Get Fit After Thanksgiving

A Workout to Lose Fat Fast

Female runners jogging in a group
Get Fit Fast. Thomas Barwick/Taxi/Getty Images

In a previous article, part one, you saw how to adjust your diet and nutrition to cope with times of the year when over-indulgence can occur.

Now you can follow up with this physical activity plan that is sure to complement your dietary approach. It's not easy but it will work.

The Plan

You exercise for 5 days per week for an hour each day with no more than two sessions on consecutive days. Thirty minutes of the one-hour session must be at a heart rate at or higher than 70% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).

You can approximate your MHR by subtracting your age from 220. If you’re 40, your maximum heart rate estimate will be 180 beats per minute (220 less 40). Seventy percent of 180 is 126. That's your target heart rate. You can train at a higher heart rate if you feel comfortable with it, but you must reach that 70%.

Another way to approximate this is to see how well you can talk or hold a conversation while exercising. If you can carry on a conversation, yet it’s a bit labored and interrupted by breathing, that’s about right. If you can talk more or less normally, you need to speed up.

Here we go!

Day 1. Sixty minutes of cardio: Walking, jogging or cycling, with 30 minutes at 70% effort or higher. That means a solid pace for 30 minutes. You should get quite a sweat up. The second 30 minutes can be at a slower pace. You can do either intensity first, depending on how you feel or you can mix high and low intensity in 10- or 15-minute blocks.

You can use a treadmill or cycle at gym or home if that suits.

Day 2. Weight training, moderate to hard. Use the Basic Strength and Muscle program or the Dumbbell Program. Put the effort in with these lifts. Do 10 minutes of cardio warmup and cooldown either side of the weights session to get your 60 minutes completed.

Day 3. Rest.

Day 4. Circuit training for 30 minutes moderate to hard, plus 30 minutes cardio at a pace of your choice. The dumbbell circuit can be done at home or at the gym. You can peddle a stationary cycle for the additional 30 minutes as an alternative to treadmill walking or jogging.

Day 5. Same as Day 2.

Day 6. Rest.

Day 7. Same as Day 1.

Summing up the Exercise Plan

Remember, you need to hit that 70% of maximum heart rate for 30 minutes each session and you need to keep moving for another 30 minutes.

Energy expended per hour should be in the range 500 to 700 calories for most people. And importantly, this level of intensity should create some afterburn effect, which will continue to rev up your metabolism for quite a few hours after exercise.

You should refuel with a carbohydrate drink or meal, including a little protein, within an hour of exercise completion. It’s important that you eat well. But eat normally in this phase and don’t overeat to reward yourself, otherwise the plan will fail.


Ello-Martin J, Roe LS, Ledikwe J, Beach A, Rolls BJ. Dietary energy density in the treatment of obesity: a year-long trial comparing 2 weight-loss diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1465-77.

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