Tone Your Entire Body With This 1 Move

Tone Your Entire Body With This 1 Move

Short on time? Don’t skip the strength-training session u2014 get playful with the plank! By doing multitasking variations of this basic move| you can target your arms| back| core| legs| and booty to chisel out a stronger| more toned you.

| Plank Jacks

Take your jumping jacks to the floor for this plank variation that not only works your arms| core| and lower body| it’ll also get your heart pumping.

  • Begin in plank position with your feet together. Keep your upper body stable and engage your abs.
  • Begin doing jumping jacks with your legs. Hop them wide| then hop them together. Jump as quickly as you want.
  • Do a total of 30 jumping jacks| which counts as one set. Then complete two more sets.

| Two-Point Plank

This exercise might remind you of the quadruped (a crunchless ab exercise) on crack. It’s superhard| but the payoff is a stable torso.

  • Start in a plank position. Cheat your right leg toward your center line| and lift your left leg off the ground so your heel is even with your pelvis.
  • Keeping your torso steady| reach your right arm forward. Really brace through the abs by pulling your navel to your spine. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Keeping your torso stable| bring your right elbow to your left knee under your body. Do not round your back or twist your spine| and keep your pelvis down. Then reach the arm and leg out and away from each other. This counts as one rep.
  • Do three sets of five to seven reps on each side.

| Elbow Plank

This is a killer move for your core| legs| and upper body. When holding elbow plank| be sure your shoulders are stacked over your elbows and your body is in one straight line.

  • Start on the floor| resting on your forearms and knees.
  • Step your feet out one at a time| coming into a plank position.
  • Contract your abs to prevent your booty from sticking up or sinking. Your spine should be parallel to the floor| with your abs pulling toward the ceiling.
  • Hold 30 seconds| and work your way up to one minute as you get stronger.

| Elbow Plank With Donkey Kick

Elbow plank is tough enough| but make it even more challenging by adding a booty-strengthening donkey kick.

  • From elbow plank position| bend your right knee| flex your heel| and press your foot up toward the ceiling without moving your pelvis. Lower the bent leg slightly| and repeat for a total of 15 to 20 repetitions. Then switch sides. Do three sets on each leg.

| Up-Down Plank

Strengthen your arms| upper back| and core with this challenging exercise called up-down plank.

  • Come into plank position with your arms and legs straight.
  • Beginning with the right side first| lower your elbow to the floor where your hand was. Then lower your left elbow to the floor where your left hand was (now you are in elbow plank| with your forearms parallel).
  • Then come back into the starting plank position onto your right hand and then back onto your left. This completes one rep.
  • Perform 10 reps starting with your right elbow. Then reverse directions by bringing your left elbow down first for an additional 10 reps.

| Side Plank Leg Lift

This variation of plank called side plank leg lift targets your shoulders| waist| abs| back| outer thighs| and glutes.

  • Place your right elbow on the ground. Extend both legs out so that your body is in one straight line and you’re balancing on the outside edge of your right foot.
  • Flex both feet if you can| and either rest your top hand on your upper hip or extend it in the air. Keeping your spine lengthened and your abs engaged| lift your left leg up just higher than your top hip. Then slowly lower it back to your bottom leg.
  • Do three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions on each side.

| Easy Knee-Tuck Crunches

Capitalize on the instability of an exercise ball| and try the tuck crunch. This move strengthens your core while toning your arms| chest| shoulders| and lower abs.

  • Get into a plank with your shins on the ball.
  • Pull your knees toward your chest| and then shoot your legs back out. Keep your body in a plank position the entire time.
  • Do three sets of 15 to 20 crunches.

| Reverse Plank

This yoga-inspired tabletop lift will tone your triceps| quads| glutes| and abs using a reverse-plank variation.

  • Start in a tabletop position. Inhale and| as you exhale| lower your hips and straighten your legs so your hips are hovering above the floor. To make this move more challenging| hold each position longer.
  • Do three sets of 15 to 20 reps| flowing from one to the other| pivoting on your hands and heels.

| Reverse Plank With Leg Lift

Try this variation of the reverse plank to target your shoulders| legs| and abs.

  • Begin sitting on your tush with your legs straight. Bring your palms a few inches behind you| fingertips facing the toes.
  • Press into your feet and lift your bum off the ground. Try to keep your body in one diagonal line. You can also do this exercise on your elbows if it bothers your wrists.
  • Alternate between lifting your right leg up and then your left. Move with control| making the movements slow and steady| and keeping the hips lifted.
  • Complete three sets of 15 to 20 lifts on each leg.

| Circling Plank

Grab an exercise ball for this move that tones your upper body and your lower abs.

  • Begin in an Elbow Plank with your forearms resting on the top of a ball.
  • Keeping your core strong and your body still| use your arms to roll the ball in small counterclockwise circles.
  • Do five circles in this direction and five clockwise. This counts as one set.
  • Complete three sets.

| Plank Row

Add some rowing action to your plank to target not only your arms and back| but your core and glutes too. Talk about a full-body exercise!

  • Start in a plank position with your legs wider than hip distance; the wider stance makes you more stable. Hold onto your dumbbells| keeping your wrist locked to protect the joint.
  • With your core tight and your glutes engaged| exhale| stabilizing your torso as you lift your left elbow to row; feel your left shoulder blade sliding toward your spine as you bend your elbow up toward the ceiling.
  • Keeping your neck long and energized| return the weight to the ground| and repeat the movement on your right side.
  • Do 10 reps per arm| and repeat for three sets.

| Side Elbow Plank With a Twist

Adding a twist to a side plank challenges your balance| works your obliques| and tones your shoulders!

  • Come into a side elbow plank on your right side| with your feet stacked one on top of the other. Keep your weight on your right elbow with your fingers reaching away from your body.
  • Place your left arm behind your head| and inhale to prepare.
  • Exhale| and pull your navel to your spine| engaging your deep abs. Rotate your left ribcage toward the floor. Stay there for a second| and deepen your abdominal connection by pulling your navel in toward your spine even more.
  • Return to the starting position| and repeat seven more times for a total of eight reps| then switch sides. Repeat series again on your left side.

| Plank With Lateral Arm Reach

With this plank variety| balance and control are key. It’s definitely a move that will have you feeling the burn.

  • Start in a plank position.
  • Keeping your torso stable| slowly reach your left arm out to your side. Brace through the abs by pulling your navel to your spine. Hold this position for five seconds. If you feel too unstable| try moving your right hand so it is under the center of your chest rather than under shoulder right shoulder.
  • Keeping your torso stable| bring your arm back to the plank position. Do not round your back or twist your spine.
  • Repeat this same motion on the other side| extending your right arm to your side.This counts as one rep.
  • Do three sets of five to seven reps.

| Plank Side Walk

For shapely deltoids| take your plank for a sideways walk with this move that’ll target the core as well as the upper body.

  • Begin in plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders| body in one straight line.
  • Simultaneously cross your right hand over your left| as you step your left foot to the left. Then simultaneously step your left hand and right foot to the left| so you’re back in plank position. Your hands move together as your feet step apart.
  • Repeat this for five steps to the left| and five steps to the right to complete a rep. Be sure to keep the hips low as you move| drawing the navel toward the spine.
  • Repeat four more more times for a total of five reps.

| Side-Plank Crunch

We love how this move targets the entire side of the body.

  • Begin in a side elbow plank with your left elbow down and your right hand behind your head.
  • Keeping your torso stable and your waist lifted| bring your right leg up toward your shoulder to lightly tap your right elbow.
  • Lengthen your right leg back to the starting position to complete one rep.
  • Do 10 reps on each side to complete a set. Do three complete sets.

What You Need to Know About Adding Muscle to Your Frame

It seems that getting stronger is on almost everyone’s New Year’s resolution list this year. But just wanting it won’t make it happen. Just going to the gym and lifting weights without a plan won’t necessarily make you stronger either. There are many nuances you’ll need to consider before even getting to the gym. Here are some tried-and-true methods to get you stronger much faster than you ever thought possible!

According to Micah LaCerte, CPT and owner of Hitch Fit, “The only way to get stronger is continuing to add weight to the movements you are doing in the gym.”

But if lifting heavy things alone were the solution, nobody would ever have the dreaded muffin top or arm jiggle. The secret is in how you approach your weight-training efforts. According to trainer Brian Pankau, CPT, you should focus on basic moves and approaches. That means doing simple moves like squats, lunges, chest presses, arm curls, rows, and the like while remembering to “add more weight when the final set for a specific exercise is completed too easily.” The focus should be on hitting every major muscle group in your body with this progressive approach.Related: Are You Using the Right Size Dumbbells?

Now that you know what moves to do and how to increase weight, you need to know about reps and sets. Sure, you could just lift and lift until you’ve exhausted your body, but weightlifting has a simpler and more scientific approach. Your best bet is to focus on doing a few sets of each exercise for about 10 to 12 repetitions, or reps, each. That means you would do each exercise about 30 to 36 times each, but with a 30-to-60-second pause between every set of 10 to 12 reps. This allows your muscles to rest in between sets, so you can get the most out of them every time you lift.

Related: A Video Tutorial on How to Master the Burpee

How do you start? Glad you asked! According to Pankau: “Beginners should always stick to lighter loads while working on proper form and technique for exercises. This develops better training habits in the earlier stages and also increases joint range of motion properly to prevent injuries.”

But that isn’t everything. In fact, LaCerte told us that getting stronger really comes down to two essential factors: proper nutrition in conjunction with planned, progressive weightlifting.

The nutrition part may sound simple, but LaCerte believes that “you need to have a lot of focus on it to stay on track ¡ª when you’re building strength and muscle, you need more calories than when you’re trying to cut weight.” While you may think that the weightlifting aspect is the more complex part of the equation, the truth is that it really comes down to the basic principle of “lifting heavier to get strong, which builds muscle,” according to LaCerte.

Related: Should You Run Before You Lift?

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography/Kat Borchart

5 Ways to Ease Sore Muscles

5 Ways to Ease Sore Muscles

A few intense TRX sessions at the gym| and I feel like a zombie who’s been hit by a truck. Sore muscles are never comfortable| but I wear them with a badge of honor knowing I pushed my body a little harder than usual. On those days after I’ve gone a little overboard| relief is definitely in order u2014 here are my go-to ways of easing sore muscles.

Related: What You Need to Know About Exercising With Sore Muscles

| Apply Heat and Say| “Ahh . . .””

Whether it’s a hot tub| steam or sauna room| or just a soak in my tub at home| a little heat always does wonders for sore muscles. Applying heat to muscles reduces pain by increasing blood flow to the area| which helps the small muscle tears causing the pain heal faster.

| Stretch It Out and Move About

After working out| a good stretch session is a must u2014 that stretching doesn’t relieve the lingering pain of a hard fitness session| but it can help make muscle fibers healthier and more elastic.

On days when stretching is not enough to relieve pain| light cardio the day after an intense workout improves circulation| warming up your body u2014 and we already know that a little heat goes a long way to help the pain go away!

| Rub the Pain Away

As if any of us needs an excuse for a massage| getting one is a great way to relieve muscle tension and pain. Pamper yourself with a professional massage| ask a friend to do the rubbing for you| or DIY with a foam roller or tennis ball.

| Cool Yourself Off

There’s a reason elite athletes swear by the post-workout ice bath u2014 it works. The cold temperature constricts blood vessels| which reduces swelling. And when you come out of the bath| your body warms up quickly| improving circulation| which also helps with the healing process. If you’re not a fan of shocking cold temps| use ice to spot-treat a specific muscle group.

| If All Else Fails . . .

Even with the best care| we sometimes need a little something extra to ease away the pain. Don’t be ashamed to take an ibuprofen; it might not help you heal any faster| but it can definitely take the edge off. Give yourself a day or two to rest and recuperate before heading into the next intense workout.

The 10 Stages of Getting Pumped For a Workout

The 10 Stages of Getting Pumped For a Workout

The struggle to get up and exercise is real. Whether it be as soon as you wake up in the morning or right after you get off work| the spark to put on your gym gear and break a sweat isn’t always there. Even if you’re feeling lazy| you know that your fitness regimen is an important routine u2014 you know| you live longer and all that good stuff. In other words| put on your game face and confront your worst enemy| even if it’s a single dumbbell. Here are the 10 stages of getting yourself pumped up for exercise. We bet you can relate.

Source: Universal Pictures

| That Superearly Alarm Goes Off

And your bed is feeling really comfy right now . . .

| You Absentmindedly Get Your Morning Carbs In

Because you can’t do that dreadful workout on an empty stomach.

| You Give Yourself a Good Pep Talk

May the pumping up commence.

| You Put In Your Headphones and Blast That Music

Nothing gets you going like your favorite workout songs.

Source: Buena Vista Pictures

| But You Get a Little Too Excited

Wait| why were you even getting so pumped? Oh yeah| the workout . . .

| So You Start to Give Up Again

One squat is good enough| right?

| Luckily Your Workout Buddies Motivate You

Peppy friends come in real handy right about now.

| And You Finally Get Into Your Groove

Hey| this actually feels kind of great.

| Once You’re Finished| You Feel So Accomplished

Yes| you’re a fitness god.

| So Celebrate Your Workout Victory!

Then get up and do it all over again tomorrow morning.

#ResolutionFail Already? These Tweets Prove You’re Not Alone

It’s that time of year when we commit to being healthier. Yay! But since old habits die hard, if you’ve already broken your resolutions, these tweets will sound all too familiar. [Shakes head in disappointment.]

Got ready for the gym, packed my gear and went for a burger instead ??>???? #resolutionfail¡ª Priya Kumar (@sayitrightltd) January 2, 2016

Just saw someone donate exercise equipment to Goodwill. Didn’t think that would have happened until at least February. #resolutionfail¡ª BJ Bungard (@bjbungard) January 2, 2016

I’ve already failed every single one of my New Years resolutions and it hasn’t even been a week¡ª kimmiee (@pumpkiim) January 5, 2016

My New Year’s resolution is to give up alcohol. Oops, I meant: My New Year’s resolution is to give up. Alcohol! #newyearsresolution¡ª Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) January 4, 2016

To eat French toast or to eat healthy??? Gotta go with the French toast! So much for my New Years resolution!??¡ª Peyton List (@PeytonList) January 1, 2016

New Years resolution- Complete all my other New Years resolutions ¡ª Alex Lee (@AlexLeeWorld) January 1, 2016

My New Year’s resolution was to lose weight. Thanks to Schmidt’s in Columbus, I am right on track. pic.twitter.com/rVaaiOp5yr¡ª Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) January 4, 2016

Oops forgot to workout yesterday and today, looks like my New Years resolution will have to wait till next year¡ª sar bear (@sarahlizzie23) January 3, 2016

New Years resolution #17: become as fat as I was the very first time that I ever thought I was fat.¡ª Kenzie Fei (@KenzieFei) January 5, 2016

Bought my twin sister workout clothes for our birthday and we have yet to lift anything but a fork. #ResolutionFail¡ª Melinda Ann Prince (@melindaprince4) January 4, 2016

It’s impossible to keep New Year’s resolutions around this office #freelunch #resolutionfail¡­ https://t.co/NokPEuHFv7¡ª Kristin Deutsch (@KristinLeighDeu) January 5, 2016

R.I.P. to all the New Years resolutions that have already been broken.¡ª Grown Man Quotes (@UnsungQuotes) January 2, 2016

Jan 1: New Years ResolutionJan 2: ok start today.Jan 3: ok I mean it now.Dec 31: damn that went quick. Try again tomorrow¡ª i ken see you (@kentaitin) December 30, 2015

Keep in mind that even if you fall off the healthy wagon, it’s OK! Don’t give up completely. Remember that each day is a new opportunity to do something good for yourself. And even small things can make a huge difference, so try these 52 healthy resolutions anyone can keep.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography/THEM TOO

A Step-by-Step Guide to Reaching Your Goal Weight in 2016

The jeans don’t lie. You knew you let yourself go a little bit, and after throwing the stupid bathroom scale away because it said you were (insert red-flag number here), you went for the true test ¡ª slipping on your favorite jeans. Ugh. Not being able to pull your pants past your thighs sure does tell you something. If you’re at a loss as to how to begin, here’s a no-fuss, straightforward, 11-step guide to losing weight.

    Calories per day: Losing weight is all about creating a calorie deficit. One pound equals 3,500 calories, which breaks down to 500 calories a day. Do a combo of exercise and cutting calories to reach 500, and you’ll lose a pound a week. You can meet with a nutritionist or your doctor to find a more specific daily calorie count, but don’t dip below 1,200 as it will slow down your metabolism.Keep track: Monitor your calories as accurately as you can. Look up calorie amounts, and write them down in a food journal, or use a weight-loss app. Everything you put in your mouth gets written down ¡ª yes, even that handful of M&M’s you grabbed off your co-worker’s desk! It may not seem like much, but at 70 calories, those little nibbles will add up. Then weigh yourself once or twice a week to keep track of your progress.Measure and repeat: Have measuring cups, spoons, and food scales on hand to measure correct portions. Eyeballing a cup of cereal is not exactly accurate, and you’d be surprised how easy it is to overestimate when you’re hungry. In the first few months, you’ll need to measure everything, from the milk you pour into that bowl of cereal to the dressing you drizzle on your salad. After a while, you’ll become familiar with what correct portions look like. Eat five times a day: In order to prevent that famished feeling that drives us to overeat, plan on eating three meals and two snacks a day, timing them so you eat every two to three hours. Here’s a sample schedule:7 a.m. ¡ª Breakfast9:30 a.m. ¡ª Snack12:30 p.m. ¡ª Lunch3:30 p.m. ¡ª Snack6:30 p.m. ¡ª DinnerDon’t skip meals or snacks to save calories since it’ll slow down your metabolism and cause weight gain. If you’re up late, enjoy a snack after dinner, but be sure to finish it at least an hour or two before bed, so digestive issues don’t keep you up ¡ª getting enough sleep will help you lose weight.

Related: An Hour After Breakfast, You’re Hungry ¡ª What Gives?!

    What to eat: Every time you nosh, be sure to include protein to satisfy your hunger, fiber to fill you up, and healthy carbs to sustain your energy. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be between 300 and 500 calories each, and the two snacks 150 each. Break them down to fit your needs, but you might want your midday meal to be the highest to ensure you have enough time to burn off those calories. Save calories: Find simple ways to cut calories, whether it’s swapping your daily Coke for water, using one slice of cheese on your sandwich instead of two, substituting spaghetti squash for pasta, or choosing a turkey patty instead of beef. Plan ahead: Dealing with hunger is the worst part about trying to lose weight, so in order to prevent those pangs from pushing you to grab the nearest cookie, plan out your meals and snacks ahead of time. Write out what you’ll be eating for the entire week, and you’ll be even more successful if you pack and label foods for each day. Get moving: Diet is one part of the weight-loss puzzle, and the other part is exercise. In order to burn calories to reduce your overall body fat, include 60 minutes of heart-pumping exercise five times a week. A leisurely walk around the block unfortunately isn’t enough. We’re talking running, biking, swimming, and high-intensity classes for cardio, strength training to build fat-burning muscles, and stretching to keep those muscles supple and to prevent injury. Here’s a 60-minute workout to get you started that incorporates all three. Set small goals and celebrate them: Losing weight is a long journey, so it’s helpful to set smaller goals along the way to your big goal. Find healthy ways to celebrate those milestones such as a pedicure after 10 workouts or a cute workout top after losing five pounds.Come to some tough realizations: The first one is that diets aren’t the answer. There is no quick-fix diet and no one food you can or cannot eat that has magical slimming powers. Anything that sounds too restrictive or not nutritionally sound is not the way to go. Find a way of eating that can be sustained for the rest of your life, where you eat healthy most of the time and allow for occasional splurges. The second realization is that you can’t go back to your old habits once the weight melts away. If you gained weight chomping on half a dozen doughnuts each morning, you can bet your sweet new buns that you’ll gain the weight back if you head to that bakery once the scale says what you want it to. Be patient and remember why you’re doing it: Just as those pounds slowly crept on, losing weight the right way takes time, which means dropping about a pound or two a week. Practice patience, reveling in each pound lost, and when you feel like giving in to that second cupcake at your friend’s birthday party, have one enormously personal reason you want to lose weight that resonates strong and keeps you motivated no matter what. Thinking “I want to be there for my family” is sure to be more effective than “I want to look good in my jeans.”

Related: The Simple Tip That Can Help You Lose Weight (and Always Feel Satisfied)

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

A Step-by-Step Guide to Reaching Your Goal Weight in 2016

The jeans don’t lie. You knew you let yourself go a little bit| and after throwing the stupid bathroom scale away because it said you were (insert red-flag number here)| you went for the true test ¡ª slipping on your favorite jeans. Ugh. Not being able to pull your pants past your thighs sure does tell you something. If you’re at a loss as to how to begin| here’s a no-fuss| straightforward| 11-step guide to losing weight.

    Calories per day: Losing weight is all about creating a calorie deficit. One pound equals 3|500 calories| which breaks down to 500 calories a day. Do a combo of exercise and cutting calories to reach 500| and you’ll lose a pound a week. You can meet with a nutritionist or your doctor to find a more specific daily calorie count| but don’t dip below 1|200 as it will slow down your metabolism.Keep track: Monitor your calories as accurately as you can. Look up calorie amounts| and write them down in a food journal| or use a weight-loss app. Everything you put in your mouth gets written down yes| even that handful of M&M’s you grabbed off your co-worker’s desk! It may not seem like much| but at 70 calories| those little nibbles will add up. Then weigh yourself once or twice a week to keep track of your progress.Measure and repeat: Have measuring cups| spoons| and food scales on hand to measure correct portions. Eyeballing a cup of cereal is not exactly accurate| and you’d be surprised how easy it is to overestimate when you’re hungry. In the first few months| you’ll need to measure everything| from the milk you pour into that bowl of cereal to the dressing you drizzle on your salad. After a while| you’ll become familiar with what correct portions look like. Eat five times a day: In order to prevent that famished feeling that drives us to overeat| plan on eating three meals and two snacks a day| timing them so you eat every two to three hours. Here’s a sample schedule:7 a.m. Breakfast9:30 a.m. Snack12:30 p.m. Lunch3:30 p.m. Snack6:30 p.m. DinnerDon’t skip meals or snacks to save calories since it’ll slow down your metabolism and cause weight gain. If you’re up late| enjoy a snack after dinner| but be sure to finish it at least an hour or two before bed| so digestive issues don’t keep you up ¡ª getting enough sleep will help you lose weight.

Related: An Hour After Breakfast| You’re Hungry ¡ª What Gives?!

    What to eat: Every time you nosh| be sure to include protein to satisfy your hunger| fiber to fill you up| and healthy carbs to sustain your energy. Breakfast| lunch| and dinner can be between 300 and 500 calories each| and the two snacks 150 each. Break them down to fit your needs| but you might want your midday meal to be the highest to ensure you have enough time to burn off those calories. Save calories: Find simple ways to cut calories| whether it’s swapping your daily Coke for water| using one slice of cheese on your sandwich instead of two| substituting spaghetti squash for pasta| or choosing a turkey patty instead of beef. Plan ahead: Dealing with hunger is the worst part about trying to lose weight| so in order to prevent those pangs from pushing you to grab the nearest cookie| plan out your meals and snacks ahead of time. Write out what you’ll be eating for the entire week| and you’ll be even more successful if you pack and label foods for each day. Get moving: Diet is one part of the weight-loss puzzle| and the other part is exercise. In order to burn calories to reduce your overall body fat| include 60 minutes of heart-pumping exercise five times a week. A leisurely walk around the block unfortunately isn’t enough. We’re talking running| biking| swimming| and high-intensity classes for cardio| strength training to build fat-burning muscles| and stretching to keep those muscles supple and to prevent injury. Here’s a 60-minute workout to get you started that incorporates all three. Set small goals and celebrate them: Losing weight is a long journey| so it’s helpful to set smaller goals along the way to your big goal. Find healthy ways to celebrate those milestones such as a pedicure after 10 workouts or a cute workout top after losing five pounds.Come to some tough realizations: The first one is that diets aren’t the answer. There is no quick-fix diet and no one food you can or cannot eat that has magical slimming powers. Anything that sounds too restrictive or not nutritionally sound is not the way to go. Find a way of eating that can be sustained for the rest of your life| where you eat healthy most of the time and allow for occasional splurges. The second realization is that you can’t go back to your old habits once the weight melts away. If you gained weight chomping on half a dozen doughnuts each morning| you can bet your sweet new buns that you’ll gain the weight back if you head to that bakery once the scale says what you want it to. Be patient and remember why you’re doing it: Just as those pounds slowly crept on| losing weight the right way takes time| which means dropping about a pound or two a week. Practice patience| reveling in each pound lost| and when you feel like giving in to that second cupcake at your friend’s birthday party| have one enormously personal reason you want to lose weight that resonates strong and keeps you motivated no matter what. Thinking “I want to be there for my family” is sure to be more effective than “I want to look good in my jeans.”

Related: The Simple Tip That Can Help You Lose Weight (and Always Feel Satisfied)

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

Drop 1 Pound by Next Week With This Plan

If you’re trying to drop pounds and new to the whole exercise scene, then knowing exactly what to do can be a struggle. Since cardio, strength training, stretching, and days of rest are all equally important, here’s a weekly schedule to help you balance it all out and still see results.

In order to lose one pound a week, you need to burn 3,500 calories per week or 500 per day. But exercise is just one piece of the weight-loss puzzle; if you utilize diet changes by cutting calories, then you won’t be bound to intense 500-calorie-burning workouts every day. The chart below will give you an example of how to exercise and cut calories in order to burn 3,500 calories per week.

*Check with your doctor before starting any type of exercise plan.

Day Workout Diet Caloric Deficit

MondayCardio: 60-minute walking-jogging workout (330 calories)Stretching: 10 minutes (40 calories)Cut 200 calories570TuesdayCardio: 30-minute bike ride at 14 mph (steady-state pace) (270 calories)Strength training and stretching: 60-minute fast-paced yoga class such as Vinyasa (269 calories)Cut 50 calories589WednesdayRest day or take a 20-minute walk at a 20-minute/mile pace (66 calories)Cut 250 calories316ThursdayCardio: 60-minute indoor cycling class (413 calories) or 45-minute vigorous swim (446 calories)Strength training: 20 minutes (119 calories)¡ª if you biked: 10-minutearm and shoulder workout and flat-abs workout¡ª if you swam: 10-minute leg and butt workout and 10-minute tighter-core workoutStretching: 10 minutes (40 calories)Cut 50 calories655FridayCardio: 20-minute run at 10-minute/mile pace (180 calories)Strength training and stretching: 60-minute fast-paced yoga class such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa, or Power (269 calories)Cut 50 calories499SaturdayCardio: 60-minute Zumba class (324 calories) or 60-minute hike/snowshoe (324 calories)Strength training: 20 minutes (119 calories)¡ª10-minute arms and core workoutStretching: 10 minutes (40 calories)Cut 100 calories583SundayRest day or take a 20-minute walk at a 20-minute/mile pace (66 calories)Cut 250 calories316

This is just an example of how you can break down your weekly workouts, so you can mix it up as you see fit with your schedule and exercise preferences. Each week, it’s best to include at least four cardio workouts (mix up the types and always stretch afterward) and two to three strength-training workouts. And don’t forget to throw in days of rest so your muscles have time to recover and get stronger.

**Calculations for calories burned are based on a 130-pound woman. Check this SparkPeople website for more accurate calculations based on your weight.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell

Drop 1 Pound by Next Week With This Plan

If you’re trying to drop pounds and new to the whole exercise scene| then knowing exactly what to do can be a struggle. Since cardio| strength training| stretching| and days of rest are all equally important| here’s a weekly schedule to help you balance it all out and still see results.

In order to lose one pound a week| you need to burn 3|500 calories per week or 500 per day. But exercise is just one piece of the weight-loss puzzle; if you utilize diet changes by cutting calories| then you won’t be bound to intense 500-calorie-burning workouts every day. The chart below will give you an example of how to exercise and cut calories in order to burn 3|500 calories per week.

*Check with your doctor before starting any type of exercise plan.

Day Workout Diet Caloric Deficit

MondayCardio: 60-minute walking-jogging workout (330 calories)Stretching: 10 minutes (40 calories)Cut 200 calories570TuesdayCardio: 30-minute bike ride at 14 mph (steady-state pace) (270 calories)Strength training and stretching: 60-minute fast-paced yoga class such as Vinyasa (269 calories)Cut 50 calories589WednesdayRest day or take a 20-minute walk at a 20-minute/mile pace (66 calories)Cut 250 calories316ThursdayCardio: 60-minute indoor cycling class (413 calories) or 45-minute vigorous swim (446 calories)Strength training: 20 minutes (119 calories) if you biked: 10-minutearm and shoulder workout and flat-abs workout if you swam: 10-minute leg and butt workout and 10-minute tighter-core workoutStretching: 10 minutes (40 calories)Cut 50 calories655FridayCardio: 20-minute run at 10-minute/mile pace (180 calories)Strength training and stretching: 60-minute fast-paced yoga class such as Ashtanga| Vinyasa| or Power (269 calories)Cut 50 calories499SaturdayCardio: 60-minute Zumba class (324 calories) or 60-minute hike/snowshoe (324 calories)Strength training: 20 minutes (119 calories) 10-minute arms and core workoutStretching: 10 minutes (40 calories)Cut 100 calories583SundayRest day or take a 20-minute walk at a 20-minute/mile pace (66 calories)Cut 250 calories316

This is just an example of how you can break down your weekly workouts| so you can mix it up as you see fit with your schedule and exercise preferences. Each week| it’s best to include at least four cardio workouts (mix up the types and always stretch afterward) and two to three strength-training workouts. And don’t forget to throw in days of rest so your muscles have time to recover and get stronger.

**Calculations for calories burned are based on a 130-pound woman. Check this SparkPeople website for more accurate calculations based on your weight.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell

How I Learned to Love Morning Workouts

As a 20-something living in a big city, squeezing in a workout is tough. Some days it feels like I have to choose between hitting the gym or heading to happy hour ¡ª but I want both! So, though I’m definitely not a morning person, I embarked on a mission to master the morning workout. But there was just one little issue . . .

To me, waking up earlier than needed is like a unique form of torture. It’s like there is an epic battle between my motivated self and my lazy self ¡ª a sort of tug-of-war between the comfort of my large, plush bed and the energizing hum of the gym. And though I’ve felt like I’m getting into the swing of things, I sometimes lose momentum and struggle all over again. Still, I feel like I’ve come closer to conquering this all-consuming battle, and the more I work at it, the more I notice certain tips and tricks that make it much easier to successfully get my butt out the door. Armed with this arsenal of ideas, the morning is yours!

Related: 5 Short Workouts, All 5 Minutes or Less

1. Set multiple alarms

When I say I set multiple alarms, I don’t mean two ¡ª I mean five or six, starting half an hour before I want to get up. If I’m not in the habit of getting up early to hit the gym, my body is not ready for the rude awakening, and I find myself hitting snooze and missing my workout. When you’re just getting into the habit, bombard yourself with obnoxious alarms and know that while you’re totally miserable in the moment, you’ll thank yourself later.

2. Lay out everything the night before

Shorts, check. Sports bra, check. Water bottle, keys . . . check, check. Scrambling around half delirious in the morning is not the most effective way to start the day. I’ve found that when I can plan ahead and have everything ready at arm’s reach, it’s much more likely I’ll make it out the door and to my 7 a.m. Spin class on time.

3. Make it a date

Some days it can be so difficult to get out of bed, especially when I know that there is nothing stopping me from staying snuggled under the covers. But when I know that someone is depending on me to show up, it’s much easier to get out of bed and get my act together. Convince a friend to meet you for a morning run, and you won’t be able to skip out.

4. Cut travel time

My gym is a 10-minute walk from home (or five-minute jog, if I’m feeling ambitious . . . ), and the quick commute means that I can sneak in every extra minute of sleep possible. Since a longer commute would mean getting up even earlier, finding a gym that was literally around the corner meant that making an excuse about travel time was no longer an option. Even if a nearby gym isn’t an option, running outside or doing a video in your living room can help you sneak in a workout, no matter how short on time you feel.

5. Leave no escape

At my gym, signing up for a class and then not showing up is a major no-no that can lead to a ding on your account. So to get myself out of bed and into the gym, I’ve started signing up for morning classes the night before. If I know there are consequences for not showing up, it’s more likely that I’ll get up and get my act together. If your gym is more forgiving, make your own ultimatums. Live with a roommate or a significant other? Pay them $5 if you sleep in ¡ª when your money is on the table, getting to the gym will seem easy.

6. Don’t sweat a slipup

Some days I miss the mark and end up skipping my workout, especially after indulging a little too much the night before. It’s important to accept that I’m not going to make my goal every time. If you miss a workout, don’t beat yourself up; just pay attention to what went wrong ¡ª were you up too late the night before? Did you just turn off your alarm instead of getting up? Listen to your body, and learn from what didn’t work instead of getting upset.

7. Plan a reward

Call me crazy, but one of my favorite treats is a refreshing, rich iced latte. Since they can be pretty pricey, I try to keep this delicious treat to something I enjoy on the weekend only. But I’ve found that if I promise myself a slightly sweet, strong, and milky cup of deliciousness on the way to work if I hit the gym first, it’s easier for me to face the day knowing that a treat is coming my way.

8. Crash early

OK, I admit it ¡ª this is the puzzle piece I consider my weakness. I’m a night owl, and as hard as I try to hit the hay at 9 p.m., I’ll just toss and turn until my body decides it’s ready for sleep, usually around 1:30 a.m. I’ve found the longer I work at adjusting my schedule, the easier it becomes, but there are still days I wish that I was able to magically pass out. I’ve learned that turning off the TV and closing my laptop an hour before hopping into bed does seem to help, so be sure to shut off the screens when you’re trying to go to bed earlier than normal.

9. Remember the results

I never expected that switching my workout routine from after work to before it would affect my mood throughout the day, but I swear it has. Though I may feel sluggish getting out the door, once I’ve sweated out my morning weariness, I leave the gym feeling seriously refreshed and invigorated. Maybe it’s the endorphins, or maybe it’s the fact that the day is now full of possibilities ¡ª but I am ready to hit the ground running. If you’re struggling to find the motivation, just remember the energy you will feel pulsing through your body as soon as you step out the doors and start the rest of your day.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Benjamin Stone