You can do itWouldn’t it be terrific to peel off your beach cover-up this summer and feel slimmer, stronger, and more confident than ever? We’ve got just the person to whip you into that kind of amazing shape: personal trainer—and former top boxer!—Cara Castronuova, who’s just finishing up her first season shaping bodies and minds on NBC’s hit show The Biggest Loser.
The key to getting a rocking body may come as a surprise, Castronuova says: "Above all, the secret is believing you have what it takes to be the best you can be." Once you believe you’re capable of anything, she adds, you’re on your way.
No more excusesThe next step is finding the right workout—and here it is. "This high-tempo, no-equipment workout is designed to be done anywhere, anytime," Castronuova says. "It focuses on large-muscle groups, because the bigger the muscle, the more calories required to exercise it." Add some intense fat-blasting cardio, and together, she says, "the whole routine will help turn your body into a fat-burning furnace."
To not just tone but also lose up to 12 pounds this month, follow herdiet guidelines. Carve out tiny chunks of time daily to visualize the new you. "Picture yourself as healthy, fit, and strong, and it willhappen," Castronuova says.
Here's the planDo these strength circuits—designed exclusively for Healthreaders by Castronuova—three times a week, every other day. "Keep the tempo up, and allow yourself minimal rest," she says. "Really challenge yourself!" In addition, do 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to intense cardio three times a week.
As the weeks progress, your intensity should increase: "Embrace that it will be slightly uncomfortable, then let that push you to work harder and take yourself to new levels."
To warm up, walk briskly, jog, or do a cardio machine for 5 minutes. Then, go through each circuit 3 times, resting for 30 seconds after each exercise.
No. 1 Squat and jump:
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down, keeping knees behind toes, and put your hands on the ground. Kick your feet back to come into push-up position with arms straight, then bend elbows to lower your chest toward the ground.
Straighten your arms as you jump forward again into squat position, then push off your feet and leap as high as you can with arms reaching toward the sky. Land softly with knees slightly bent. Repeat sequence for 1 minute.
No. 2 Mountain climber
Get into push-up position with arms straight and hands directly under shoulders. Walk feet forward, staggering them so your right knee is bent under your chest while your left foot is behind you with knee slightly bent.
Pushing powerfully into your legs, switch your foot positions, bringing the left knee in and extending the right leg. Continue alternating for 1 minute.
No. 3 Toe-touch kick
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hands reaching overhead; intertwine your fingers. Do a high forward kick with your right leg, bringing your hands down to meet your toes. Repeat with the left leg. Continue alternating for 1 minute.
No. 4 ShadowboxStand with feet shoulder-width apart. Make fists and bend elbows to bring hands up into fighter position in front of your face, keeping elbows close to body. Alternating arms, punch straight out in front of you, then curve up, then hit low; next, try a hook punch, curving around to the side.
Mix it up—and keep moving! Move your head and shoulders back and forth as if dodging punches. Keep your knees bent and shift your weight back and forth as you bounce on the bottoms of your feet. Continue for 1 minute.
No. 1 Basic push-up:
Get into push-up position on the ground with feet together and arms slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Support yourself on your toes and hands, pressing your palms down; don’t lock your elbows. Your body should form a straight line from heels to head.
Bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the ground; stop when they reach 90 degrees. Push back up to starting position, then immediately begin your next rep. Do 12 reps.
No. 2 SquatStand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing forward, and hands gently cupping the sides of your head or up near your shoulders. With weight on heels, slowly bend knees and push hips back to lower into a squat; push your chest out slightly to counterbalance the heavy load on your heels.
When knees reach 90 degrees (keep them behind your toes), push back up through your heels to starting position. Do 12 reps.
No. 3 V-upLie on your back with arms extended overhead, feet flexed, and heels resting on a wall (or calves on a bench); your legs should be at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Tuck your chin toward your chest, engage your abs, and bring your arms forward as you begin to curl up; try to touch your toes. Slowly uncurl to return to starting position. Do 12 reps.
No. 1 Triceps dip
Sit on the edge of a bench or chair with your legs extended. Grip the edge with each hand so your fingers face your body. Move your butt forward and off the bench, allowing your knees to bend slightly. Bend your elbows to lower your butt toward the ground, then straighten them to come back up. Do 12 reps.
No. 2 Cobra holdLie facedown on the ground with legs extended, arms by your sides, and palms facing up. Keeping your gaze forward and without using your hands or tightening any part of your lower body, slowly raise your chest and shoulders; rotate your thumbs up to bring your shoulder blades closer together. Hold for 60 seconds or as long as you can.
No. 3 PlankLie facedown with legs extended and elbows bent and directly under shoulders; clasp your hands. Feet should be hip-width apart, and elbows should be shoulder-width apart.
Contract your abs, then tuck your toes to lift your body (forearms remain on the ground); you should be in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for 60 seconds or as long as you can.