Summer Slim-Down workout plan: Week 3

Get fitter this summer with our eight-week plan. This week, evaluate your progress and ask yourself ‘Are you working hard enough?’

Summer Slim-Down workout plan: Week 3

Source: Web exclusive, June 2011

As you begin Week 3 of the Summer Slim-Down program, pay closer attention to the level of effort you put into your workouts. We all lack energy sometimes, so taking it easy occasionally might be just what your body needs.

But on most days, you probably feel healthy and alert, so make sure to push yourself to an appropriate intensity. It’s hard work that will help you burn enough calories to stay motivated with exercising regularly, eating well and dropping weight.

After cardio exercise, you should feel tired but not exhausted. When lifting weights, your muscles should need a rest after about eight to 12 repetitions. If you feel like you could keep going for a lot longer, consider increasing the amount of weight you’re lifting.

Try this guide to gauge effort

One way to gauge intensity when doing cardio is with what experts call Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Using a scale from one to 10, judge how hard you’re working. One means no effort, as if you were lying on the sofa relaxing; 10 is exercising at a ‘maxed-out’ intensity.

For most exercises, aim for an RPE between three and eight. Use the list below as a guide.

1. No effort.
2. Light effort.
3. Comfortable and easy effort, where you can comfortably carry on a conversation.
4. Light to moderate effort.
5. Moderate to strong effort, where your breathing becomes more rapid.
6. Strong effort.
7. Very strong effort, where you can only speak in short sentences.
8. Challenging effort.
9. Very challenging effort that can only be maintained for short periods.
10. All-out effort that would feel very uncomfortable.

Let’s get started: Week 3

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.

Do the following workouts on four of the next seven days, on non-consecutive days whenever possible.

Workout for day 1 (45 minutes):

‘ Warm up for 3 minutes.
‘ Next 10 minutes: Exercise at an RPE of about 5.
‘ Next 19 minutes: Do three minutes at an RPE of 6 to 7, then five minutes at 5, then repeat, ending with three minutes at 6 to 7.
‘ Next 6 minutes: 5 RPE
‘ Final 7 minutes: Cool down at an RPE of about 2 to 3. Stretch.

Workout for day 2 (40 minutes):

Repeat Workout 4 from Week 2.

New challenge: Instead of doing alternating biceps curls, bend and lower both arms at the same time for more intensity. Remember to do two sets per strength exercise and try at least one new cardio format this week, if possible. Avoid doing the same style of cardio during every workout: try cycling instead of using the elliptical, or walking instead of swimming. Your body will burn more calories with unfamiliar exercise.

Workout for day 3 (50 minutes):

Repeat the workout for day 1. After you’ve cooled down, do the following sequence twice:

‘ Stationary lunges: Stand with right foot back, heel up. Lower back knee to floor; keep front knee aligned over front ankle and behind toes. Do eight to 12 reps per side.

‘ Triceps push-ups: Get into a push-up position, knees on floor if necessary, with hands below shoulders and arms straight. Lower body toward floor, going as far as you can while still able to get up again, keeping elbows close to body and pointing behind you (not splayed out to the side). Do eight to 12 reps.

‘ Plank: Get in a push-up-like position with forearms on floor and elbows directly below shoulders, knees on floor if necessary. Keep body straight and neck neutral. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing normally.

Workout for day 4 (40 minutes):

Repeat the workout for day 2 with the following change: Hold on to heavy weights during Squats and Alternating Reverse Lunges to increase intensity.

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

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