An exercise regime to get in shape by New Year's Eve!
Fitness expert Brinda Sapat elaborates on a routine to have you looking your best within less than a month! Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh
A 30-day countdown to the year-end is just about enough time to feeling fit, shedding a bit of fat and looking your best, so get into your trainers and let's get going!
The cardio segment will help you burn fat and internally strengthen your heart and lungs. All the other resistance exercises help to tone and tighten your muscles, giving you the fab shape!
Equipment: Walking shoes and a mat
Plug in your favourite dance music and get your heart rate up with a 30-minute brisk walk/jog.
Abdominal crunches: Two sets of 12-16 reps
Lie face-up on the floor on a mat. Link your fingers behind your head and keep the elbows out to the sides. Your head should be comfortably positioned and the hands should bear the weight of the head. Raise both the legs with the knees bent. This is the start position. Now contract the abdominal muscles and lift your shoulder blades off the floor, while simultaneously lifting your hips off the floor. Squeeze the tummy hard, and then slowly lower.
Add in a set of oblique twists. Raise your upper body similarly, but twist, bringing the opposite shoulder towards the knee.
Brinda Sapat is Group Exercise Instructor at Gold's Gym, Napean Sea Road, Mumbai. Certified with Training Zone & Progressive Fitness (USA), she has been a fitness instructor for over a decade.
Image: Abdominal crunches
Swan: Two sets of 12-16 reps
Lie face-down on a mat on the floor. Link your fingers under your nose and elbows out to the side. Legs are straight and feet on the floor. Now raise the upper body as high as you can, squeezing your back. Keep your nose pointing down towards the mat at all times. Lower the upper body and then lift both the legs off the floor, squeezing the lower back. Lower the legs.
Keep alternating between the upper and lower body.
Image: The Swan
Equipment: Medium-weight dumbells or two bottles of water, a bar you can hang on.
Start off with 30 minute walk- jog intervals (walk for two minutes, jog for two and so on)
Burpees: Two sets of 12-16 reps
Stand, go into a squat, then bring your hands to the floor. Thrust both your feet back into push-up position, then hop back into squat and stand up.
Dynamic lunges with overhead presses: Two sets of 16 reps
Take a long stride forward with your right foot. This is the starting position. Now bend both knees and lower yourself towards the floor, making sure your right knee stays in line with the ankle. Press the right heel into the floor and push yourself up to the starting position. Finish a set with the right foot forward, then change legs.
These alternating leg lunges should be combined with an overhead shoulder press, raising your arms, as you go down into the lunge. Stand holding the dumbbells in your hands at the shoulders with the palms facing forward. Raise your arms straight up towards the ceiling without locking the elbows as you go down into the lunge. Then bring the arms to starting position as you bring your feet together.
Image: Dynamic lunges with overhead presses
Chin-ups: Two sets of 12-16 reps
Hang on a bar, palms facing you. Pull yourself up as high as you can by bending your elbows.
Equipment: Medium and heavy dumbells and a mat
Start off with a 30-minute walk.
Push-ups: Two sets of 12-16 reps
Lie on your tummy. Come up on your hands and toes. Place your hands wide. Maintain the body in a straight line by tightening the abs. Lower the body by bending your elbows. Bring the chest towards the floor. Push yourself back up by squeezing the chest muscles.
Reverse flyes: Two sets of 12-16 reps
Stand in the lunge position. Lower your torso till your body forms a diagonal line from head to heel. Hold weights (medium dumbells) in your hands and hang them by your sides. Raise both arms up to the sides in line with the shoulders and give your shoulder blades a tight squeeze. Slowly lower.
Image: Reverse flyes
Tricep dips: Two sets of 12-16 reps
Recline on the floor with your knees bent. Bend your elbows till they form a 90 degree angle. Now raise your hip and straighten the elbows. Bend the elbows and lower your hips. The important movement is in the elbows, not the hip, so focus on the arms.
Image: Tricep dips
Bicep curls: Two sets of 12-16 reps
Stand holding the (heavy) dumbbells in both hands. Place your hands with the palms facing forward on your thighs. Bend the elbows and raise your palms to your shoulders. Slowly lower, taking care not to lock your elbows.
Follow up the bicep curls with abdominal crunches (two sets of 12-16 reps) and the swan (two sets of 12-16 reps).
Image: Bicep curls
Equipment: You can overload with dumbbells and ankle weights
Start off with 30-minute walk- jog intervals.
Squats: Two sets of 12-16 reps
Stand with your feet a little more than hip distance apart. Link your fingers and hold your arms up in front of you at shoulder height. Slowly push your hip back and down till your thighs are parallel to the floor. Imagine yourself trying to sit on a chair placed way behind you. Knees should be in line with the ankle and not surpass them. Press the heels into the floor and push yourself up to standing position, without locking your knees.
For added resistance hold dumbbells in your hands, placed on the shoulder.
Concentrated lunges: Two sets per leg of 12-16 reps
Take a long stride forward with your right foot. This is the starting position. Place your hands at your waist. Now bend both knees and lower yourself towards the floor, making sure your right knee stays in line with the ankle. Press the right heel into the floor and push yourself up to the starting position. Finish a set with the right foot forward, then change legs.
For added resistance, hold dumbbells in your hands hung down by your side.
Image: Concentrated lunges
Heel raises: Two sets of 16 reps
Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Slowly come up on the balls of the feet by lifting the heels, and then gently lower. Before your heels touch the floor, lift up for the next rep.
Hold dumbbells on your shoulders for more overload.
Image: Heel raises
Days Four, Five, Six and Seven
Donkey kicks: Two sets of 12-16 reps per leg
Get onto all fours, resting your elbows on the floor. Bring your right knee in towards your chest. Flex your foot and push it backward and upward, squeezing your butt and then bring the knee back in. Finish a set with the right and then do the left.
Use ankle weights for added resistance.
- 30 minute run
- Abdominal crunches: Two sets of 12-16 reps
- Swan: Two sets of 12-16 reps
- 30-minute walk/jog
- Push-ups: Two sets of 12-16 reps
- Chin-ups: Two sets of 12-16 reps
- Overhead shoulder press: Two sets of 12-16 reps
- Reverse flyes: Two sets of 12-16 reps
- Squats: Two sets of 12-16 reps
- Heel raises: Two sets of 16 reps
Repeat the same routine for all three weeks.
Remember to stretch!
Finish off each workout with a few stretches like the toe touch, side bends, pulling your heel in to the hips etc.
Image: Donkey kicks
All that exercise is going to make you hungry! For optimum effects, it is very important to watch what you are putting into your stomach.
- Start your day with a wholesome breakfast of cereal, egg white/low fat yoghurt, wholegrain bread and a fruit.
- Snack in between meals on fruits, raw veggies or nuts. This boosts your metabolic levels, helping to burn fat faster!
- At lunch, opt for a wholegrain sandwich with a low fat filling OR chapati and veggies.
- Snack again two hours post lunch.
- Now here's the crucial one -- dinner, the key to your weightloss! Keep it light and eat it at least three hours before you hit the sack. Opt for soup, salad and chicken/fish/a bowl of lentils/tofu (lightly cooked).
- Drink enough water through the day, before during and after exercise as well.
- Craving the junk? Have a small portion of what you crave only when you desperately crave it.
D-Day: Eat sensibly through the day. Exercise -- it will make your skin glow, you will be standing taller, feeling fit and looking your best!
Happy New Year!
Photographs: Casey Lehman from Haljarp, Sweden/Wikimedia Commons