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Michael De Medeiros
the decision to get fit is a massive first step, but it's the next part — the figuring out exactly what to do to achieve your weight-loss goals — that can feel overwhelming. (After all, you probably didn't learn how to build a workout program in PE.) "Creating a definitive exercise plan each week ensures that you are taking a balanced approach to fitness, with adequate amounts of cardiovascular and strength training," certified personal trainer Sarah Chadwell, NASM, told POPSUGAR.
If you're thinking,
Great, but how do I start?, we've got you covered. Chadwell has designed a balanced, 7-day plan that will put you on the path to creating a safe calorie deficit, allowing you to lose one to two pounds per week. You might feel sore or exhausted at first, but it'll get easier as you grow stronger. And once you're feeling good, you can gradually up the intensity of your workouts or add more resistance to keep the momentum going week after week.
Day 1: Legs and Cardio
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You're well-rested, refreshed, and ready to take on a new week, so use that energy to squeeze in some cardio and work some of your largest muscles: your legs.
"Combining strength training with your cardiovascular training is time efficient; it incinerates fat and helps increase your muscular and cardiovascular endurance," Chadwell said. Try this
cardio and lower-body circuit.
Day 2: Chest
"Women typically think of chest day as a man's favorite gym day, but it's equally important for women," Chadwell said. "Training chest helps to improve posture; it could even give the girls a lift, and you'll improve your upper body strength."
Choose any six
chest exercises from this list, and do three sets of 15-20 reps. Rest for one minute between each set. Each week, choose a different combination of exercises, or at least swap out two of them to keep variety in your workouts.
Day 3: High-Intensity Interval Training
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HIIT workouts are typically only 10-30 minutes long, but you'll go all-out for the high-intensity portions of the workout, followed by rest or active recovery periods. "The pattern of bursts followed by rests is highly effective for fat loss and increasing your metabolism, so it's ideal to incorporate HIIT in your workouts one to two times per week in place of steady state cardio," Chadwell told POPSUGAR.
this beginner's routine or any of the HIIT workouts on this list, choosing a different workout each week to keep things fresh.
Day 4: Rest
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Rest and recovery is just as important as working out and eating well. By Day 4 of your new training program, you may find you need some time to recover. In fact, at the beginning, you may need up to three rest days until your body acclimates to the stresses of working out. "Listen to your body! Even though I'm outlining a seven-day program, that doesn't mean you can't put more rest days into your weekly schedule if you need them," said Chadwell.
If you still want to work out, try some
beginner's yoga, either in a class or at home. Stretching can help soothe sore muscles.
Day 5: Upper Body and Arms
Chadwell noted that many women shy away from training their upper body, for any number of reasons. You might find it intimidating, or worry that you'll bulk up — but it's just a matter of choosing the right workout.
Try a simple
bodyweight routine or a circuit using only light weights. You'll improve your overall muscular balance and strength (and feel great come tank top season).
Day 6: Circuit Training
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Circuit training is a super-effective way to work your entire body in one session, with strength training to build muscle and cardio to melt away fat. Try
this core-focused circuit or a bodyweight routine to strengthen your legs, arms, and abs, then mix it up with a new bodyweight workout each week, incorporating weights as your fitness level improves.
Day 7: Back
"Let's all promise to never neglect our backs! Back training is essential because it aids in proper posture," Chadwell said. "A strong upper and middle back helps stave off lower back pain and prevent injury, and because it's part of your core, your back also helps you execute almost all other forms of exercise efficiently." You heard her — try this
back day routine.