Summer is practically here, and whether you like it or not, it’s time to unearth your shorts, tank tops, swimsuits, and sandals from the hole you threw them into last year and start airing them out. Regardless of how you feel about your body right now, no one should spend the hottest months of the year covered in layers of shame (aka jeans and long-sleeved shirts). That’s a recipe for heat stroke, folks.
The good news is, if you’re feeling self-conscious about your less-than-muscular midsection, you still have three weeks until summer’s official start date. It may not be enough time for a six-pack miracle (who decided six-packs were that great, anyway?), but with a little dedication and commitment, you’ll be well on your shorts-clad way to feeling damn sexy in your summer wardrobe.
Your workout schedule
When you’re working against time, scheduling frequent workouts is one of the best ways to see physical changes quickly. For the next three weeks you’re going to carve out time for five workouts a week as well as an active rest day involving low-intensity activity.
I know, it’s a lot.
The good news is, these aren’t all long or intense training sessions, so even if you’ve been a sloth all winter and spring, you can comfortably get started. A quick note on safety, though. Some of the exercises in the provided workouts are high intensity and involve jumping movements. You can always make these exercises easier and more accessible by removing the jump and stepping them out.
- June 1st: 60-minute moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio. You pick your poison -- walking, jogging, biking, rowing, or swimming (hey, might as well get used to donning your swimsuit, right?).
- June 2nd: 10-minute HIIT workout and 10-minute ab routine
- June 3rd: Active rest day incorporating a 10-20-minute low-intensity walk and 10 minutes stretching or foam rolling
- June 4th: 25-minute dumbbell circuit (workout #2 from this article)
- June 5th: 60-minute moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio
- June 6th: 15-minute bodyweight workout and 10-minute ab routine
- June 7th: Rest day
- June 8th: 45-minute moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio and 10-minute ab routine
- June 9th: 20-minute, four-exercise Tabata workout (workout #1 from this article)
- June 10th: Active rest day incorporating 20 minutes of low-intensity walking and 10 minutes stretching or foam rolling
- June 11th: 45-minute moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio and 10-minute ab routine
- June 12th: 30-minute high-intensity circuit workout
- June 13th: 45-minute moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio and 10-minute ab routine
- June 14th: Rest day
- June 15th: 23-minute, four-move round-robin workout (workout #4 in this article) followed by 30 minutes of moderate-intensity steady-state cardio
- June 16th: 10-minute HIIT workout followed by a 10-minute ab routine
- June 17th: Active rest day incorporating 20 minutes low-intensity walking and 10 minutes stretching or foam rolling
- June 18th: 30-minute, four-exercise core killer (workout #3 in this article) followed by 20 minutes of moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio
- June 19th: 10-minute HIIT workout followed by a 10-minute ab routine
- June 20th: 15-minute bodyweight workout followed by 30 minutes of steady-state moderate-intensity cardio
- June 21st: Summer’s here! Strip down and enjoy the heat.
It's time to stop eating everything
Dietary needs vary so greatly from person to person that I won’t even begin to try to provide a standardized eating program. Besides, that’s out of my scope. What I will offer are a few easy changes you can make to your eating habits that can make a serious difference when it comes to leaning out.
1. Stop eating everything. Seriously. Food is delicious and necessary, but if you regularly go back for seconds, or mindlessly munch on chips while sitting at your desk (yes, I’m talking to you), stop. Take five minutes to think about when you tend to overeat and come up with a plan to adjust your behavior. For instance, clear out the snack drawer in your office, commit to taking a sabbatical from eating in front of the TV, and no matter how delicious the lasagna was, always let your first serving sit in your belly for at least 15 minutes before you decide to go back for seconds.
2. Start every meal with a vegetable. Starting every meal with a veggie is beneficial in many ways. First, who doesn’t need to eat more veggies? They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and when your body gets the nutrients it needs, your metabolism is more likely to function at optimum speeds. Second, the combination of high water and fiber content and low calorie density means veggies fill you up without overstocking your calorie tank. When you start your meals with vegetables, you’re more likely to eat fewer total calories, which is a boon for fat loss.
3. Sip on water all day long. Go buy yourself a new water bottle, because this tip is important. Even low levels of dehydration can negatively affect your body’s metabolism, which means you’ll burn fewer calories, feel more sluggish, and have a harder time getting through your workouts. How is any of that worthwhile? Aim to drink at least two liters of water a day, and check the toilet after you pee. If your urine is pale yellow, you’re probably doing a pretty good job of staying hydrated. Plus, if you’re constantly getting up and down to go to the bathroom all day, that’s extra activity. Every little bit counts, right?
4. Skip the liquid calories. Yes, even beer. It’s just for three weeks, OK? Stick to black coffee, unsweetened tea, and water. You’d be surprised how many calories you can cut from your diet by following this one tip. And if you’re worried your social life will take a nosedive without weekly happy hours, limit yourself to one night out a week. Your waistline and your liver will thank you.
5. Stick to eating real food. And no, Cheetos don’t count. If you can’t track a food’s origins immediately back to a specific plant and/or animal, then it probably shouldn’t be going in your body. Lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains in their most natural form, and full-fat dairy (in moderation) are all on the “yes” list.
Will you look like a professional bodybuilder if you follow this plan? No, of course not -- remember, you're the person who waited until there were three weeks before summer to start thinking about getting in shape. You should generally stay active and eat well year round, most of the time.
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