If you’ve put on a little weight and lost some fitness during the winter, or holidays, or at any time, then this program is for you.
You will need to work hard, but the aim is to target fat burning and muscle building. It takes motivation and discipline to see it through, and you need to be sure you have no existing health conditions that would prevent you from participating in vigorous exercise. However, the payoff is a guarantee that it will work for most people if you stick with it.
The secret is a combination of moderate to high-intensity exercise, including cardio and weight training, plus a strict diet. Even so, if you want life-long fitness, this program of nutrition and exercise is not so severe that you could not adopt it as a lifestyle program. Of course, it’s tested.
Elements of the Shape-Up for Summer Program
Who Can Use The Program?
The Shape-Up program is for anyone who:
The Nutrition Plan
The nutrition plan is low in added sugar, low in fat but not too low (20% to 25%), low in energy density and relatively high in fiber. Serving sizes should be adjusted according to your target weight goals. You will need to judge that yourself. On average, women need around 10 to 11 calories per pound of body weight each day to maintain their current weight and men need 12 to 13 calories per pound of body weight per day to maintain their current weight. (Multiply by 2.2 for kilograms.) You can calculate this for ‘target weight’ if you want to measure calories.
To lose weight, you need to create an energy deficit either by reducing your food intake or expending more energy with physical activity. You should not under-eat too much because that will lower your metabolism, and you need to raise your metabolism -– which is what the higher-intensity exercise will do. Also, if you eat too little you will not have the energy to get through the exercise program.
The way this eating plan works is to provide sufficient food to satisfy hunger, to meet nutrient requirements for optimum health, and to fuel the demanding exercise program while discouraging overeating.
Exercise Program for the Shape-Up for Summer Program
The plan requires that you exercise for 5 days each week for an hour each day with no more than three days consecutively. Thirty minutes of the one-hour session must be at a heart rate at or higher than 70% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). You can approximate your MHR by subtracting your age from 220. If you’re 40, your maximum heart rate estimate will be 180 beats per minute (220 less 40). Seventy percent of 180 is 126. That’s your target heart rate. You can train at a higher heart rate if you feel comfortable with it, but you must reach that 70%.
A way to approximate this intensity is to see how well you can talk or hold a conversation while exercising. If you can carry on a conversation, yet it’s labored and interrupted by breathing, that’s about right. If you can talk easily or sing then you need to speed up a little. If you gasp for breath each time you try to talk, that’s likely to be much higher than 70% of your highest heart rate.
The following is an example schedule. These are general principles and you can modify them to suit your circumstances while you stick to the general principles.
Day 1. Sixty minutes of cardio: Walking, jogging or cycling, with 30 minutes at 70% effort or higher. You can do low or high intensity first, depending on how you feel, or you can mix high and low intensity in 10- or 15-minute blocks. You can use a treadmill or cycle at gym or home if that suits.
Day 2. Weight training, moderate to hard. Put the effort in with these lifts. Do 10 minutes of cardio warmup and cool-down either side of the 40 minutes weights session to get your 60 minutes completed.
Day 3. Rest.
Day 4. Circuit training for 30 minutes moderate to hard, plus 30 minutes cardio. The dumbbell circuit can be done at home or at the gym. The additional 30 minutes can be a walk or jog or cycle, outside or at the gym, at low intensity.
Day 5. Same as Day 2.
Day 6. Rest.
Day 7. Same as Day 1.
Remember, you need to hit that 70% of maximum heart rate for 30 minutes each exercise session and you need to do another 30 minutes at lower intensity at least — but not necessarily consecutively.
Energy expended per hour should be in the range 500 to 700 calories for most people. And importantly, this level of intensity should create some afterburn effect, which will continue to rev up your metabolism for quite a few hours after exercise.
Refuel with a carbohydrate drink or meal, including a little protein, within an hour of exercise completion. It’s important to eat well yet to curb any tendency to overeat to reward yourself, otherwise the plan will fail.