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Week Six: Holiday bootcamp pulls out all the stops


What you need

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

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What you need to know

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


Cardio Intervals (NEW)

Before each circuit, do two to five minutes of cardio.

Beginners: Do a combination of all the low-impact aerobics described over the past five weeks (high knees, bum kicks, jumping jacks).

Advanced: Do a combination of all the high-impact aerobics described over the past five weeks (high knees, bum kicks, jumping jacks), plus burpies. To perform a burpie: Bring your hands down to the ground and jump your feet back into a plank position. Then jump your feet back toward your hands to stand up.

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Difficulty: Beginner

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

Cardio: Three sessions a week.

Difficulty: Advanced

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

Cardio: Three sessions a week, plus 10 minutes of additional cardio on two of your strength-training days.

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1. Bench press (NEW)

Beginners : 12 to 15 repetitions.

Advanced : Perform with your head and shoulders on a resistance ball, feet on the floor and hips in the air. This week, add a hip lift: As you lower the weights, lower your hips. As you press the weights up, squeeze your bum muscles and lift your hips. (12 to 15 reps)

2. Wide row with stomach on ball (NEW)

Beginner and advanced: This week, hold the weights at the top of the motion for two counts and then take four counts to lower them. (12 to 15 reps)

3. Lunges (NEW)

Beginner: : This week, do lunges without the ball. Place your right foot forward and left foot backward, so that when you bend your knees they both make 90-degree angles. Make sure both feet are facing forward. Bend both knees and lower your body toward the floor. Make sure your front knee doesn't go further forward than your shoelaces. Straighten back up to the starting position. (10 per leg, holding light free weights)

Advanced : This week, do walking lunges: Do a lunge with your right foot forward, and as you press up step your left foot forward. Walk across the floor holding free weights until you have completed 10 reps per leg.


1. Biceps curl to shoulder press

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

Advanced : Sit on the ball and lift one leg in the air as you perform the exercise. (12 to 15 reps)

2. French press (NEW)

Beginner : This week, add a hip bridge: Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet on the floor. Hold a weight in each hand and straighten your arms directly over your shoulders. Keep your upper arms still and bend at your elbows so the weights come down to either side of your ears. As you straighten your arms back up to the starting position, use your bum muscles to lift your hips. Lower your hips and the weights. (12 to 15 reps)

Advanced : Put your feet up on a resistance ball. As you straighten your arms, lift your hips in the air. After 15 reps, put the weights on the floor but keep your bum off the ground. Keep your hips up and bend your knees to roll the ball in toward you.

3. Plank (NEW)

Beginner: : This week, do a full plank: Come up onto your forearms and toes. Make sure that from toes to shoulders is a straight line. Do not round or arch your back, and make sure your core muscles are engaged. (Hold 10 to 30 seconds.)

Advanced: : In plank position, alternate lifting one leg off the floor. (This week, hold each leg up for five seconds.) (20 reps)


1. Push-ups (NEW)

Beginner: This week, hold at the bottom for two counts before pushing yourself back up to starting position. (10 to 15 reps)

Advanced: : Kneel in front of a resistance ball, then roll out, legs on the ball and hands on the floor. As you push yourself away from the floor, pull your knees in to your chest. The ball should roll with your knees. Slowly return your legs to the start position and go directly back into your push-up. (8 to 10 reps)

2. Bent-over rows (NEW)

Beginner and advanced : Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a weight in each hand. Hinge forward at your hips. Start with your arms straight and perpendicular to the floor, palms facing each other. Row your elbows up toward the ceiling. This week, add a four-count hold at the top, then slowly lower. (12 to 15 reps)

3. Squat

Beginner: This week, perform with no ball or the support of the wall. Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. Place your feet about a foot ahead of your hips. Bend at hips and knees and lower your bum to the floor. Press back up to the starting position. (10 to 15 reps, holding light weights)

Advanced: : Perform with no ball and hold at the bottom of the squat for five seconds. (15 reps, holding light weights)


1. Side planks (NEW)

Beginner: Come down onto your side on the mat. Position yourself so that your elbow is under your shoulder and your knees are stacked on top of each other. Lift your hips off the ground. (Hold for 20 to 30 seconds each side.)

Advanced : Same as above, but come up on your feet. (Hold for 30 seconds to one minute each side, then lower your hips to the floor.) (5 reps)

2. V hold (NEW)

Beginner: Sit on a mat. Lean back 20 to 30 degrees with your chest out and your back straight. Engage your abdominals and hold for 10 to 30 seconds. This week, for the last 10 seconds, twist side to side.

Advanced : Same as above, but keep your feet off the ground.

3. Bird dog

Beginner and advanced : Get down on the mat on hands and knees. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Keep your pelvis and chest stable and straighten your opposite arm and leg. (10 reps each side)


Beginner: This week, do 30-minute sessions on a different machine each day. Keep your heart rate at 60 to 85 per cent of your max for the duration.

Advanced: This week, do three stand-alone cardio sessions and tack on 10 minutes of cardio to two of your strength workouts. Two of your cardio-only workouts should be 30 to 45 minutes in duration. Keep your heart rate at 60 to 85 per cent of your max. Try to do different activities for each of your workouts. Also, do one day of interval training: Do a five-minute warm-up and then five sets in which you alternate two minutes of intense effort with three minutes of more moderate activity. Cool down for five minutes.


Avoid eating after 8 p.m.

If you're watching your waistline, it's a good idea to set a cutoff time for eating dinner (unless, of course, you work a night shift).

If you've had an unusually long day and there's no avoiding eating after 8 p.m., keep it light - a bowl of soup, a small sandwich or fruit and yogurt.

While there's no scientific evidence that eating after a certain time can make you gain weight, my experience tells me people who habitually eat their main meal late have more difficulty controlling their weight. And research has shown that your body burns calories less efficiently later in the day.

My clients who stick to the 8 p.m. rule also say they sleep better, wake up with an appetite for breakfast and feel less bloated in the morning. The rule may also help you break the after-dinner snacking


Leslie Beck

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