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Week Three: Sticking to your fitness plan Add to ...

The program

What you need:

A resistance ball, free weights and a mat. Pick a weight light enough that you can perform repetitions using proper form. When you're done, you should feel like that was the last rep you could have completed with good form.

What you need to know:

This week, each strength-training session consists of three circuits. At the end of a circuit, rest one minute then repeat for a total of three times before moving on to the next circuit.

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Cardio intervals:

Before each circuit, do two to five minutes of butt kicks: Alternate bringing each heel backward toward your butt and lowering it again. For the advanced program, add a hop in-between knee lifts.

Difficulty: Beginner

Strength training: Two sessions a week on non-consecutive days.

Cardio: Two to three sessions a week.

Difficulty: Advanced

Strength training: Two to three sessions a week on non-consecutive days.

Cardio: Three sessions a week, including one interval session.

Strength training

CIRCUIT 1

1. Bench press

Beginners: Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet on the floor. Holding a weight in each hand, start with your arms at a 90-degree angle on the floor beside you. Press the weights up over your chest and then slowly lower (12-15 repetitions).

Advanced: Perform the bench press with your head and shoulders on a resistance ball with your feet on the floor and your hips up in the air (12-15 reps).

2. Wide row with stomach on ball

Beginner and advanced: Place your chest on a resistance ball and your feet against a wall so that you do not slip. Holding a weight in each hand, place your arms on the floor on either side of the ball. Row your elbows up to a 90-degree angle using your upper back to do the work. Lower and repeat (12-15 reps).

3. Lunges

Beginner: Place the resistance ball between your lower back and the wall. Place your right foot forward and your left foot back, almost to the wall. Make sure both feet are facing forward. Bend both knee and lower your body toward the floor. Make sure your front knee does not go further forward then your shoelaces. Engage your front bum cheek muscle and straighten back up to the starting position (six reps each leg).

Advanced: Do the lunges without the support of the ball. Start with your feet together. Step your right foot back into a lunge. Engage your left bum muscles to bring the right leg back to the starting position (10 reps, then switch to the left leg for 10).

CIRCUIT 2

1. Biceps curl to shoulder press

Beginner and advanced: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, shoulders back and core tight. Hold a weight in each hand. Curl both hands up toward your shoulders and then press the weights up over your head. Slowly return back to the starting position (12-15 reps).

2. French press

Beginner: Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet on the floor. Hold a weight in each hand and straighten your arms over your shoulders. Keep your upper arms still and bend at your elbows so the weights come down to either side of your ears. Finish by straightening your arms up to the starting position (12-15 reps).

Advanced: Put your feet up on a resistance ball. The form for the French press is exactly the same as above, but as you straighten your arms lift your hips up in the air. As you lower the weights, lower your hips (12-15 reps).

3. Plank

Beginner: Lie on your stomach and come up onto your forearms and your knees. Make sure your hips to your shoulders make a straight line. Do not round or arch your back and make sure your core muscles are engaged (hold 10-30 seconds).

Advanced: The exercise is the same as above, but come up onto your toes instead of your knees (hold 20 seconds to one minute).

CIRCUIT 3

1. Push-ups

Beginner: Come down onto the mat. Your hands should be slightly farther apart than your shoulders and your body should be held at a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Bend your elbows and lower your chest down to the ground. Straighten your arms and push yourself up to the starting position. Keep your abs tight throughout the motion and your back in a neutral position (eight-10 reps).

Advanced: Kneel in front of a resistance ball and then roll out so your legs are on the ball and your hands are on the floor. The closer the ball is to your feet the harder the exercise will be. Perform the push-ups from this position (12-15 reps).

2. Bent-over rows

Beginner and advanced: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a weight in each hand. Hinge forward at your hips while keeping your back in a neutral position and your core engaged. Start with your arms straight and perpendicular to the floor, palms facing each other. Use your upper back muscles to row your elbows up toward the ceiling, then slowly lower (12-15 reps).

3. Squat

Beginner: Place a resistance ball between your lower back and a wall. Place your feet about a foot farther forward than your hips. Bend at hips and knees and lower your bum to the floor. Keep your hips pressed back against the ball and don't let your knees pass your toes. Engage your bum muscles and press back up to the starting position (10 reps).

Advanced: Perform the squat away from the wall with no ball. (15 reps).

CARDIO

Beginner: Aim for 35-minute sessions. Keep your heart rate between 60 and 85 per cent of your max. This week, do "sandwich" workouts, using two different machines. Do 10 minutes on one machine, 15 on the other, then another 10 on the first one.

Advanced: For two of your three sessions, do 45 minutes-long "sandwich" workouts. Pick two different machines. Do 15 minutes on one machine, 15 minutes on the other, then another 15 minutes on the first one. Keep your heart rate between 60 and 85 per cent of your max. For your third cardio workout, do interval training: A five-minute warm-up, then do five sets in which you alternate two minutes of intense effort with three minutes of more moderate activity. Cool down for five minutes.

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