How to Get in Shape Fast

Three Parts:Including Cardiovascular ExerciseIncluding Weight & Flexibility TrainingMaking Diet Changes

Changing your body composition takes time and commitment to healthy lifestyle habits. It's difficult to make significant changes in body composition in very short amounts of time. However, over just a few weeks of exercising and eating a nutritious diet, you may be able to see some positive benefits in your weight, body composition and overall strength. Start your your journey to get in shape by including regular aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility training. In addition, be sure to support your new exercise routine with a well-balanced diet to fuel your new workouts and get your body in shape.

Part 1
Including Cardiovascular Exercise

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    Set an aerobic goal. Getting in shape quickly is a very vague goal. It mostly includes a desire to get in shape both aerobically and build muscular strength.
    • Start by setting an aerobic or cardiovascular goal. Make sure to be specific and realistic with your goals.
    • An example of a goal could be: be able to run a 5k in 2 months or be able to jog continuously for 30 minutes without walking.
    • Give yourself a monetary or physical reward if you reach your goals. Rewards can help keep you motivated and positive.
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    Aim for at least 150 minutes of steady-state cardio each week. Regardless of your specific aerobic goal, you should aim to include 150 minutes of cardio exercise each week. This is the minimum amount found to have a significant benefit on your health and get you into shape.[1]
    • Cardio will help you reach part of your goal to get in shape. It helps you: control your weight, strength your heart and lungs, improve your ability to circulate blood, improve your mood and increases your change of living a longer, healthier life.[2]
    • If you are just starting with exercise, do lower intensity activities for shorter amounts of time - like 20-30 minutes. Try walking, using an elliptical or swimming. Once exercises become easier, increase the intensity, frequency or duration to continue to keep your body challenged.
    • If you currently exercise, try to do more moderate or higher intensity exercises. You can jog or run, use a stair master, do the rowing machine or take high intensity aerobic classes for periods up to 60 minutes.
    • Always warm up and cool down for aerobic exercise. Spend 5 minutes doing a lower intensity version of whatever exercise you plan on doing. For example, walk briskly for about 5 minutes if you plan on jogging for your workout.
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    Do interval training 1-2 times a week. Whether you run, use the elliptical, sprint or do other types of cardio, you can increase the amount of calories you burn by changing the intensity or alternating between higher and lower intensity exercises.
    • Higher intensity interval training is typically beneficial for those who currently exercise. These exercises can be very difficult and are a great way to increase your aerobic fitness quickly.[3]
    • In addition, these exercises are known for increased calorie burn, increased fat burning and increased metabolism.[4] They are great for weight loss in addition to getting you in shape.
    • Interval training is a type of exercise that alternate between very short bouts of high intensity exercise with longer bouts of more moderate intensity activities. You can use any aerobic activity and turn it into interval training. You can alternate between sprinting and jogging, switch up between low and high intensity cycling or increasing the intensity on an elliptical machine.
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    Reduce the amount of time you are sedentary each day. There is more and more evidence that increased sitting during the day also increases the risk for obesity, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.[5]
    • Try to increase your activity levels during your entire day. If you want to get in shape, move more or walking more during the day in addition to your planned and structured activity can help improve fitness levels.[6]
    • Try walking an extra 30 minutes each day. If you do not have time to devote to this, walk for 10 minutes after each meal, or walk during your lunch break.
    • Try to stand more at work. Invest in a sit/stand desk that allows you to raise your computer screen and keyboard. Standing burns more calories, and it can give you more energy. Remember to slowly incorporate standing, since your feet and legs can become sore.
    • Avoid sitting in front of a television on nights and weekends. If you rely on this time to spend with the family, suggest active pursuits. If you must watch TV or movies, do exercises during the commercial breaks or walk in place for a portion of this time.
    • Buy a pedometer. Aim to reach the doctor-recommended goal of 10,000 steps during the course of your day.

Part 2
Including Weight & Flexibility Training

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    Set a weight training goal. In addition to your cardiovascular goal, set a weight training or resistance training goal. Think about whether or not you want to build muscle mass, build strength or just tone your muscles.
    • Building bulk requires a specific weight lifting regimen. In addition, it will require a different type of diet to help support the increase in muscle mass.
    • Building strength and toning uses different types of exercises and weights compared to when you want to build bulk.
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    Do strength training 1-3 times per week. In addition to your cardio exercises, include a few days of strength training. This will round out your workouts and help get you in shape.[7]
    • Strength training exercises are ones that will help build strength, bulk and provide definition to your body. In addition, strength training helps increase your metabolism and body's ability to burn calories and reduce your risk for osteoporosis.[8]
    • Take adequate amounts of rest days. With strength training specifically, it's important to rest your muscle groups. Take a day off in-between strength training days or alternate between different muscle groups. You do not want to work the same muscle groups more than 1 day in a row.[9]
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    Improve strength in your lower body. The best lower body exercises to include to get in shape fast are compound exercises as they work multiple muscle groups all at once. Include some of the following exercises to help build strength in your lower body quickly:
    • Squats
    • Lunges
    • Deadlifts
    • Leg press
    • Hamstring curl
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    Improve strength in your upper body. Like lower body exercises, include compound exercises for your upper body as well. This can cut down on training time and get multiple muscle groups into shape quickly. Try:
    • Bench press
    • Shoulder press
    • Bicep curls
    • Bent over row
    • Power clean
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    Include flexibility training. Stretching and flexibility training is equally important part of a exercise plan. Stretch every time your workout to help complete your workout plan.
    • Stretching can help relieve aches and pains, improve range of motion, increase athletic performance and decrease your risk for activity-based injuries.[10]
    • When you're stretching do not bounce in the position. Hold your stretch steady and only push slightly - don't push to the point where you feel pain.[11]
    • Some stretches to include are: the runners stretch, standing side stretch, forward hang, low lunge and the seated back twist.

Part 3
Making Diet Changes

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    Eat a balanced diet. Regardless of your health or wellness goal, eating a balanced diet will play a key role. This helps ensure that you're eating enough food for your body and activity level.[12]
    • The type of balanced diet you choose to have (for example lower calorie diet or a diet to build muscle mass), you'll need to eat foods from each food group every day. In addition to choosing a wide variety of foods from within each food group over the course of a week.[13]
    • Protein will play an especially important role in your diet when you're trying to get in shape. It will fuel your workouts and maintain your lean muscle mass. Include a 3-4 oz serving of protein at each meal.[14]
    • Also include 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Both of these foods are low in calories, but will provide your body with a large quantity of essential vitamins and minerals daily.[15]
    • Try to include 100% whole grains in your diet. These high fiber grains are much more nutritious that refined grains like white flour. Measure out a few 1 oz or 1/2 cup servings daily.[16]
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    Don't skip meals. It's never advisable to skip meals. However, when you're trying to get in shape and are increasing your physical activity levels, you'll need adequate fuel from your diet to maintain your lifestyle.
    • You need to maintain your blood sugar and energy levels by eating healthy foods regularly, rather than skipping meals.
    • Skipping meals regularly can result in unwanted weight loss or loss of lean muscle mass. This will make getting in shape more difficult.[17]
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    Include a pre- or post-workout snack. If you've increased the amount of time, duration or frequency of your workouts, you might find that you're more hungry and need to have either a pre or post workout snack.
    • Snacks can be a healthy addition to your diet. Regardless of whether or not you're watching your weight, well-planned and nutritious snacks can fuel workouts and help improve recovery.[18]
    • Pre-workout snacks should be somewhat small and be mostly simple carbohydrates. These help give your body the immediate energy to get you through your workout.[19] Try: a piece of fruit, a slice of whole grain bread with jam or 10 whole grain crackers.
    • Include a post workout snack to help your body repair and recover. You'll need to include carbohydrates and protein.[20] Try: apple with peanut butter, a protein shake or chocolate milk.
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    Drink adequate fluids. Like eating regular balanced meals, you'll also need to ensure you're consuming enough fluids each day to help maintain proper hydration.
    • With increased physical activity, you will lose more water and fluids from your sweat. In addition to drinking adequate fluids for you body, you'll need to make sure you drink enough to replace the fluids lost through your activities.
    • Most health professionals recommended consuming at least 8-13 glasses daily. You want to make sure your urine is light or pale yellow by the end of the day.[21]
    • Only drink fluids that will hydrate your body without added calories. Try: water, flavored water, decaf coffee and decaf tea.


  • Always talk to your doctor prior to starting a new exercise regimen. If you feel any pain, discomfort or have difficulty breathing while exercising discontinue immediately and seek medical attention.
  • Always seek the advice of a physical therapist, doctor and/or personal trainer if you have any health problems. These professionals can design a diet and exercise regime that will fit your needs more closely.
  • Wear supportive shoes and stretch to avoid injury to muscles. Always start with lighter intensity or weights and work up as you feel comfortable.
  • Drink plenty of water. Drink it before, during and after your workout, or you will be at risk for dehydration and injury.
  • Avoid eating out and drinking alcoholic beverages. You consume more when you eat out and drink. Limit these temptations during your first 6 weeks and monitor them closely afterward.

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Categories: Health | Losing Weight