Despite what your gym or the latest fitness craze might suggest, you can’t out-exercise or otherwise outrun a crappy diet. That’s why I ask clients to master diet before jumping on the fitness wagon. No one’s more pro-fitness than me, but if you’re not eliminating food intolerances, eating a low-sugar-impact diet, getting seven to nine hours of sleep, controlling stress, and supplementing smartly, your most Herculean fitness efforts will fail you.
Yet even while you’re mastering those fat-loss basics, you can gradually ease into a fitness routine. To become lean, muscular, and healthy, you need to work out smarter, not harder. Here’s the three-step plan I use with clients to develop an effective, sustainable fitness plan that burns fat, builds muscle, boosts metabolism, and gets you healthy.
1. Move more, period.
Complete exercise newbies should start with 60 total minutes of movement daily. Real exercise like elliptical machines or steppers count, but so does walking your dog, gardening, cleaning, parking far away from the grocery store door, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. A pedometer or smartphone app can help you know how many steps you’re getting.
2. Burst to build intensity.
Burst training becomes the best way to (literally) step up your workout. Studies show it optimizes fat burning and overall health. Intense becomes key here. You should be breathless and maxed-out after you complete 30 to 60 seconds of all-out, full-throttle bursts followed by twice-as-long active recovery. So you might do one minute of bursting, rest for two minutes, and repeat. Sprinting a park hill or bursting up a hotel stairwell are some of my favorite ways to do burst training.
3. Lift heavy.
Muscle becomes your metabolic Spanx to pull everything together so you look lean, toned, and fabulous. Ladies, you won’t become She-Ra lifting heavy dumbbells, so drop those wimpy pink weights and stop avoiding the weight room! To optimize weight training, incorporate these strategies:
- Warm up prior to lifting
- Divide workouts into four groups: upper-body pushing, upper-body pulling, hips and thighs, and power core
- Do three to five exercises per body group
- Focus on each body group at least two times a week
- Work in sets of 8 to 12 reps for optimal hypertrophy (muscle building)
- Lift the heaviest weight you can handle in good form
- Allow 60-second rests between sets
- Do multijoint free weight, body weight, or cable exercises
- Stretch in between sets or after your workout
- Allow 48 hours of recovery for each body group
Determine where you’re at and get moving. Especially if you’ve been sedentary or have specific health concerns, please consult your doctor before undergoing an exercise program. Remember that every move counts. Walking is perfect for beginners. Track your steps and challenge yourself with specific quotas.
For more advanced folks, burst training combined with weight resistance becomes my favorite efficient, effective workout. You can get lean and toned in less time than it takes to find a gym parking spot on a Saturday afternoon. I've combined burst training and weight resistance with my Fast Blasts, which provide an intense, full-body workout in just eight minutes, in the comfort of your home, with minimal equipment. (Grab a FREE one here: https://getjjvirgin.com/fastblastworkouts.)
Whether you’re a weekend warrior or devoted yogi, what’s your favorite kind of exercise? How do you mix things up when your routine becomes stale or stagnating? Share your thoughts below.