Get Lean and Sculpted in 4 Weeks Flat! Part 2: Cardio
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Fitness

Get Lean and Sculpted in 4 Weeks Flat! Part 2: Cardio

Science is on your side: Our state-of-the-art cardio/strength workout plan will melt fat and build sexy muscles.

Recipe for Success

We've found the perfect body-shaping formula that's guaranteed to get results! It's called undulating periodization -- but don't let the techy-sounding name scare you. This is actually a simple way to sculpt muscle, blast fat, combat cellulite, and keep you challenged by systematically varying your strength and cardio workouts each day. And we've got the science to prove it: Studies have found that women who followed similar resistance and aerobic training workouts lost up to 23 pounds of fat in six months while increasing strength, power, and lean muscle mass. Follow our total-body strength training and corresponding cardio program while also following a healthy diet and you'll see sleeker muscles and less body fat in just four weeks. Now that's what we call a recipe for success!

 

For the first part of this workout, Part 1: Strength, check out our easy step-by-step slide show, with photos to show you how to execute each move perfectly.

 
Part 2: Cardio Plan

One of the best ways to maximize fat loss and get more out of your aerobic training is to vary both the duration and intensity of your cardio workouts. To improve your body's ability to burn calories efficiently, incorporate the following three routines into your weekly plan. You can do these workouts outdoors, either running, cycling, or walking, or on any cardio machine, such as a treadmill, stationary bike, stair climber, or elliptical. Cross-train with different modalities to prevent burn-out and improve results. As you get fitter, the routines will get both slightly longer and harder. For each workout, follow your rate of perceived exertion (RPE), or how hard the exercise feels on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being very easy and 10 being very difficult.

Cardio Workout 1: Tempo Training

Work at a steady intensity that's comfortable but challenging throughout.

Minutes Move
0:00-5:00 Warm up at a light to moderate intensity (RPE 3 or 4).
5:00-30:00* Increase to moderately high intensity (RPE 6), gradually slowing to moderate level (RPE 4) for the final few minutes.


*This workout will progress to 40 minutes by the end of the four-week program.

Interval Training & Metabolic Base Training

Workout 2: Interval Training

Alternate bursts of high and low intensity.

Minutes Move
0:00-5:00 Warm up at a light to moderate intensity (RPE 3 or 4).
5:00-8:00 Increase to a very challenging intensity (RPE 7).
8:00-11:00 Lower intensity to a moderate recovery level (RPE 4).
11:00-29:00 Repeat minutes 5 to 11, alternating between high and low intensity levels for a total of 4 intervals.
29:00-32:00* Cool down at a light intensity (RPE 3).


*Add 1 interval each week of training, until you're doing a total of 7 intervals, or 50 minutes.

Workout 3: Metabolic Base Training

Exercise at a slow, steady pace for a longer stretch; you can split this routine into two or three shorter training sessions over the course of a day or do one longer workout.

Minutes Move
0:00-40:00* Maintain a light to moderate intensity throughout (RPE 3 or 4).


*This routine will progress to 60 minutes by the end of the four-week program.

Your Day-by-Day Workout Guide

Our detailed Daily Workout Plan, below, takes you through each of your given strength and cardio workouts. On your strength days (three a week), you'll vary the number of sets and reps while choosing between exercise options A and B. (Note: You'll always do 12 to 15 reps of the ab moves.) For the cardio days (also three days a week), you'll change the length and/or type of workout. If you're short on time, double up your strength and cardio and take an extra rest day or optional light aerobic day.

 
Week 1 Move
Day 1 Strength Option A: Do 1 set, 12 to 15 reps (endurance)
Day 2 Cardio Workout 1: 30 minutes (tempo training)
Day 3 Strength Option A: Do 1 set, 8 to 10 reps (power) Perform each move with a more dynamic burst of energy.
Day 4 Cardio Workout 2: 32 minutes (interval training)
Day 5 Cardio Workout 2: 32 minutes (interval training)
Day 6 Cardio Workout 3: 40 minutes (metabolic base training)
Day 7 Off or optional light aerobic activity (30 minutes)

Average Weekly Total Calories Burned: 1,272 (Week 1)

Week 2 Move
Day 8 Strength Option B: Do 2 sets, 12 to 15 reps (endurance)
Day 9 Cardio Workout 1: 35 minutes (tempo training)
Day 10 Strength Option B: Do 2 sets, 8 to 10 reps (power)
Day 11 Cardio Workout 2: 38 minutes (interval training)
Day 12 Strength Option B: Do 2 sets, 5 or 6 reps (build muscle)
Day 13 Cardio Workout 3: 45 minutes (metabolic base training)
Day 14 Off or optional light aerobic activity (35 minutes)

Average Weekly Total Calories Burned: 1,707 (Week 2)

Week 3 Move
Day 15 Strength Option A: Do 3 sets, 12 to 15 reps (endurance)
Day 16 Cardio Workout 1: 40 minutes (tempo training)
Day 17 Strength Option A: Do 3 sets, 8 to 10 reps (power)
Day 18 Cardio Workout 2: 44 minutes (interval training)
Day 19 Strength Option A: Do 3 sets, 5 or 6 reps (build muscle)
Day 20 Cardio Workout 3: 50 minutes (metabolic base training)
Day 21 Off or optional light aerobic activity on any mode (40 to 45 minutes)

Average Weekly Total Calories Burned: 2,174 (Week 3)

Week 4* Move
Day 22 Strength Option B: Do 3 sets, 5 or 6 reps (build muscle)
Day 23 Cardio Workout 3: 60 minutes (metabolic base training)
Day 24 Strength Option B: Do 3 sets, 8 to 10 reps (power)
Day 25 Cardio Workout 2:50 minutes (interval training)
Day 26 Strength Option B: Do 3 sets, 12 to 15 reps (endurance)
Day 27 Cardio Workout 1: 45 minutes (tempo training)
Day 28 Off or optional light activity on any mode (45 to 55 minutes)
 

Originally published in Fitness magazine, November 2005

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