One of the fastest ways to lose weight and gain muscle tone is to alternate your cardio and weight training workouts. Choose challenging, 45-minute fat-shredding routines to keep your muscles and metabolism guessing. Partner your five-day routine with healthy eating and you'll see results within two weeks.
Select Your Routine
Choosing the right routine is almost as important as completing the exercise. You'll want to do cardio and strength training exercises that will keep you engaged, interested and challenged—otherwise you won't do it. Try a mixture of routines where you train inside the house, outside, at the gym and even in the pool.
Two of the easiest cardio routines are running and speed walking. However, some people don’t enjoy running or have injuries that prevent them from doing so. Other cardio includes rowing, swimming, cycling, aerobic dance, elliptical training and boxing. Because most cardio routines are repetitive, incorporate interval training (also called sprinting) throughout your routine to boost weight loss. Sprinting challenges you to push yourself harder for a specific amount of time, then drop back down to a steady pace for a while before pushing yourself again. Change the length of your training intervals for the best weight loss results (see References).
On the days you aren’t doing cardio, concentrate on strength training. Strength training is important because it conditions muscles to incinerate fat more efficiently. You'll burn more calories even when you're not working out because solid muscle tissue burns up to 50 calories per pound.
Weight lifting is one of the most obvious forms of strength training but you can also explore Pilates, yoga, boot camp training or another cardio routine, such as speed walking with weights.
Your week consists of five days of exercise and two days of rest. Plan to workout two days in a row, take off the following day, then workout the next two days. Take off one more day, then finish with one last strong workout at the end of the week.
You can alter which exercise you begin with, but be sure you always rotate between cardio and weights to allow your muscles to repair between workouts.
Start your week with a 45 minute cardio run outdoors. For the first day, aim to complete the entire run at a brisk but steady pace. Day two is strength training, so try completing a yoga DVD such as Mark Blanchard’s Progressive Power Yoga or lift weights for up to 60 minutes. If you choose to lift weights, the easiest way to hit multiple muscle groups is to use a weight lifting manual, such as The Body Sculpting Bible for Men by James Villepigue and Hugo A. Rivera (the authors have another book by the same name for women). Another way to maximize your workout is to purchase a weight training DVD such as Jackie Warner’s Workout or Jillian Michael’s No More Trouble Zones weight training workouts.
Rest on day three and then begin day four with another cardio routine. You can choose to try either another cardio exercise or and interval workout with the same workout as day one. If you choose to interval train, spend shorter times doing energy burst and longer times at a steady pace. For example, if you are running, run to the point where you can’t carry on a conversation for one minute, and then drop down to a steady pace for four minutes.
Day five is another strength routine. Use the same weights as you did on day two and either do the same DVD or strength workout, or try another strength training workout.
Rest on day six and then do a cardio blast on day seven. This is the perfect day to kick up interval training. Increase your fast paced time to two minutes and keep a steady pace for only three minutes during the entire 45 minute workout. Even though this is the most intense cardio day of the week, you’ll notice that your body is stronger and more capable to handle the intensity. Go back to day one with strength building and continue alternating the days.
Beyond Five Days
A five day routine will kick-start your weight loss process; however, to continue losing weight and toning muscles, you will need to change your routine every few months. It takes approximately four to six weeks for your body to adapt to a workout routine, which means that your muscle tone and weight loss efforts could plateau. Create muscle confusion by trying a new cardio routine or adding more weight to your training program. For example, if you’ve been running for your cardio workout, try cycling or aerobic dance for a few months. Introduce yoga as a new strength routine if you’ve been only lifting weights.
Maintain the same weekly program for another two to three months, and then introduce something new.