We get it. Between your day job, your family, and your social life, your to-do list is never-ending. That’s why you’ve spent exactly zero time prepping for the debut of your brand-new bikini. Until now. The sun is shining, and the beach is calling. Your visions of a beach vacation have you suddenly switching up your priorities and lean towards weight loss.
If you haven’t exactly been committed to your workouts during the cold months of winter, we understand. The good news is, with some dedication, you can make a real difference in how your body looks in just a few weeks.
It won’t be easy, but our ultimate guide to weight loss will have you feeling more toned and energized in 21 days. How? By revving up your metabolism, boosting your nutrition, and committing to an intense, highly effective, yet totally doable, exercise regimen. Let’s get started!
Week One to Weight Loss
Your first step to successful weight loss is to rev up your metabolism, and that means working those muscles. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest. Your goal this week is four days of strength training and three days of cardio on the alternating days. This routine will build your muscle strength up quickly and get your body ready to go to work.
i. Strength Training Objectives This Week
You’ll want to use heavier weights and do fewer reps to build up your muscles fast. Don’t worry about bulking up because you’ll only be doing this for a short time. Your goal is to be able to complete eight reps with proper form, then add a little more weight and do only five reps your next set. This will keep your muscles challenged and get them toned up in no time.
ii. Fuel Up
Insulin levels can drop suddenly when you exercise, especially when you’re in cardio mode. This can trigger the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that breaks down muscle and contributes to belly fat retention. Keeping your glucose levels stable is essential for regulating insulin levels. Sipping on a sports drink with electrolytes while you exercise is a great way to keep your glucose levels stable throughout your workout.
iii. Take Advantage of the Magic Window
The “magic window” is the 45 minutes immediately following your workout. During this time, your body metabolizes nutrients most efficiently. Your metabolism is revved up from the exercise and if you give your body the right fuel, it will continue to burn calories and build muscle longer. Soy protein meal replacement shakes are ideal because they contain protein to help build muscle while providing vital nutrients to replenish your energy levels.
iv. Meal Planning
Every meal should be a mix of lean protein, complex carbs, fruits or vegetables, and healthy fats. You need a variety of whole foods to keep your body fueled and satiated. Whenever you eat from just one food group or cut out certain food groups, you’re more likely to give in to cravings and binge eating. And don’t shy away from healthy fats! They’ll help you feel full and satisfied longer so you won’t consume as many calories from other foods.
Week Two – Extend Your Sessions
Moving into week two, it’s time to maximize your metabolism. You’re going to keep doing what you did in week one, but this week you’re going to swap out one of your strength training sessions for a cardio workout to burn more calories.
v. Add Intervals
Your cardio sessions this week should include intervals to increase the intensity and rev up your metabolism even more. Instead of jogging at a steady pace, sprint for one minute, then walk or jog for one minute. Or incorporate squats, crunches, and pushups into your intervals to keep things interesting and tone muscles faster. Or, try a cycling app to incorporate intervals and variety into your cycling workout.
vi. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Staying hydrated is essential for good metabolism. Dehydration can actually slow your resting metabolism while drinking 12 glasses of water can raise it. Drinking lemon water is found to be more beneficial for health. Staying hydrated will also help you stay energized and motivated, so keep a reusable water bottle with you all the time and refill it often.
vii. Intensify Your Strength Training Sessions, Too
When you rest in between weightlifting sets, keep your heart rate up by doing something active. If you’re working your arms that day, do some lunges between sets. If it’s leg day, do push ups. Or do crunches to work your core.
viii. Get Plenty of Rest
By now you’re really feeling it. You’re working your body hard, so you need to prioritize a full eight hours of sleep each night. Growth hormones are released while you sleep, too, so that’s when your muscles are building and toning. If you feel like you need more rest in the middle of the week, switch up one of your cardio workouts for a long walk or an easy jog instead of doing intervals.
Week Three – Burn em’ Calories
During week three, your goal is to burn as many calories as possible. Most of your routine will remain the same, but you’re going to swap out another weightlifting session for high-intensity cardio. By now you’ve toned up your muscles, so incorporating more cardio will help you burn more calories and drop the weight faster.
ix. Intensify Your Intervals
This week, you’re going to add intensity to your intervals by adding resistance. Find a hill that you can sprint up and then walk down. Do a five-minute warm-up, and then complete five intervals. If you’re working out indoors, you can simply increase the incline on the treadmill.
You can also switch things up and burn more calories by doing tempo runs, which are simply longer intervals. Do five minutes of high-intensity running, followed by five minutes of jogging. Repeat four times. This will keep your metabolism revved up longer after your workout.
Moving Forward into Week Four and Beyond
Now that you’ve completed 21 days of intense exercise and focused on eating a variety of healthy food, you should be noticing some pretty decent weight loss and increased muscle tone. Your metabolism is revved up so that you’re burning more calories at rest, and you’ve got a lot more energy to work out than you had before.
Now, it’s time to reassess. You’ll want to continue doing intervals and strength training but add in one or two rest and recovery days each week. Be sure to switch things up every week to keep your body guessing and boost your fat-burning capacity.
Leading an active, healthy lifestyle and following a varied, whole-food diet are the best ways to keep weight off and energy levels up for the long haul. Now is your chance to break free of the seasonal weight loss/weight gain cycle. Use this plan as a springboard to set you on the road to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight for the rest of your life.
We hope our ultimate guide to weight loss will inspire you to achieve your health and fitness. Stay tuned for more health guides!