Fitness Challenge - 4 Weeks To A Better Body
A fitness challenge is a good way to jump start your journey toward better health. Whether you're a beginner or an avid fitness enthusiast, adding a new challenge will wake up your muscles and help them respond better to your efforts.
If you’re looking to take a little off the middle or the butt & thighs, you should be aware that there is no such thing as spot reduction. You put the weight on proportionately all over your body, and it will have to come off the same way.
What you can do is target specific areas and tone them up as you lose the weight - hence, the fitness challenge.
People who follow a proper eating plan to lose weight will be successful but if they don’t exercise the end result will be a slimmer body with a lot of saggy areas. Exercise helps build and tone the muscle under the layers of fat so that when the fat melts away, you’re left with toned volume under the skin.
To accomplish this, the first thing you need to include in your weekly fitness challenge is a bit of cardio. Interval training works best as this combines cardiovascular fitness with fat burning. Performing some sort of interval training three times a week will get you on the road to fat loss without shocking your system. If you’re not used to exercising or you’re carrying a lot of weight on your frame, try walking on a treadmill. Your goal is to walk for 1 minute on a level plane then walk for one minute on an incline. Continue alternating back and forth until you’ve performed 40 minutes of exercise. As you improve your cardiovascular fitness, you can increase your speed and incline until you’re walking at a brisk pace on an incline of 1.5 for 1 minute and jogging or running on an incline of 2.5 for 1 minute, for a total of 45 minutes. If you don’t have access to a treadmill, find a hill in your neighbourhood and perform hill intervals – either a fast walk, jog, or run up the hill and a normal walk down. Bring a stop watch with you to make sure you’re still performing 1 minute intervals.
The scientific approach to intervals is to wear a heart rate monitor and perform intervals using a 50/80 split. What this means is that you perform your fat burning intervals (the easy walk) at 50% of maximum heart rate and your cardio intervals (the fast walk/jog/run) at 80% of maximum heart rate, for 1 minute each until you reach your 40-45 minute total. If your heart rate gets too high during your cardio interval, just slow down a bit and if your heart rate goes below 50% of max HR during your easy walk, then speed up to keep it in the 50-55% range.
To find your maximum heart rate, use the following basic formula:
220 – age = Max HR
Once you understand how to perform your interval training, the next step is to add some resistance training to your weekly fitness challenge. This will build and tone your muscles to get them ready for their big reveal.
If you’re new to resistance training, the key is to start off with a little bit of muscle toning and work your way up. Try splitting your body into three parts and performing two exercises per part. As an example, let’s use upper body, lower body, and mid-section as your three parts. Note: this is a gentle, beginner’s guide to resistance training – intermediate and advanced lifters already know what to do. Your weekly resistance routine will be performed twice a week on the days you’re not doing interval training. Because it’s a beginner’s guide, I’m giving you exercises that you can perform anywhere and in a short period of time.
Fitness Challenge - Week 1:
Perform interval cardio training three times this week.
Resistance Training for week 1 - performed twice a week on the days you're not doing interval training
- Upper body – 3 sets of push-ups and 3 sets of pullovers for a total of 12 repetitions each set
- Lower body – 3 sets of squats and 3 sets of lunges for a total of 12 repetitions each set
- Mid-section – 3 sets of planks, holding for 30 seconds each set, and 3 sets of bicycle crunches with pilates variation for 12 repetitions each set
This is enough to get any beginner started in a resistance training program without overwhelming them and still provides enough of a challenge for regular exercisers. It's all in the amount of weight you use and how hard you push yourself.
Be patient and commit to the program for 6 weeks. If you’re new to resistance training you won’t see dramatic changes in your muscle tone before this time as neuromuscular development takes 4-6 weeks to occur.
If you’re already a regular exerciser and don't want to deviate from your current workout routine, please see the list below for a few extra exercises to work into your routine to target the mid-section and the butt & thighs as part of your overall fitness program.
- Planks – four point (elbows & toes) or three point (one foot on top of the other) front plank or side planks
- Crunches – basic front crunch, bicycle crunch, kneeling crunch with overhead cable, side twisting crunch, crunches on an exercise ball, crunches on a BOSU
- V-sits – on a mat, hands over head (advanced exercise)
- Knee-ups – hanging knee-ups or knee-ups at the edge of a bench
- Abdominal rollouts – using a barbell or ab roller
Butt & Thighs:
- Plié squats – with or without weights, standing or walking forward and back
- Crab walks – with or without weights
- Butt bridges – with or without weights, standard movement or frog leg combo
- Lunges – with or without weights, standing forward lunges, standing backward lunges, walking lunges
- Step-ups – with or without weights, on a sturdy platform
Beginners: please click on the
Fitness Challenge Details
page for a full description on how to perform each of the upper, lower, and mid-section exercises discussed on this page.
Fitness Challenge - Week 2:
Continue with your interval cardio training three times this week and try to increase your speed during the high cardio intervals. Please refer to the information in Week 1 above, if you require further details.
Resistance Training for week 2 - performed twice a week on the days you're not doing interval training
- Upper Body - 3 sets of bent over rows and 3 sets of chest flyes for a total of 12 repetitions each set
- Lower Body - 3 sets of walking plie squats and 3 sets of walking lunges for a total of 20 steps (10 steps per foot) for each set
- Mid-section - 3 sets of gliding straddles for 12 repetitions each set and 3 sets of spiderman crawls for a total of 20 steps for each set
Fitness Challenge - Week 3:
Continue with your interval cardio training three times this week and try to increase your incline during the high cardio intervals. Please refer to the information in Week 1 above, if you require further details.
Resistance training for week 3 - performed twice a week on the days you're not doing interval training
- Upper Body - back to the push-ups, 3 sets, and around-the-worlds, 3 sets, for a total of 12 repetitions each set
- Lower Body - 3 sets of butt bridges with a frog leg combo for a total of 12 repetitions per set and 3 sets of reverse lunge & lifts for a total of 10 repetitions each leg
- Mid-section - 3 sets of ab roll-outs and 3 sets of Russian twists for a total of 12 repetitions per set
Fitness Challenge - Week 4:
Continue with your interval cardio training three times this week. By now you should be able to increase both your intensity/speed and incline during the high cardio intervals. Please refer to the information in Week 1 above, if you require further details.
Resistance training for week 4 - performed twice per week on the days you're not doing interval training
- Upper Body - 3 sets of tricep dips and 3 sets of standing shoulder presses for a total of 12 repetitions per set
- Lower Body - 3 sets of step ups and 3 sets of crab walks for a total of 10 repetitions per leg per set
- Mid-section - 3 sets of push ups to side plank and 3 sets of front planks with alternating knee raises for a total of 10 repetitions per set
That's all there is to it. Continue with the fitness challenge for an additional two weeks, repeating week one and week two to complete a six week cycle.
Fitness Challenge Details
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The contents of this site are the opinions of Michele Tse unless otherwise noted. The information on this site is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical or nutritional advice or treatment. Please consult your health care practitioner before beginning any fitness program.