Fit is the new skinny. Magazines and models are now presenting a long-awaited, much healthier image that is physically more realistic and suits the pace of daily life. Instead of feeling hungry and bad-tempered, it means improving your body’s condition, gaining confidence—and feeling good about the prospect of beachwear!
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get into shape. Read on for easy and effective routines to include in your lifestyle for achievable, visible results.
GET CARDIO FIT WITH INTERVAL TRAINING
With regular cardio training—whether running, cycling, swimming, cardio machines, or any other form of aerobic exercise—you will not only improve the efficiency of your blood circulation andyour mental wellbeing, but you’ll also reduce blood pressure and lose weight. All it takes to reap the rewards is a specific minimum duration and optimum frequency.
Cardio workouts include any type of physical activity that increases your breathing and heart rate, but a major discovery is that we now know you can elevate your metabolism for up to 24 hours after exercise by adding a twist to your routine—it’s called intervals.
All you have to do is inject brief periods of intense effort into your walks, runs, swims, cycling, or elliptical sessions, and the like. The intensity effectively resets your metabolism to a slightly higher rate during your workout, and it takes hours for it to slow down again. That equates to continued calorie burn long after your training is done.
Push the intensity/pace for a minute or two, slow down for 2–10 minutes (depending how long your total workout is and how much recovery time you need). Continue doing this throughout your workout, and not only is it more effective, it’s also a much shorter session than you’d expect. Most experts suggest at least 20–30 minutes three times per week.
THE BEST HIGH-INTENSITY WORKOUTS FOR OPTIMUM RESULTS
Experts used to suggest running to lose weight, but today we know that muscles are actually the key components for weight loss. While cardio uses more calories than resistance training duringyour workout, lifting weights burns more fat overall—what’s more, the muscle you gain consists of fat-burning cells. In addition, muscles contour and sculpt the entire body, making it look and feel much fitter and healthier than a skinny body. Start with your bodyweight, and then add weights when you’re ready to progress your workout. To find the right routine to suit your fitness level there’s a vast choice of mobile apps, online training plans, DVDs, and offers at your local gym.
For top results, we recommend high-intensity interval training (HIIT): this is a system where you alternate periods of high-intensity work with lighter-intensity recovery periods for a bigger calorie burn in less time. The other trick is to choose exercises that are more efficient than others—these can either target multiple muscle groups at the same time, or suit a variety of fitness levels, or help you burn calories more effectively.
David Kirsch, trainer of Hollywood moms such as Heidi Klum, is famous for his circle training system. A 30-minute session combines individual exercises that require very little equipment to create a highly effective total-body workout. Other ways of maximizing results while minimizing the time spent can include using a resistance band to train triceps, back and shoulders all at the same time, or doing sumo squats with a kettle bell to train your buttocks (glutes) as well as the upper body muscles. To get the streamlined, graceful figure of a dancer, fitness guru Tracy Anderson is worth noting.
Her workout includes rhythmic music exercises from jazz and street dance, and flowing circular motions that train so-called auxiliary muscles while the whole body is in action. To keep things simple but effective, the plyometric training suggested by Australian Instagram star Kayla Itsines involves a 12-week “Bikini Body Guide” (#bbg) with a 28-minute program three times a week.
The intense workout pushes you to perform non-stop squats, burpees and push-ups on a very intense level, while the plyometric approach requires jumping into each position to keep the body in a state of constant physical stimulation.
THE ESSENTIAL MICRO WORKOUT
If you’re in a hurry to get into shape, start with this intense 10-minute micro-workout. Begin with a warm-up minute of jumping rope or “Jumping Jacks” that will heat the muscles, loosen the body, and prepare the mind for action. Then move on to squats, which work the leg and buttock muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes).
For perfect form, keep feet shoulder-width apart and back straight, bend the knees and lower your rear while keeping the knees directly in line with the ankles. Go ahead with alternating lunges: step one leg forward (and back and out!) in a lunge, slowly transferring your body weight onto your front foot. Focus on dropping your hips toward the ground rather than driving them forward. Switch legs and repeat.
Now the push-ups: lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor and move slowly up and down while keeping your back straight. It will strengthen your chest and shape your shoulders, triceps and glutes, while toning and tightening your entire core. Modify by going on your knees if it‘s too hard.
For abdominal crunches: begin by lying on your back with feet flat on the floor and fingertips supporting your head. Press your low back down and begin the exercise by contracting abs and peeling first your head, then your neck, shoulders, and upper back off the floor. Be careful not to pull your neck forward, don’t hold your breath, and keep the chest and shoulders open.
Finish your session with some stretches to help maintain flexibility.
For each exercise, perform as many reps as you can in 30–60 seconds and rest for 10–30 seconds between exercises. Include dumbbells to improve your workout.
If you’re a beginner, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a fitness trainer to be sure that your form is safe and correct. Perform your personalized workout at least three times a week and you’ll feel and see early results after a week, with considerable body change after three months.
SOME SOUND ADVICE
Please bear in mind that a bikini body not only requires regular workouts, but healthy eating as well. If you want to burn fat and lose weight, you need to slightly reduce your calorie intake. A diet is by no means necessary—just a change in your food choices. That’s why most programs, whether Kayla Itsines, David Kirsch, or UK-based The Body Coach, all advise taking a holistic approach that not only includes exercise, but nutrition and sleep, as well. It goes without saying that you’ll need to find a workout you genuinely enjoy to maximize your chances of sticking with it.
Every workout mentioned in this article is aimed at beginners—be sure to choose the intensity that suits your personal circumstances. If you have any doubts about your suitability for exercise due to health issues, medical conditions or pregnancy, we recommend seeing your doctor before you embark on a regimen.