Admit it: Your motivation skyrockets whenever you’re challenged. Throwback to that time your roommate dared you to eat an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting—and you crushed it. (No? Just me?)
Well, get ready for a challenge that will make you feel a hell of a lot better afterward. Women’s Health teamed up with NASM-certified fitness trainer Bree Branker to create the Women’s Health Summer Workout Challenge, a 4-week plan designed to get you some serious results. You’ll build muscle, sweat buckets, and work your way to a stronger body.
Don’t stress if you’ve never even picked up a dumbbell. “The moves are quite foundational, so this is great for all levels,” says Branker. “To make it more advanced, simply add heavier weight and complete extra reps!
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Every week of the challenge, you’ll do four workouts: Lower-Body, Upper-Body, Full-Body, and Abs. You also have the option to do a cross-training workout one day, and take two rest days. As you go through the challenge, reference this calendar to keep track of which workouts to tackle day-to-day:
You can find links to each workout routine below:
Monday: Upper-Body Workout
Tuesday: Lower-Body Workout
Thursday: Abs Workout
Friday: Full-Body Workout
Bree’s Tip: Yoga and Pilates are great for cross-training days. The bodyweight moves help you get even stronger, and all that stretching will help you perform better during other workouts.
Each week, you’ll focus on a new mini-goal. Week one, master your form. “These moves work wonders for lean, toned muscle mass if they’re done properly,” says Branker. Not to mention, proper form means optimal results and less risk of injury.
During week two, try increasing the number of reps you crank out per set. So if you did 10 reps in 40 seconds the first go-round, aim for 15, and so on.
For week three, Branker suggests upping your weights, especially if you’re working on building more muscle mass—just make sure your form is solid before doing so. “If you’re compensating to keep the weight, drop it,” she says. “It’s all about dialing in and listening to your body.”
Then, in week four, challenge yourself to do another round (or two) of the circuit. How do you know it’s time to level-up? “Take note of how long you feel breathless after a workout,” says Branker. “If your heart rate returns to normal so quickly that you’ve clearly got more in the tank, use it!”
As far as motivation goes, Branker suggests rewarding yourself for reaching each milestone in your fitness goals (think: completing one week of the challenge; squeezing in an extra round during abs day). “It can be reservations at your favorite restaurant, that new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing, whatever! But I love treating myself!”
Speaking of treating yourself…be sure to actually take advantage of those rest days. “Make plans to chill,” says Branker. “Maybe it’s a movie, a dinner, or show. Deliberately put yourself in a situation where you aren’t active.”
And, most importantly, “Have fun! If it’s not fun, you won’t want to do it,” says Bree. “Find a workout buddy, a great playlist, a cute fitness outfit—and make the time you spend on this challenge time you look forward to.”
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