Summer Slim-Down workout plan: Week 2

Get fitter this summer with our eight-week plan. This week, build on your base by doing more strength moves and mixing up your cardio

Summer Slim-Down workout plan: Week 2

Source: Web exclusive, June 2011

If you completed the three recommended workouts in Week 1 of the Summer Slim-Down eight-week program, you’re ready to step it up a bit in this second week. Well done’you took the first steps to ramping up your health and fitness this summer. (Missed Week 1? No worries’you can start it now.)

Be prepared to add one additional workout day to the end of this week’s schedule. That extra exercise time will help you feel stronger going into Week 3. Plus, it means you’ll burn more total calories this week compared to last week’that’s another step closer to your goals.

Diversify your cardio

You’ll notice that each of the four workouts below contains a cardio portion. Last week, we recommended that you repeat the same type of cardio exercise on all three days: walking. It’s one of the best ways to get started with exercise because it’s simple to do and convenient.

However, you’ll see better results over time if you mix up your routine. This week, try one new cardio exercise during one workout. For example, you might walk outdoors for the first three workouts and hop on a stationary bike or elliptical machine for the remaining day.

Strength training: Improve form and fine-tune movement

If you felt a bit of muscle soreness after one or more of last week’s sessions, you’ll likely find you don’t feel quite as sore post-workout this week.

You’ll be repeating the strength exercises you’ve already learned, so now’s the time to start fine-tuning. As you become more familiar with the moves, pay special attention to keeping good form and proper pace. Don’t hurry: Lifting weights should take you about two to four counts up and two to four counts down to complete.

Before you begin

The workouts in this eight-week program have been designed for healthy men and women who are at a beginner to intermediate fitness level. Please check with your doctor before beginning this program to ensure exercise is safe and appropriate for you at this time.

Plan to exercise four times this week.

Workout for day 1 (40 minutes):

Warm up for three minutes. Do cardio exercise at a moderate pace for 30 minutes. Bump up your effort’and calorie burn’by going slightly harder for five minutes about 10 minutes in and again for another five minutes 20 to 25 minutes in. After the 30 minutes are complete, use the final seven minutes to cool down and stretch. (No strength training.)

Workout for day 2 (40 minutes):

Cardio (25 minutes):
‘ First three minutes: Exercise at a comfortable but brisk pace to warm up.
‘ Increase your effort to maintain a pace that feels moderately challenging for 20 minutes.
‘ Cool down: Move at a comfortable pace for at least two minutes. 

Strength (5-6 minutes):
These are the same strength exercises you did last week. Do one set, eight to 12 reps, of the following exercises with little or no rest between exercises. Choose dumbbells that are heavy enough that you tire out your muscles after eight to 12 reps without losing good form.

‘ Squats (no weights): Sit down into the movement as if sitting into a chair to help keep knees over ankles.

‘ Push-ups (no weights): Hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees or toes on floor.

‘ Back rows: From standing, step one foot slightly forward and lean forward from the waist, back straight, arms pointed toward the floor, hands below shoulders. Bend arms, bringing elbows up and behind you, palms facing body. Release. 

‘ Alternating reverse lunges (no weights): Starting with feet hip-width apart, step right foot back, lowering right knee to floor and keeping left knee behind toes as the left thigh lowers; return to standing and repeat on other side (that’s one rep).

‘ Alternating biceps curls: Holding dumbbells with arms at sides and palms facing forward, bend right elbow to bring dumbbell up to right shoulder. Release and repeat on left (that’s one rep).

‘ Abdominal crunches (no weights): Lie on your back with arms crossed over chest or hands behind ears. Without pulling with your arms, use your abs to lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Release.

‘ Low back extensions (no weights): Lie face down with arms at sides and toes pointed. Using your low back, slowly lift shoulders off the floor. Release.

Flexibility (4 to 5 minutes):
Stretch your arms, shoulders, chest, back, hips and legs, holding each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.

Workout for day 3 (40 minutes):

Repeat Workout 1.

Workout for day 4 (40 minutes):

If you haven’t mixed in a new style of cardio yet for this week, consider doing so now. Repeat Workout 2 from earlier in the week, but with the following changes:

‘ Do 20 minutes of cardio (includes three-minute warm-up and two-minute cool-down).
‘ Do two sets of each strength exercise: Complete the entire sequence one time, beginning with squats and ending with low back extensions. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat sequence a second time.   

Amanda Vogel is a certified fitness instructor with an MA in human kinetics.

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