A forgiving and flexible fitness mentality—that is, doing any amount of exercise wherever and however possible—can be a productive and effective way to drop pounds. That’s why this book is packed with routines that give you plenty of options, based on your schedule, your mood, and what type of equipment you have (or don’t have).
But while free styling your way through weekly workouts may offer variety, it can also make it harder to develop a consistent routine—especially for beginners. Without a set plan, a daily commitment to hit the gym can quickly slide. For many women, the problem is finding a program they can get into.
Here’s how to do it: Complete three routines each week on nonconsecutive days, alternating between Workout A and Workout B (so A-B-A during the first week, B-A-B during the second week, etc.). For each workout, start with the first exercise and complete as many reps as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds; continue to the next exercise and repeat this pattern until you’ve completed each move. That’s 1 set. If you’re a beginner (or it has been longer than 2 months since you’ve last exercised), repeat just one more time for a total of 2 sets. If you’re more experienced, repeat three more times for a total of 4 sets. (It should take you about 20 minutes.)
After your sets, you’ll have the option of doing a high-intensity, 4-minute “after burn finisher.” Think of it like extra credit, and aim to complete this exercise after most workouts—even if you’re already tired. “It gives you a chance to stamp the exclamation point on a great workout—one more chance to throw an extra log on that metabolic furnace you’re trying to ignite,” says dos Remedioes. It also helps you mentally push past your limits and test what your body is capable of achieving. They’re super simple to complete: Do as many as you can in 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. That’s 1 set. Do 8 sets.
WEIGHT-LOSS WORKOUT A
DUMBBELL SKIER SWING / Hold a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Push your hips back and bring the weights behind you (A), then quickly thrust your hips forward and swing the dumbbells to shoulder height, squeezing your glutes and straightening your legs (B). That’s 1 rep; continue in a fluid, consistent motion.
DUMBBELL GOBLET SQUAT / Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell vertically in front of your chest, with both hands cupping the dumbbell head (A). Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor (B). Push yourself back to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
SUSPENDED PUSHUP / Secure a TRX or other suspension system, face away from the anchor point with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold both handles in front of your chest, arms extended (A). Bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the handles (performing a pushup), keeping a straight line from head to heels (B). Pause, then press back to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
DUMBBELL ROW / Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees bent, arms hanging straight down, palms facing each other; bend forward to lower your torso toward the floor (A). Pull Up your shoulder together and row the weights toward your chest (B). Return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
BODY SAW / Place your feet on Valslides and get into a pushup position, hands under your shoulders (A). (You can make the move easier by placing your forearms on the ground.) Keeping your body in a straight line from head to heels, push your feet away from you as far as you can (B). Pull back to the starting position, pressing through your palms. That’s 1 rep.
WEIGHT-LOSS WORKOUT B
JUMP SQUAT / Standing with your feet hip-width apart and keeping your chest up and core tight, sit your hips back to lower into a squat, raising your arms in front of you at shoulder height (A). Press through the heels in order to jump as high as you can off the ground, swinging your arms behind you (B). That’s 1 rep. Land very softlly and also lower into your next squat.
WALKING LUNGE / Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands on your hips (A). Step forward with your left leg and lower your body until both knees are bent 90 degrees (B). Press through your left heel and bring your right foot forward as you return to standing. That’s 1 rep. Repeat on the other side and continue alternating.
DUMBBELL PUSH PRESS / Hold a pair of dumbbells at shoulder height, palms facing each other, feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly (A), then stand and press the dumbbells overhead, straightening your arms completely (B). That’s 1 rep.
SUSPENDED ROW / secure a TRX or other suspension system and face the anchor point, holding both handles in front of your chest, arms straight, feet shoulder-width apart (A). Keep your shoulders back and bend your elbows to pull your body toward the anchor point (B). Pause, then slowly return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
» You can adjust the level of difficulty of this move by changing where you place your feet. As you walk your feet farther away from you, you will be pulling a higher percentage of your own body weight. (If you don’t have a TRx, you can use a squat rack or Smith machine.)
KEEP MAKING PROGRESS
There’s no limit to how long you can follow the program—and you’ll never hit a plateau. How’s that possible? “It’s very easy to quantify your results and see progress,” says Robert dos Remedios, CSCS, strength and conditioning director at the College of the Canyons. For example, after a few weeks of doing squat jumps, you will start to see a pattern in how many reps you can complete in 30 seconds. “As you get stronger and fitter, this number will increase. You can add intensity by either increasing the reps or the load—say, by using light dumbbells.”
The amount of weight you should use will vary from person to person, but as a general rule, dos Remedioes recommends using a tempo of 2 seconds per rep as a guide. So if you’re doing, let’s say, goblet squats, you should be getting in around 15 reps in 30 seconds. If you’re not even close to this number, decrease your weight and try to pick up the pace. If you’re busting out more like 20 reps, you should grab some heavier dumbbells. Regardless of how many pounds you’re hoisting, you should be struggling to finish the last few reps (especially toward the end of the circuit), but without losing proper form.
EATING FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Pack on the protein. the moments when you drop pounds, some of what you shed mainly is calorie burning muscle a loss that can slow your metabolism. One fix: Double your protein. a case Study participants who downed twice the daily recommended allowance lost same amount of weight—but much less muscle—as those who ate the RDA. Aim for 1.5 grams per 2 pounds of body weight per day to reap the results.
power up with protein. Start your day with eggs and ham. Having a larger serving of protein at breakfast makes you less likely to over-eat for the rest of the day, say researchers. Shoot for at least 20 grams.
Replace, don’t remove. Cutting the calories too drastically can let you feel taxing mentally and also physically. Instead what you can do is make one tweak during each meal to get more nutrients like healthy fats, fiber, and protein into your diet. It’s as simple as sprinkling your yogurt with flaxseed instead of granola at breakfast or adding a handful of fresh spinach to your pasta sauce at dinner.