To shed the pounds and start building that new, toned body of yours you need two things: Cardio and Weights. Cardio is what you do to get your heart beating faster and the blood swooshing through your system at a higher than normal speed. This includes things like jogging and cycling, but also aerobic exercises and yoga. Weights is what we lift. Yes - you have to lift! And no - it won’t make you look like a bodybuilder. Trust me!
I’m going to post Rephaim’s workout plan here, and then I will come back and explain how to make it tailor made for you. Please, don’t panic and give up! Just read through the plan and then we’ll focus on you:
Day 1 Weight Heavy
- Focus on back and arms, e.g. rows, bench, OHP and shrugs.
- 5 sets of 5 as heavy as you can. Take as much rest as you need between sets, you should feel as if life hates you when you’re done and ‘Oh god, why did I ever do this!?’
- Try and focus on two or three major exercises and about 2 or so accessory exercises.
- Good main exercises include, rows (any variation), OHP, Bench, Shrugs (heavy), Skullcrushers, dips and pullovers (movement, not the garment!).
- Good accessory exercises include sit ups (light), hyperextensions/good mornings (light), tricep extensions/kickbacks, bicep curls (varying grips), hip thrusts.
Day 2 Cardio Light
- Just some easy movements to keep your blood flowing through your muscles, you’ll be very achey and quite fatigued which is normal. This is not so much exercise as it is a means of improving recovery. A 30-60 minute walk is good or some casual swimming.
- Do NOT stress your muscles more than needed, stretching may help if you’re feeling stiff but try and keep it dynamic rather than static. Maybe a nice massage?
Day 3 Weight Light
- Today is about reinforcing form and continuing recovery before the next heavy session. Homeostasis needs to return to normal. Any workload should be at least 10-15% under your max on the Heavy day, and the sets should all be reduced. Reps can be as normal. Accessory exercises can be done heavier than normal.
- Good main exercises include rows, incline bench, shrugs, lat pulldowns/pull ups.
- Good accessory exercises include sit ups (heavy), hyperextensions/good mornings (heavy), hip thrusts.
Day 4 Cardio Heavy
- Here’s your ‘heavy’ or intense cardio day! This is where you try and beat your heart and lungs into submission! Try and keep it short but intense, and then warm up and cool down during 10 minute periods to not die of shock!
- HIIT training is perfect for this, can be done in any way that increases your heart rate and breathing. Sustained high intensity cardio obviously works as well and may be better to start with.
Day 5 Weight Medium
- Medium day is about prodding your achey muscles with a stick to make sure they keep behaving, and to enforce the neuromuscular movements required for training. Keep it short but sweet, just in between the heavy and light day, you should be tired and fatigued, but not wishing for the sweet release of death.
- Since we can’t train your legs like this, we’ll continue to focus on the muscles you need for mobility and good health, so once again, rows, bench, OHP and shrugs are our top picks for today! Intensity should be under the Heavy days levels, but sets and reps should be the same. Enough to make sure that you employ all the muscle you would need for the Heavy day.
- Accessory exercises should be kept to a minimum here as you will now need to save your energy and recuperative ability for the next Heavy day. However, you can easily sneak one or two in there. I’d recommend some biceps, shoulders and lower back/glute work.
Day 6 Cardio Medium
- Just your average cardio day, put yourself through your paces with some sustained cardio training, I’d avoid HIIT as you don’t want any fatigue building up for the next Heavy weight day. Swimming, fast paced walk and some fun wheeling about should do you good!
Day 7 Rest!
- My favourite day! Warm showers/baths, massage, light movements to keep your blood flow going through your muscle to aid recovery. Lots of water and warm coziness.
Right, there you have it. This is the goal! This is where you could be in a year’s time. Or sooner, depending on where you are right now. And this is an excellent starting point for anyone getting ready to dip their toes into the fitness pool. And a fab manual for anyone ready to up the steaks and start challenging themselves.
If you already are relatively fit and just planning to step it up from now on - you are on your own now. I think you’ve got this! But if you are a newbie not yet convinced that you can do this, you wanna hang on to me a little longer. And focus on two days each week. The Rest Day (!) and the Light Cardio day. I want you to focus on rest day to get you in the habit of considering one day each week your self pampering day. This day is your reward for having exercised and maintained a healthy diet for a week. Rest day is pay day. Not in money or food, but in lovely treats. This can be a day at a spa or a spa day at home. A day at the cinema or a cinema day at home. In other words, it can be as costly or as cheap as you want/need it to be. But it has to be special and the day when you do things just for you. For me, a rest day often involves candles, tea, soft yoga, naps, books and/or films.
Light Cardio day is your first step into the exercise part of this new lifestyle. This day you need to do somewhere between 10 and 60 minutes of, as the name suggests, light cardio. It might be easiest to pick just one thing to do, but if you prefer you can make a list of suggested activities, then just pick one each Light Cardio day. Just remember - this is one day a week and you are not supposed to feel like you’ve run a marathon. Try going for a walk. Dance in the living room. Buy an exercise DVD and play around on the floor (don’t forget to draw the curtains! lol). Play wii fit or kinect. Go for a light swim. Hop on a bicycle. Do just one of them or try to go through a few different ones. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we have take-off.
When you feel ready to work out more than once a week, it is time to add day two: Light Weights. And again - yes, you have to lift! The good news is that you don’t need a gym to lift weights. I mean, if you want, and can afford, to go to one then that’s great. But you can just as easily stay at home and get the same exercise done. You just need a little creative thinking. Weights is about lifting stuff, but “stuff” doesn’t have to come in the shape of round metal discs attached to some kind of bar. It can just as well be a book, a bottle filled with something, a piece of furniture from a chair to a couch, household appliances, children or pets. To name but a few.
Initially, there is no need for these two days to be consecutive. But Light Cardio day should come before Light Weights day. And Light Weights day should come before Medium Cardio day which you will introduce to your programme when you feel like you could cope with a third workout day in the week. It’s not a competition, so take all the time you need. But don’t hold back and do something half-arsed - you deserve better than that!
By following this principle you can go from a 10-minute workout each week to six weekly two-hour sessions in your own pace, by picking routines that suit you and work on endurance by making them last longer and strength by making them heavier.
And if you need any help coming up with suitable routines, you can find a good starting selection here.