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Maximum cardio

If you've been following our cardio program for the past two months, you already hold the keys to burning more calories with less effort. In the April and May phases of this progressive program designed by Tom Wells, P.E.D., F.A.C.S.M., you built a fat-burning aerobic base and increased your cardiovascular strength and stamina (and hence, your calorie-blasting abilities) with our exclusive workout plans. You also upped your aerobic activity with simple increases in the amount of everyday activities you do -- burning about 850 additional calories each week without working out.

This month, you'll make another subtle change in your exercise regimen to produce big results, focusing on really boosting endurance and lower-body strength for an even higher calorie burn with even less noticeable exertion. You'll also keep upping those daily lifestyle activities, reclaiming the movement that the convenience age of e-mail, drive-throughs and dishwashers has stolen from you. It's your final cardio push, so get moving for one more month of power-blasting, energy-boosting, maximum calorie burn.

THE PLAN

How it works

As with the past two months, you'll do three kinds of workouts in this program, adapted from a progressive "systems training" plan originally developed by exercise physiologist Jack Daniels, Ph.D. The plan is outlined in the Cardio Calendar and Workout Key on the following pages. (Note: If you missed the past two months, please complete those two plans before progressing to this one.*) For each workout, try running or walking outdoors, swimming or working out on cardio equipment (set machines on manual so you can adjust the intensity). You'll have one day off each week, plus Lifestyle (S) days on which you'll burn calories with everyday activities.

Warm-up

Begin workouts with 5-10 minutes of light cardio activity, like easy, brisk walking.

Cool-down

Be sure to finish every workout with a stretching session. Stretch all your major muscle groups, holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds without bouncing.

Beginner options

If you have trouble doing the high-intensity intervals on Endurance Booster and Power Blaster days, lower the RPE (see chart below) in each workout by one point; decrease the length of the work intervals; or, increase the length of the rest intervals.

Advanced option

Add one or two more intervals to your Power Blaster workouts, performing 2-4 minutes at RPE 8-9 and an equal number of minutes at RPE 5-6.

Strength

Do two total-body strength sessions a week on two of the days you do your cardio workouts, as outlined in "Supersculpt Your Body." ADD INLINE LINK TO THIS

THE RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION (RPE)

Use the RPE scale to estimate the intensity of your workout session. Here's how the four levels are defined.

RPE 3-4 Easy to moderate; you should be able to maintain this level and carry on a conversation with minimal effort.

RPE 5-6 Moderate; you can maintain this level and have a conversation with some effort.

RPE 7-8 Difficult; maintaining this level and having a conversation requires quite a bit of effort.

RPE 8-9 Peak effort; you won't be able to maintain this level for more than 3-4 minutes; no-talking zone.

CARDIO CALENDAR

June 1: LIFESTYLE

June 2: POWER BLASTER

June 3: LIFESTYLE

June 4: OFF

June 5: BASE BUILDER

June 6: LIFESTYLE

June 7: LIFESTYLE

June 8: ENDURANCE BOOSTER

June 9: LIFESTYLE

June 10: POWER BLASTER

June 11: LIFESTYLE

June 12: OFF

June 13: BASE BUILDER

June 14: LIFESTYLE

June 15: POWER BLASTER

June 16: LIFESTYLE

June 17: BASE BUILDER

June 18: LIFESTYLE

June 19: POWER BLASTER

June 20: LIFESTYLE

June 21: OFF

June 22: ENDURANCE BOOSTER

June 23: LIFESTYLE

June 24: POWER BLASTER

June 25: LIFESTYLE

June 26: OFF

June 27: BASE BUILDER

June 28: LIFESTYLE

June 29: POWER BLASTER

June 30: LIFESTYLE

WORKOUT KEY

BASE BUILDER

Today, burn lots of calories doing steady-state work to build your aerobic fitness base. Perform 35-45 minutes of running, walking, stepping or any type of continuous activity at RPE 5-6 (see the RPE chart below). Calories burned: 300-385**

ENDURANCE BOOSTER

Today, perform long intervals of higher-intensity work, improving your ability to sustain a more difficult level of exercise so you can burn more calories in your workouts with less noticeable effort. Do two 10-minute intervals at RPE 7-8, separated by 1 minute of "working" recovery (meaning it's still a challenge) at RPE 5-6, for a 21-minute workout. Calories burned: 270

POWER BLASTER

This month's emphasis is on improving your staying power in your workouts and giving your lower body a strength boost. Alternate 2- to 4-minute intervals at RPE 8-9 with "working" recovery periods of the same length at RPE 5-6 for a total workout time of 30 minutes. Calories burned: 340

LIFESTYLE

Today, get all your exercise in the form of lifestyle activities. Last month, you tried for 11,000 steps a day; this month, shoot for 12,000 steps a day. Some ideas on how: Wash your car, walk to lunch with co-workers, rearrange your furniture. (For more ideas, see April and May's cardio plans.*) To keep track of your steps, use a pedometer or keep an activity log. (Every time you perform 5 minutes of activity, give yourself a point. Aim to get about 24 points in your log every Lifestyle day.) Calories burned: 325

**Calorie estimates are based on a 140-pound woman.

Check out our Calories Burned tool to find out how you're doing on your healthy diet and fitness plan!

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