If you’re wondering how to get the most out of your gym membership or work out at home to maximum effect – try this progressive, weight-based training plan to help you get fitter and slimmer in a month. Compound exercises, such as squats, which use your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, lower back and upper body, are a great way to get a complete workout and save time. However, to see fast fat-loss you need to overload your muscles. The quickest way to tone your body is to apply high levels of resistance in a challenging but safe way. Working with greater force means your body has to make more adaptations, specifically to your muscle fibres. Tip: Do what you can to begin with but keep building on that level to tone your body.
➔ Get into the plank position, either on your knees or on your toes, depending on what you can do. Keep your back straight throughout and head in line with your spine.
➔ Have your hands slightly wider than your shoulders but also in line with them. Tuck your elbows in.
➔ Slowly lower your body to the floor.
➔ Pause at the bottom, then push back upwards as fast as you can
Body benefits: This compound move works your whole body but it adds definition and tone to your shoulders and backs of upper arms (triceps) as well as your core.
➔ Have your feet hip-width apart and your chest upright.
➔ Squat for a count of four keeping your back straight and sticking your bum back.
➔ Go as low as you can, aiming to get bum to heels. If your back curves forward, just go as low as you can. Pause at the bottom, then power back up for a count of one.
Body benefits: The squat is a wonderful exercise for engaging all major muscles, especially your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, lower back and abdominals.
➔ Stand with feet shoulderwidth apart.
➔ Keeping your back flat, bend your knees and jump upwards.
➔ Land as softly as you can.
Body benefits: Jumping revs up your metabolism so you will definitely get a sweat on! Vertical jumping uses your major leg muscles: Quads and glutes, as well as calves.
LOWER ABDOMINAL CRUNCHES
➔ Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor and arms down by your side.
➔ Draw your belly button towards your spine and squeeze your abs tight so you don’t arch your back.
➔ Keep your upper body on the ground and lift your feet up to the sky.
➔ Slowly lower your feet back down.
Body benefits: This is great for strengthening your deep, inner abdominals, called the transverse abdominis, which make up a band of muscle that cinches in your waist.
➔ Stand with your feet shoulderwidth apart.
➔ Keeping your back straight, bend your knees then quickly jump sideways, landing as softly as you can.
➔ With your knees still bent, jump back to the start position.
Body benefits: Side-to-side jumps place more emphasis on the smaller stabilising muscles in your legs and bum.
➔ Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
➔ Draw your belly button in towards your spine and squeeze your abs tight.
➔ Draw your right elbow up towards your left knee. Repeat this on the same side for the set amount of reps.
➔ Change sides and repeat reps.
Body benefits: For a more toned midriff, cross crunches are excellent. They work your obliques, which are at the side of your torso, and your upper abs.
SINGLE ARM ROWS
This move requires a dumbbell. Try using a 5 kg dumbbell to begin with.
➔ Using a step or weight bench, position your body so your left hand and knee are on the bench. Keep your back flat like a tabletop.
➔ Draw the weight up level with your body to a count of one, hold and squeeze your shoulder blade, then lower the weight for a count of four.
Body benefits: This move strengthens the often-weaker muscles of the shoulders and upper back, helping improve your posture.
This is the same as the regular bodyweight squat but it’s called a front squat because you hold a weight in front of you.
➔ Start with your feet hip-width apart and your chest upright. Hold a weight plate in front of your chest – try starting with a 5 kg plate.
➔ Slowly bend your knees as if you were sitting back on a chair, but keep your chest up high so you don’t curl forward.
➔ Squat as low as you can, preferably so the backs of your thighs touch your calves.
➔ Pause at the bottom, and then power back up.
Body benefits: This uses all your major large muscles. Holding the weight in front puts greater emphasis on your core.
You’ll need a bench or Swiss ball, plus hand weights. Try starting with 5 kg dumbbells.
➔ With weights in hand, lie on your back on the bench or ball, with knees bent, keeping your bum pushed up if you’re on a ball.
➔ Press both weights towards the ceiling for a count of one, ensuring your wrists always stay in line with your elbows.
➔ Pause at the top and slowly lower for a count of four.
Body benefits: This move is great for strengthening and toning your chest, triceps and shoulders.
FRONT/ BACK JUMPS
➔ Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
➔ Keeping your back flat, bend your knees and drop down, then with power, jump forwards landing softly.
➔ As soon as you land, explode up and jump back to your starting position.
Body benefits: This puts the emphasis on your hip and calf muscles. It improves balance and develops co-ordination, too.
Hold a barbell on your shoulders with 5 kg on each end. Safely place the bar on both shoulders.
➔ Stand with feet hip-width apart and chest upright, both hands on the bar.
➔ Squat down as far as you can, with your back straight and bum sticking out.
➔ Pause at the bottom, then power back up for a count of one.
Body benefis: You can typically use a heavier weight than in a front squat, so you’ll get better returns.
This exercise will really challenge your stomach muscles.
➔ Sit with knees bent, feet on the floor, hands by your head, back straight and leaning slightly back.
➔ Now, lift your feet off the floor so you form a V shape.
➔ Try to bring your chest and your knees closer together, keeping them straight.
➔ Lower back to the V, then do the next rep. Try to do all the reps before lowering.
Body benefits: A difficult exercise to master! But if you can, you’ll improve your balance and core strength for a super-toned stomach.
As the name suggests, this type of squat involves holding a weight above your head. Try starting with a weight plate of around 5 g but increase it as the week goes on.
➔ Stand with your feet hipwidth apart and your chest upright, with the weight already above your head.
➔ Slowly squat down keeping your back flat and chest upright. Go as low as you can without it hurting. Ideally get your bum close to the floor.
➔ Pause at the bottom and then power up for a count of one.
Body benefits: This really works your whole body, including your core muscles. It’s probably the most difficult squat to master, as your arms have to stabilise the weight above you.
➔ Get into a press-up position, keeping your back straight.
➔ Staying in that position, bring one knee up to your chest, then straighten it back out and put your toes back down.
➔ Do the same on the other leg.
Body benefits: This is one of the most effective exercises for your upper and middle abdominals.
For this workout, try setting the lat pulldown machine at around 20 to 25 kg.
➔ Sit so you are directly under the line of the bar.
➔ Keeping your back straight, pull the bar down for a count of one, until it’s just underneath your chin.
➔ Hold for a split second, then slowly release upwards for three.
Body benefits: This multi-joint exercise tones your arms and upper back.
➔ Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
➔ Keeping your back flat, bend your knees then jump up and turn 180 degrees to face the opposite wall, landing with soft knees.
➔ With knees still bent, jump straight back round to the start position.
Body benefits: This is an extremely metabolic exercise yet it requires even more balance and co-ordination than the other jumps.
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