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Shape Up in 6 Months

Use this simple month-by-month plan as a guideline for your workouts. You'll find all levels of exercise, and reap all the benefits. The program uses two-week cycles, so if six months sounds too long, just take it two weeks at a time. The best part? No gym membership required!

    Fitness Checklist

    Cardiovascular workouts, like walking or jogging, can be done anywhere. Just make sure you have the following:
    • Comfortable clothes
    • Running shoes
    • Two 3- or 5-pound hand weights
    • A straight-back chair
    • A mat or blanket (optional)

    Month 1

    This month, you should mainly focus on just getting active and engaged in the program. A good way to get motivated is to start a workout diary. Include the date, the reasons why you need to work out, and your personal goals. Write down your weight (always weigh yourself in the morning for consistency), and, using a measuring tape, record the size of your chest, waist, hips, thighs, and forearms, so you can monitor your progress. To stay motivated, keep notes all the way through.

    Tip:
    Weigh in and take measurements just once a month. Focusing on quick results will only discourage you.

    Weeks #1 and #2
    • 20 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
    Weeks #3 and #4
    • 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week

    Month 2

    Still here? Good work! Now, get out that measuring tape and scale. Any improvements? You shouldn't focus too much on weight loss yet, but your energy level should be higher. Keep writing in your workout diary, and pay special attention to how you feel, how you're dealing with stress, and what you think you're gaining from your exercise program.
    Tip: Remember to check your pulse about 15 minutes into aerobic exercise to make sure you're hitting your target heart rate.

    Weeks #5 and #6
    • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
    • 2 sets of 10 stomach crunches
    • 1 set of 10 push-ups
    Weeks #7 and #8
    • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
    • 3 sets of 10 stomach crunches
    • 2 sets of 10 push-ups

    Month 3

    This is usually when people start to give up. Get out your diary, and flip back to your first entry. Remind yourself why you are doing this. Then, flip ahead in your calendar and see how quickly your wedding day is approaching: Aren't you glad you started exercising weeks ago? Weigh yourself and take your measurements again. Are you making progress? Even if you haven't lost weight, you should see some results in your muscle tone.

    Good to know:
    Muscle weighs more than fat, so you might have gained a few pounds, but you've most likely turned some of that fat into muscle.

    Weeks #9 and #10
    • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
    • 3 sets of 10 stomach crunches
    • 2 sets of 10 push-ups
    • 1 set of 10 squats
    Weeks #11 and #12
    • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
    • 3 sets of 10 stomach crunches
    • 3 sets of 10 push-ups
    • 2 sets of 10 squats
    • 2 sets of 10 bicep curls
    • 2 sets of 10 tricep curls

    Month 4

    Take a minute to write a note of congratulations to yourself -- you're doing an amazing job (we know it sounds cheesy, but do it anyway). Weigh yourself and take your measurements: If you've been following the program, you should definitely notice some changes by now.
    Good to know: At this point, if nothing has changed, you may need a more advanced program, and you should consult a personal trainer.

    Weeks #13 and #14
    • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
    • 3 sets of 15 stomach crunches
    • 3 sets of 15 push-ups
    • 3 sets of 15 squats
    • 3 sets of 15 bicep curls
    • 3 sets of 15 tricep curls
    • 2 sets of 10 chest presses
    Weeks #15 and #16
    • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
    • 3 sets of 15 stomach crunches
    • 3 sets of 15 push-ups
    • 3 sets of 15 squats
    • 3 sets of 15 bicep curls
    • 3 sets of 15 tricep curls
    • 3 sets of 15 chest presses

    Month 5

    Okay, now it's time to get serious: There are only eight weeks to go until your 6-month plan is complete. Weigh in and take your measurements. Now, where do you still need the most help? Stomach? Thighs? Butt? Pick one or two areas, and focus, focus, focus. You're going to continue along the same program, but now you'll add an intense three sets of 15 extra exercises for whichever area still needs help. With every crunch, envision yourself in your gown -- you'll get there.

    Weeks #17 and #18
    • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
    • 3 sets of 15 stomach crunches
    • 3 sets of 15 push-ups
    • 3 sets of 15 squats
    • 3 sets of 15 bicep curls
    • 3 sets of 15 tricep curls
    • 3 sets of 15 chest presses
    • 3 sets of 15 "extra target area"
    Weeks #19 and #20
    • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
    • 3 sets of 15 stomach crunches
    • 3 sets of 15 push-ups
    • 3 sets of 15 squats
    • 3 sets of 15 bicep curls
    • 3 sets of 15 tricep curls
    • 3 sets of 15 chest presses
    • 3 sets of 15 "extra target area"

    Month 6

    Just four weeks to go! As you get closer to the end of the plan, don't let excuses get in the way -- you're in the home stretch! Weigh in and take your measurements, but don't be surprised if they aren't as important anymore -- the way you feel should be motivation enough to keep exercising. We are going to continue working at the same level as last month. If you're having trouble finding the time to keep up this pace, cut back the number of sets you do, but use heavier weights.

    Weeks #21 and #22
    • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
    • 3 sets of 15 stomach crunches
    • 3 sets of 15 push-ups
    • 3 sets of 15 squats
    • 3 sets of 15 bicep curls
    • 3 sets of 15 tricep curls
    • 3 sets of 15 chest presses
    • 3 sets of 15 "extra target area"
    Weeks #23 and #24
    • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
    • 3 sets of 15 stomach crunches
    • 3 sets of 15 push-ups
    • 3 sets of 15 squats
    • 3 sets of 15 bicep curls
    • 3 sets of 15 tricep curls
    • 3 sets of 15 chest presses
    • 3 sets of 15 "extra target area"


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