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Lockdown love handles, Thanksgiving tummies and Christmas pie thighs — these are just a few of the things you may hope to leave behind in 2021.
But tacking on a few workouts a week isn’t going to get you your weight-loss wishes.
A recent study found that people who followed a rigorous hour-long workout on a daily basis lost substantially more weight than those who only got their heart rates up a few times a week.
That’s partly because people who exercise tend to eat more to make up for their exertions, but only up to a point — meaning those who only worked out a couple times a week canceled out any caloric losses, while those who exercised daily didn’t.
Even more interesting, the intense workout regimens appeared to boost levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin in the body, something occasional exercise did not do.
Logging 300 minutes of workouts weekly — or one hour, five days a week — and burning about 3,000 calories total, was the fat-burning sweet spot in the study, authored by Dr. Kyle Flack, an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Kentucky.
And while any exercise is better than no exercise, those looking to move the dial on the scale will need to put in the time — roughly 60 minutes every day.
Unfortunately, that level of commitment is enough to make most would-be workout warriors want to quit mid-battle of the bulge.
So, how to stay motivated when the task appears so daunting?
“The key is to not make fitness a game of how miserable you can make yourself,” celebrity fitness trainer John Basedow told The Post. “You have to make exercise something that’s enjoyable, something that fits into your lifestyle and something that you look forward to doing.”
Experts such as him say that the new routine, and all the endurance that comes with it, has to happen gradually. In other words, you can’t expect to instantaneously go from zero to beast mode.
Here, gym gurus offer the best at-home hour-long workouts that will help you build your strength — and commitment — in the new year.
John Basedow’s Power Hour: Cross-training and cardio
Basedow, the muscle-bound mastermind behind exercise empire Fitness Made Simple, says a healthy blend of cardio and weightlifting is the chef’s kiss for melting off those extra chunks without igniting the flames of workout burn-out.
“There’s nothing better than doing a combination of weight training and cardio for weight loss,” the Long Island native told The Post. “You can do 30 minutes of any cardio that gets you moving, gets your heart rate up and gets you into that fat-burning mode.”
After spending a few minutes warming up with simple stretches and yoga moves, you might get your heart pumping by running on the elliptical machine, taking a high-powered walk on the treadmill or in the park or engaging in a a safe game of racquetball with friends.
Then it’s onto the weights: “Combine your cardio with another 30 minutes of strength training your body’s different muscle groups with a pair of adjustable dumbbells, and you’re going to get amazing results,” he said.
He suggests three sets of 10 to 12 reps each of chest incline presses and dumbbell back rows, bicep curls and tricep extensions and walking dumbbell lunges (see breakout below) and squats. Finish with crunches (eventually working up to three sets of 50 reps), then upper and lower body stretches to cool down.
Walking lunges with dumbbells
This strength-training exercise works the butt, thighs, quads, hamstrings, core and biceps.
How many: Three sets of 10 to 12 reps with weights
- With a 5- or 10-pound weight in each hand, stand up straight with your feet shoulders’-width apart.
- Hold the weights with your arms straight down at your sides or bent up at a
90-degree angle while keeping your elbows parallel to your torso.
- Extend your right leg forward, putting weight on your heel. Bend the right knee, bringing it to a 90-degree angle, and lower your upper body straight down until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Make sure the knee never extends over your toes. Keep your shoulders, back and chest straight. Your left knee will be bent and may lightly tap the floor.
- Once in the lowered position, pause for a beat, then return to standing.
- Transitioning to the left leg, keep your right leg still, and take a wide step forward with your left foot, repeating the same movement with the left leg.
Abigail Williams-Joseph’s Power Hour: Badass body weight moves
Pole and aerial fitness trainer Abigail Williams-Joseph stresses the importance of building muscle and core strengthening. Simply focusing on calorie loss misses the big picture, she said.
“Burning 3,000 calories and getting to the gym every single day in order to lose a certain amount of weight per week is not our main focus,” Williams-Joseph told The Post. “We’re building people up to be physically strong, and to increase their mobility and flexibility.”
Williams-Joseph says at-home cellulite soldiers can combat the fat with a solid body-weight training routine.
She suggests a 10- to 15-minute workout that incorporates full body stretches; head, wrist, arm and ankle circles; jumping jacks; and chest-cross arm swings.
Then it’s on to a series of body-weight exercises — pushups, shoulder shrugs, pullups, lateral leg raises, squats, lunges and knee tuck crunches (see breakout below). For each exercise, do three sets of 20 reps, with a 30-second rest between sets.
Finish with a brief cool down, 30 seconds on each side, that includes arm-cross shoulder stretches, overhead tricep stretches and glute stretches.
Knee tuck crunches
This ab-buster strengthens the core, makes your hips and back more flexible and increases mobility and flexibility.
- Lay on your back with your hands behind your head and your chin tucked to your chest.
- Tilt your pelvis in and bring both knees to your chest.
- Extend your legs straight out in front of you, and then bend your knees back in to your chest.
- Repeat the motion, curling your knees up and extending for three sets of 20 reps.
Cheryl Kelly’s Power Hour: Heart-pumping kickboxing
Armed with more than three decades of exercise expertise, certified group fitness trainer Cheryl Kelly’s high-octane classes are kryptonite to calories.
Like Basedow, she recommends a mix of cardio and weight training each day, coupled with a warmup and cool-down period.
The key to success, she stressed, is variety.
“Change up your cardio and weight-training routine every day,” Kelly told The Post. “Mix it up as often as possible.”
When working out on your own at home, the New Jersey instructor suggests 25 to 30 minutes of fun, fast-paced cardio such as kickboxing (try the breakout move below), step aerobics or a high-speed walk or run on the treadmill.
Complete the routine with some weight-training moves. For those who don’t have weights or kettlebells, Kelly says doing lunges and bicep curls with household items such as heavy cans of food, full water jugs or detergent containers will get the job done.
For this 20-minute muscle-building segment, try four sets of 15 reps, with a 10-second rest between sets, of the following moves: alternating bicep curls, seated dumbbell extensions, lateral arm raises, hop squats, back rows, pushups and tricep dips.
Jab, cross, hook, upper cut combo
This heart-rate lifter is great for cardiovascular health, while burning calories and building muscle strength and balance.
How many: Repeat combo 50 times
- Stand with your feet staggered, right foot forward, knees slightly bent. Put your hands up, guarding your face.
- Jab by thrusting your right arm straight out, extending into a full jab punch. Don’t lean forward.
- Cross by thrusting your left arm across the body, extending into a diagonal punch toward the right. Rotate left hip forward and pivot on right foot until heel lifts off the ground.
- Hook by thrusting your bended right arm at a 90-degree angle, make sure elbow is parallel to the floor. Swing bended arm across the body. Pivot hips in the same direction as the punch.
- Upper cut by bringing your left arm down to the waist. Rotate right hip forward, pivoting on ball of the left foot, and swinging upward at a 45-degree angle.