After a few months of taking it easy, you've decided to get that killer body you had before. Although you don't need to have an Olympic-worthy body to feel good about yourself, why not push yourself to get the sculpted look seen on Greek statues?
Lesson 1: Make friends with fruit and veggies
Starting today, eat a balanced diet to melt that spare tyre from your midsection. How? By making fruit and veggies your new best friends. They are essential for good health and are your best defence against weight gain. They have zero fat content, few calories and are rich in digestion-aiding fibre.
Lesson 2: Hit the weights
How can you burn calories all day long? By lifting weights three times a week. Greater muscle mass increases metabolism, which helps burn off fat. Focus on different muscle groups on different days. For example, do arms on Mondays, shoulders and abs on Wednesday, and legs on Friday. This will give each muscle group a chance to recover between workouts.
Lesson 3: Double up: weight training with cardio
Do you work out regularly and are you dead set on reaching your goals? To continue improving your overall fitness level, don't stick to the same old routine. Vary your workouts and try new machines. Tip: To increase muscle mass, combine cardio workouts with weight training in your fitness programme. It's the most effective way to get a fit, sculpted body, be in great physical shape and lose weight.
Lesson 4: Sleep to recover
The secret to feeling good and maintaining your muscle mass is sleep. It's essential for good health. Your body rests during sleep to recover from effort and your muscles rebuild twice as fast during rest. Sleep lets you recharge your batteries, helping you find the energy you need for your next workout.
Getting at least seven hours of sleep each night will help keep you from gaining weight. Why? Sleeping less makes you hungrier, causes your body to produce more fat cells and slows down your metabolism - meaning you burn fewer calories. For those who are short-changing on sleep, be careful - the scale could start creeping up!
Lesson 5: Stay hydrated to cleanse your system
Your body needs water more than anything else. Muscles are about 80% water. Your body needs to flush out toxins and be well hydrated. Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia have shown that drinking over 2 litres of water every day can help you gain an additional 10% in muscle. Proteins create metabolic waste that your body flushes out with water. If you are dehydrated, your muscles won't recover quickly and you may have reduced performance.