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The 2,500-Calorie Workout: Fight Fat Faster

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Find Your Perfect-Body Equation

How much exercise do you really need to get slim and strong? Your doctor may tell you one thing, the trainer at the gym another, even Uncle Sam has recently joined the fray with the USDA's 2005 Dietary Guidelines. But we've got the simple solution to your perfect-body equation: a point-based exercise and diet program with everything you need to reach your goals.

Here's the plan: Instead of counting calories or minutes, you'll accumulate points. (Each point equals 100 calories.) You'll earn them by doing the workouts created by Morgan Luzier, director of Balance, a fitness studio in Minneapolis, and by following some nutrition and lifestyle tips. Add it all up and by four weeks you'll start to see a lean, sexy body you'll love!

Your Better-Body Points Plan

You Want: To Boost Energy and Feel Stronger
Try: Workouts 1-5, done in the order given over the course of a week (18.5 points). Add in Bonus Activities (2.5 points).
Total Points Earned: 21 (Actual calories burned: 2,100)

You Want: To Get Lean and Sculpted
Try: Workouts 1-6, done in the order given over the course of a week; take one rest day (22.5 points). Add in Bonus Activities (2.5 points)
Total Points Earned: 25 (Actual calories burned: 2,500)

You Want: To Lose 8 Pounds in 2 Months
Try: Workouts 1-6, done in the order given over the course of a week; take one rest day (22.5 points). Add one 30-minute cardio session to workouts 2 and 6 (2.5 points). Add in Bonus Diet Points (2.5 points) and Bonus Activity Points (2.5 Points).
Total Points Earned: 30 (Actual calories burned: 3,000)

Workout 1: Strength Circuit

See our step-by-step slide show, with photos to show you how to execute each move perfectly.

See Workout 1: Strength Circuit

Workout 2: Indoor Cardio Circuit

Points Earned: 4 points, (45 minutes; 400 calories burned)

Start each cardio segment with a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is easiest and 10 is hardest; gradually build to 7.

 

Minutes Move
0:00-5:00 Warm up on Cardio Machine of your choice (RPE: 3-4)
5:00-15:00 Stationary Bike
15:00-25:00 Running on Treadmill
25:00-35:00 Elliptical Trainer
35:00-45:00 Rowing Machine

Workout 3: Running Intervals

Points Earned: 4 points, (40 minutes; 400 calories)

Indoors: Do the following two groups of intervals on a treadmill, adjusting the incline or speed to suit your fitness level.

Group 1:

3 minutes, 5 percent incline, 5 mph
2 minutes, 5 percent incline, 5.5 mph
1 minute, 5 percent incline, 6 mph
1 minute, 0 percent incline, 6.5 mph
Do complete series three times

Group 2:

3 minutes, 10 percent incline, 5 mph
2 minutes, 10 percent incline, 5.5 mph
1 minute, 10 percent incline, 6 mph
1 minute, 0 percent incline, 6.5 mph
Do complete series twice

Cool down: 2 minutes, 0 percent incline, 3 mph

Outdoors: Jog for 8 minutes, gradually increasing pace as you warm up from RPE 3 to 6. Find a moderate hill and do hill repeats for 15 to 20 minutes: Break the hill into sections: long (all the way to the top), medium (halfway up) and short (one-quarter of the way up). Do 5 to 6 segments each of long, medium, and short repeats. Go hard as you climb (RPE: 8 or 9) and recover on the way down (RPE: 1-3). Finish with 8 more minutes on flat terrain, gradually tapering RPE from 6 to 3.

Workout 4: Repeat Strength Circuit

Points Earned: 3 points, (35 minutes; 300 calories)

If your goal is weight loss, add 20 to 30 minutes of moderate cardio, such as cycling, swimming, or brisk walking, before or after this workout for an extra 2.5 points.

Try our strength-building workout in this easy step-by-step format, with photos to show you how to execute each move perfectly.

Workout 1: Strength Circuit

Workout 5: Long Recovery

Points Earned: 4.5 points, (40-60 minutes; 450 calories)

  • This longer cardio workout gives your body a chance to recover from the more intense sessions. Choose from the following options: If you go for 60 minutes, you can drop the intensity to a 5; if your workout is on the shorter end, step it up to a 7.
  • Cycling, 45 to 60 minutes
  • In-Line Skating, 45 to 60 minutes
  • Tennis Singles, 60 minutes
  • Walk, 4 mph, 60 minutes
  • Step Class, 60 minutes
  • Swimming Laps, 30 to 45 minutes

Workout 6: Speed Intervals

Points Earned: 4 points, (40 minutes; 400 calories)

You can do these intervals on any cardio machine, but you'll get the maximum calorie burn running on a treadmill. Use your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) as a measure of intensity on a scale of 1 to 10.

 

Minutes Move RPE
0:00-10:00 Warm Up

RPE 2, building to 5

10:00-10:30

Increase Speed

RPE 8
10:30-11:00

Recover

RPE 3
11:00-12:00

Increase Speed

RPE 7
12:00-13:00

Recover

RPE 3

13:00-14:30

Increase Speed

RPE 6

14:30-16:00

Recover

RPE 3

16:00-18:00

Increase Speed

RPE 5

18:00-20:00

Recover

RPE 3

20:00-21:30

Increase Speed

RPE 6

21:30-23:00

Recover

RPE 3

23:00-24:00

Increase Speed

RPE 7

24:00-25:00

Recover

RPE 3

25:00-25:30

Increase Speed

RPE 8

25:30-26:00 Recover

RPE 3

26:00-36:00

Increase Speed

RPE 6, or a pace that’s slightly out of your comfort zone

36:00-40:00

Cool Down

RPE 5, dropping to 3

Bonus Diet Points

Earn extra points by making some changes to your diet, says Ellie Krieger, RD, author of Small Changes, Big Results (Clarkson Potter, 2005). If your goal is to lose weight, bank two to three points (200 to 300 calories) each week.

 

0.5 Points
Instead of: Choose:
1 Sports Bar 12 Almonds and 2 tablespoons Raisins
1 Banana 1 Cup of Strawberries
PB&J on Toast PB&J on Whole-Grain Crispbread

 

1 Point

 

Instead of: Choose:
12 oz. Orange Juice 1 Orange
A Tuna Sandwich with Mayo A Turkey Sandwich with Mustard
1 Large Corn Muffin 1 English Muffin with 1 tablespoon each Peanut Butter and Jam

 

1.5 Points

 

Instead of: Choose:
12 oz. Soda 12 oz. Club Soda with Lemon
½ cup Premium Ice Cream ½ cup Light Ice Cream
A Bagel with Cream Cheese 8 oz. Yogurt with 1 cup Strawberries

 

2 Points

 

Instead of: Choose:
A Large Order of French Fries A Small Order of French Fries
2 oz. Potato Chips 2 oz. Baked Chips
2 Slices of Pepperoni Pizza 1 Slice with Vegetable Topping

Bonus Activity Points

.5 Points
  • Vacuum, 15 Minutes
  • Scrub Your Kitchen ‘Til It Sparkles, 15 Minutes
  • Walk an Extra 10 Minutes to the Next Coffee Shop or Post Office

 

1 Point

 

  • Walk Anywhere Briskly, 15 Minutes
  • Drop in Your Favorite CD and Dance, 15 Minutes
  • Rake Leaves, 30 Minutes

 

2+ Points

 

  • Meet a Buddy for a Walking Lunch Break, 40 Minutes
  • Get a Jump on Your Holiday Shopping, 1 Hour
  • Ride Your Bike to Return a Video or Library Book, 20 Minutes at an Easy Pace

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