your cardio program:
- Start where you are. Assess your fitness level and start with what's comfortable for you. If you haven't worked out in ages, you might start with 15-20 minutes 3-4 days a week and gradually add time and frequency.
- Split your workouts. If you don't have time for long workouts, try doing short bouts of exercise throughout the day. Experts have found this is just as effective as continuous workouts.
- Choose activities you enjoy. You'll be more motivated to stick with your workouts when you like what you're doing.
- Vary the intensity, duration, and type of activity. Try short, intense workouts mixed with longer, slower workouts for variety. You can also try interval training once or twice a week to burn extra calories and boost your endurance.
For ideas, browse through some of the cardio workouts below and give one a try, modifying the workouts as needed to fit your fitness level and goals:calorie calculator.
Next Page: Your Strength Training Program