The pressure’s on! Just a few months to go until summer. Once the heat hits, it'll be shirts off and bathing suits on... Based on a balance of cardio, weights, and nutrition, we’ve devised the ultimate 12-week plan to help you shed unwanted pounds.
YOUR FAIL-SAFE STRATEGY
This plan limits each training session to just 60 minutes. You’ll combine full-body workouts with short, sharp interval-training sessions.
Repeat this workout 3-4 times a week, or alternate between the workouts listed in the MORE WORKOUT OPTIONS section.
THE WEIGHT LIFTING PRINCIPLES
Follow these golden rules to build muscle and strength while burning fat:
- Use a weight that’s 80% of the maximum weight you can lift, push, or press.
- Do just one set of every exercise, with 8-12 reps.
- Once you can do 12 reps without challenge, add 5% more weight.
- Take 4 seconds to raise the weight and 4 seconds to lower it.
- If the routine takes more than 60 minutes, pick up the pace.
- Do 3-4 workouts a week, leaving a day’s rest between each one.
- Do cardio AFTER lifting.
- Don’t rest between sets. The set-up time for a new exercise is enough.
- Push out the reps until failure or until form starts to break.
Works: quads, glutes
A) Place a barbell on a squat rack at about upper chest level. Grab the bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, duck underneath it, and rest the bar across the backs of your shoulders. Lift the bar off the rack and step back. Tense your abs and keep your back straight.
B) Slowly bend your knees until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Pause, then press yourself back up into a standing position.
Works: quads, glutes, lower back, absA) Stick a loaded barbell on the ground in front of you. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend at your knees and hips to bring your upper body towards the weights. Grab them with an overhand grip.
B) Use your thighs to raise the bar so your legs become straight. Take 2-4 seconds to lower the weights back to the start position keeping your back straight throughout.
Works: hamstring, glutesA) Lie on the hamstring machine with your ankles under the pads and your torso pressed flat on the platform.
B) Bend your legs to curl the pad up until it touches your glutes. Take 3-4 seconds to lower the pad to the start.
Works: back, biceps, lower back, forearms
A) Go to the seated rows machine and attach the double D handle. Grip the handles with your palms facing each other.
B) Pull the handle to a point just below your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position. Maintain a straight back throughout the movement.
Works: chest, triceps, shouldersA) Lie on a flat bench holding a dumbbell in each hand above you at arm’s length. Keep your head, torso, and hips pressed onto the bench.
B) Bend your elbows to take 2-3 seconds to lower the dumbbells to either side of your chest. Pause then straighten your elbows to press the weights up. Don't lock your elbows at the top of the move.
Standing dumbbell shoulder press
Works: shoulders, absA) Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Hoist the dumbbells up so they’re either side of your head.
B) Straighten your arms to push the weights above your head. Do not lock your elbows at the top of the movement. Now slowly lower your arms to the start position.
Parallel bar dips
Works: Muscles: chest, triceps, shoulders
A) Grab the parallel bars of a dip station and lift yourself so your body weight rests on your hands. Keep your arms straight but not locked.
B) Keep your elbows close to your sides and lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the floor then press yourself back up.
Seated dumbbell bicep curl
Works: bicepsA) Sit with on a bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forwards. Keep your upper arms tucked against your sides, and your shoulder blades pulled together.
B) Bend your elbows to curl the weight up until the weight reaches your shoulders. Contract your biceps, then reverse the motion and slowly return to the starting position.
Triceps pull downs
Works: tricepsA) Attach a straight bar to the high pulley of cable crossover machine so it rests at just below your chest. Hold the bar with a shoulder-width overhand grip.
B) Tuck your elbows to your sides and push the bar towards the floor until your arms are completely straight. Tense your triceps then slowly release the bar back to the start position.
Works: shoulders, trapsA) Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Keep a slight bend in your elbows with your palms facing each other.
B) Raise your arms straight out to your sides. Imagine you are holding two jugs of water, so don't tilt your wrists forward. Stop when the weights are even with the tops of your shoulders. Pause, then lower them along the same path.
A) Lie with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
B) Lift your upper body by using your abs to flex your spine thus bringing your chest towards your knees. Roll back down, slowly and with control.
MORE WORKOUT OPTIONS
POST WEIGHTS CARDIO
Choose a cardio machine (rowing, cycling, treadmill etc.) and do one of these sessions after each workout. Pick a new session after each workout to keep your muscles guessing and adapting to the new stimulus
Work (secs) Rest (secs) Sets
Session 1 30 60 8
Session 2 20 40 10
Session 3 10 20 12
Session 4 35 15 8
Session 5 40 40 5
EAT RIGHT: YOUR GUIDE TO NUTRITION
The week’s meals below are rich in fiber and protein to help you feel satisfied. The meals are quick and simple to prep. The best part: there’s not a single salad in sight. So dig in!
Option 1: 2 cups of whole oats cooked with a sprinkle of cinnamon, sliced banana, a scoop of whey protein powder.
Option 2: 2 cups of Swiss style muesli with mixed berries and 200ml of milk.
Option 3: 2 grilled large flat mushrooms, 1 handful of baby leaf spinach, 20g cream cheese and 2 poached egg whites.
Option 4: 3-egg omelet with sliced tomato, sliced pepper, 1 handful of baby spinach.
Option 5: Blended whey protein shake with 1 cup of whole oats, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds, 1 cup frozen berry mix, 1 banana, 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt.
Option 6: 2 poached eggs and 2 slices of rye bread.
Option 7: 3-egg frittata with sliced tomato, diced pepper, pre-cooked baby potatoes.
Option 1: 2 grilled chicken breasts, mashed sweet potato, and mixed veggies.
Option 2: 2 canned/packaged salmon and dill open-faced sandwiches on rye bread.
Option 3: Can of tuna, mashed avocado, olive oil spread on rice cakes.
Option 4: Thai prawn and vegetable curry on brown rice.
Option 5: 2-sliced turkey breasts whole-wheat pita wrap with mixed salad.
Option 6: Peppered smoked mackerel, avocado, and mixed salad whole-wheat baguette.
Option 7: 2 grilled chicken breasts seasoned with Cajun pepper, 1 cup of couscous and mixed vegetables.
Option 1: 350g lean sirloin steak, small jacket potato, and mixed veggies.
Option 2: Prawn stir-fry on a bed of veggies and ½ cup brown rice.
Option 3: 1 large baked salmon fillet with spinach, leeks and mixed veggies.
Option 4: Lemon chicken on asparagus, squash and mixed salad.
Option 5: 200g lean lamb loins (grilled), a handful of mushrooms stuffed with feta and steamed carrots and peas.
Option 6: Chicken and prawn green curry with soba noodles or brown rice.
Option 7: Lean minced beef chili with mixed veggies, beans, and basmati rice.
Option 1: Mango, kiwi fruit, papaya fruit salad and 3 boiled eggs.
Option 2: Blended whey protein shake with 1 banana, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed and 1-cup steel cut oats.
Option 3: 150ml plain sugar-free yogurt with a handful of blueberries, drizzled with honey and ground mixed seeds and nuts.
Option 4: 150g of cottage cheese and diced pineapple on rice or oatcakes.
Option 5: Sliced carrots and cucumber dipped in hummus.
Option 6: 2 slices of rye bread with peanut butter and sliced banana.
Option 7: 50g of almonds with 40g mixed dried fruit.