Graphic by Margaret Flatley
If you’re looking for a workout plan that can help you lose weight, adding more sweat sessions to your weekly routine is a great place to start. And there are endless ways to do it, too—maybe you’ll unexpectedly fall in love with running, or you’ll find that group fitness is seriously motivating for you. But sticking to one favorite or randomly jumping from one workout to the next isn’t the most efficient or effective way to get fit or lose weight (those may or may not be the same thing for you, which is cool!). If you want to see (and maintain) results, you have to have a plan of action. Whether you’re totally new to fitness or just need some guidance, you’re covered here. Celeb trainer Adam Rosante, author of The 30-Second Body and C9 ambassador, came up with a plan for SELF readers to help guide you to success with any weight-loss goals you may have. It combines ultra-efficient workouts for weight loss along with space for you to incorporate workouts you really love, too.
But first, a few things to note. As great as working out is, for sustainable weight loss, it needs to be combined with healthy nutrition choices and good sleep. And to take an even larger step back, always remember that healthy eating, fitness, and weight loss vary from person to person. What works for your best friend won’t always be the best thing for you, just as your methods might not work for them. And if you’re specifically trying to lose weight, ask yourself why. Will losing weight (and how you go about it) actually make you healthier and happier? And are there other questions you should consider before you try? For example, if you have a history of disordered eating, it’s always smart to discuss potential eating changes with your doctor before embarking on a new plan. Even if you have no history of disordered eating, be sure to set reasonable expectations and goals for yourself. Health and weight loss involve so many components, like the aforementioned healthy eating and sleep, plus things you can’t control at all, like hormonal fluctuations. Above all, no matter what your goals are, it’s most important to treat yourself with kindness and listen to your body.
That’s one of the best things about this plan, actually: “This plan is highly effective, but totally accessible to all levels,” says Rosante. Here, he outlines a sample Monday through Sunday workout plan that, over time, can help you lose weight—all you have to do is keep showing up and working hard. This mix covers all of your bases, but if you need to swap something out, that’s NBD—this is just an example week of the types of workouts you can be doing. Consider it a baseline to help get you going.
Here’s how to use this weight-loss workout plan:
- Check out the perfectly planned week of workouts tailored to weight-loss goals below (and save the pin at the bottom for easy reference, too). If you’re not trying to lose weight, that’s completely fine too—no matter what your goals are, this balanced fitness plan can be a great guideline.
- Schedule your workouts for the upcoming week on your calendar and book your classes in advance.
- If you need to replace a day with another workout, just be strategic about it. “Follow the spirit of each workout: Strength training, high-intensity cardio, mobility work and stretching, steady-state movement.” Maybe you swap out a sprint day with an interval training group fitness class, or you hit up a restorative yoga class on rest day.
- Remember that safe, healthy weight loss is a gradual process!
Now go get ’em.
Monday: Total-Body Strength Training
“Strength training is the key to weight loss and unlocking your inner badass,” says Rosante. “You’ll burn fat, shape your body, and increase the number of calories your body burns at rest.”
This is because the more lean muscle your body has, the more energy it takes to maintain. This increases your BMR, or basal metabolic rate, meaning your body burns more calories at rest. This is a calculation of how many calories you’d burn if you just laid in bed all day.
Rosante’s simple strength workout requires some floor space, a workout bench, and a set of dumbbells. The exact weight you use will vary, he says, but he does have some guidelines for choosing the right ones. “You want to be able to complete all of the reps without stopping, while keeping great form,” he says. “But your last few reps should feel very difficult to complete. You should feel like you could maybe do one or two more reps if you had to.” It may take some trial and error, and it’s better to start lighter when you’re just beginning. (Here are some more tips on choosing the right weight.)
Ready to get started? Here’s the total-body strength workout you’ll do three times a week.
Your Total-Body Strength Workout
Bodyweight Squats—15 reps. Quick tip: Get low, keep your chest up, and don’t let your knees go over your toes during this lower-body move.
Dumbbell Bench Press—12 reps. Quick tip: Position yourself so your head, back, and butt are all on the bench, your feet flat on the floor.
Dumbbell Row—12 reps each side. Quick tip: If you don’t have a bench available, try a bent-over row.
Lying Isometric Y—Hold for 30 seconds. Quick tip: You can keep your legs on the ground for this one if that feels more comfortable.
Box Step-Ups—15 reps each leg. Quick tip: Alternate between your left and right leg, and for an extra challenge, step your lifted foot into a lunge as you come down from the box.
Plank—Hold for 30 seconds. Quick tip: Make sure you’re keeping your core tight!
Do the circuit 3x, resting for 1 minute between each round.
Tuesday: Sprint Intervals
Strength training is important for increasing your BMR, but the calorie burn payoff for high-intensity cardio workouts is more immediate. “Sprinting torches calories and gets the work done in a fraction of the time you’d spend jogging,” explains Rosante. This type of high-intensity interval training is especially effective because after skyrocketing your heart rate several times during a workout, your body uses more energy to get your body back to a resting state.
You can do Rosante’s simple (but tough as hell) sprint interval workout on almost any cardio equipment. So no worries if you just can’t with the treadmill sometimes—you can also use an indoor cycling bike, rowing machine, elliptical, you name it.
- 30 seconds: Full-out sprint
- 60 seconds: Moderate pace jog
- Do this 12x
Wednesday: Foam Rolling + 12,000 Steps
“Your body needs to recover after two days of intensity, but you don’t want to sit around doing nothing,” explains Rosante. “Foam rolling and stretching will improve your mobility and actually help to improve the quality of your workouts, [because] good mobility will allow you to achieve full range of motion in the moves. Executing these moves with a greater range of motion will force your body to exert more energy, and the more energy you exert, the more calories you burn.” A bigger range of motion means you’ll be able to squat deeper and lunge lower while using proper form. When the right muscle fibers are firing, you’ll get more out of every exercise.
Now pair that mobility work with some walking. Walking is a low-impact movement that increases blood flow and will help speed recovery, Rosante explains. “Plus, the simple science of weight loss is this: Expend more energy than you intake. Walking counts!” So break out the activity tracker or down load an app on your phone around and aim to get a solid 12,000 steps in (a little more than the normally cited 10,000 steps). “If the goal is weight loss, an extra 2,000 steps per day helps you kick things up,” says Rosante.
Thursday: Total-Body Strength Training
Do the same workout you did on Monday.
Friday: High-Intensity Group Fitness Class
“Do a high-intensity fitness class to kick up the calorie burn while keeping things fresh, interesting, and social,” says Rosante. Grab some friends and head to an indoor cycling studio, or sign up for the boot camp class you’ve been nervous to try. Having a strategic program like Rosante’s is important for efficiently moving toward your goals, but this where you have the chance to mix it up so you don’t get bored. No matter what you do, though, make sure you sweat—and have fun.
Saturday: Total-Body Strength Training
Do the same workout you did on Monday and Thursday.
Sunday: Rest Day
Ah, rest day—you’ve earned it. Muscles aren’t built while you’re working them—in fact, when you strength train, you’re breaking down muscle fibers. That’s why it’s important to build in rest and recovery time, so they have a chance to repair themselves a little stronger than before, explains Rosante.
“You’ve worked your ass off this past week,” says Rosante. “Rest up and get ready to crush it again next week.”
Stick with this plan for about four weeks, then mix it up.
Keep it up with this workout plan for three to four weeks, suggests Rosante. “Improve and progress with each workout, each week. Lift a little heavier. Push a little harder.” Even if you just focus on improving your form during every workout, that’s still progress, says Rosante.
After a month or so on this plan, it’ll be time to switch it up. “You don’t want to stay on it forever for a couple of reasons. First, you’d get bored out of your mind. And that’s a fitness killer right there,” says Rosante. “Second, your body is absolutely brilliant at adapting to stress. Eventually, it will find a way to make easy work of these sessions. When that happens, you’ll plateau and stop seeing progress. Change is essential.”
But hopefully, once you’ve been crushing your workouts for several weeks, you’ll feel more comfortable than ever moving forward in your fitness journey. And that alone is a big win, no matter what the scale says.
Graphic by Margaret Flatley
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