Shredding For My Wedding

Planning an Exercise Schedule – Reader Q&A, Part 5 of 5

I recently had a reader question, and rather than respond directly I have decided to post the response here to help anyone in the same situation.

I’ve split my answer into five parts as it became rather long. This post is part five.

Q. I’m getting married soon and I’d like to lose weight for my wedding. I’ve been going to the gym now regularly since January.

My goal is to lose about 10lbs and move more because I have a sedentary job.

I do 20 min of bike or elliptical then usually do rowing for 10 15 minThen I do some planks and some mat workout, abs, then stretch. Once in a while, I will finish with 5 minutes on the stairs.

That’s on average what I do, with some variation.

I’d like to use more weights but don’t know what to target to get lean and not bulky.

I have toned up nicely using the rowing machine and I do HIIT workouts at home, but I don’t have a schedule. I work out randomly.

I’m going to break these questions down and answer them independently in each of this five part blog series.

From the initial question, I will cover the following topics:

  • Achieving Weight Loss – (part 1)
  • Moving More – (part 2)
  • The best exercises to Lose Weight – (part 3)
  • How Not to Get Bulky – (part 4)
  • Getting the schedule right – (part 5)

Getting Your Workout Plan Right

In order to have success with your diet and exercise plans, one of the MOST important aspects is adherence and consistency. It’s simply not going to work if you don’t keep at it.

We’ve discussed in the previous parts of this series that: you can enjoy foods you like in your diet, you don’t need to go to the gym just to burn off calories, plus the benefits of doing weight training should far outweigh the extra effort it takes to do it.

It very important to have a plan to follow. Without a plan, you will have to put more effort into thinking which often leads to laziness and giving up. With a plan, you’ll be able to just follow what’s written down and concentrate on doing the exercises rather than thinking what to do.

A Good Plan to Follow

1. Measure Your Steps

As I mentioned in part two, if you expend more energy through NEAT, then you won’t have to waste time in the gym on the treadmill, elliptical, bike or rowing machine.

I’d either advise you to start tracking your steps on your mobile or get a fitness tracker like a FitBit. Remember that as your phone many not always be in your pocket, it’s probably going to be less accurate than a fitness tracker.

Start by getting your baseline level of steps per day. If you’re doing say 5,000, try and consistently doing a couple of thousand more per day. After you’ve been doing 7,000 per day for a week or so, work your way up to 10,000+.

You’ll have to get inventive to get all your steps in some days. Planned walks or being less efficient with your daily tasks will get you more steps in.

2. Get Your Diet Worked Out

Depending on how well you’re eating right now, I’d either try portion size estimating with your hands or move straight on to calorie counting (talked about in part one). It really depends on how much time you have to lose the weight before your wedding.

Just eating healthier will often help, but as it’s trial and error, the other methods give us more feedback about things we can alter to get continuing results.

3. Follow a Workout Plan Which Includes Weight Training

As talked about in parts three and four, weight/resistance training is essential when trying to lose body fat. Cardio is best done in the form of steps and movement outside the gym, and your gym time is best saved for the weight training side of things.

However you don’t necessarily need a gym for weight training. It can involve weights, bodyweight or bands which can be used at home as well.

Also, as a beginner, it’s difficult to lift free weights (dumbells and barbells) with the correct form and stability, so I’d recommend using machines.

I’d suggest doing the following style of routine:

Workout day 1: 

Mobility and 5-10 minute warm-up on your selected cardio machine of choice. It could be the treadmill, bike, elliptical or rower. Otherwise it could be just some running on the spot, high knee raises and jumping jacks for 3-5 minutes.

HIIT session on your selected cardio machine of choice. Again, it could be the bike, elliptical or rower. The treadmill tends to be the hardest piece of equipment to do HIIT training on as you have to wait for it to slow down, so I’d actually avoid this.

Do the following:

  • 30 seconds maximum effort.
  • 1 minute rest.
  • 30 seconds maximum effort.
  • 1 minute rest.
  • 30 seconds maximum effort.
  • 1 minute rest.
  • 30 seconds maximum effort.
  • 1 minute rest.
  • 30 seconds maximum effort.

That’s 5 intervals.

As you progress, increase the number of intervals.

The below example is an interval on the rowing machine:

Another way to increase the challenge would be to reduce the rest time or increase your effort (measured on the machine).

Workout day 2:

These exercises concentrate on the anterior (front) of your legs and pulling movements.

Do the following with 2 sets of each exercise in the first week. Do 8-10 reps with a weight that feels hard on the last 2 reps. Rest for 90 seconds between each set.

As the weeks progress, move up to 3-4 sets of each exercise. You should also be increasing the amount of weight you lift for the 8-10 reps every week.

  • Leg press Machine
  • Leg extension machine
  • Abductor machine – (will help prevent knee issues)
  • Cable machine rows
  • Lat pulldown

Workout day 3:

These exercises concentrate on the posterior (back) part of your legs, plus pushing movements.

Follow the same advice as workout 2 with these exercises.

  • Glute bridges
  • Low-pulley cable glute pull-throughs (see the following video).
  • Leg curl machine
  • Shoulder Press Machine
  • Chest press machine

Home Workout:

These 8 exercises are basic things you can do at home without the need for special equipment.

If there are any doubts, feel free to send me videos of you doing the exercises. Obviously, everyone is going to be different depending on your mobility.

Do 8-12 reps of each and 2 to 4 sets. Use a 3-second tempo, then hold positions for 1 second.

1. Squats – Break at the crease of the hips and push your bum back, then break at the knees and lower your body down as far as you can go. To make it harder, use a backpack with books or heavy items in it.

2. Glute bridges with band – Get a physio band off eBay and place around your knees while lying on the floor. Lift your hips up and squeeze your bum for 3 seconds, then lower yourself back down. You can also do this exercise without the band.

3. Single Legged bridges – The same as above, but with one leg and without the band. The closer your feet sit to your bum, the easier this exercise will be.

4. Chair Dips – From a seated position, put your palms by your sides and press into the chair. Shuffle forward and move your bum off the chair so you are supported by your hands. Bend your elbows and lower yourself down as far as you can go. Try and keep your legs passive and let your arms do the work. The further your feet are from the chair, the harder this exercise will be.

5. Table pulls – Be careful with this exercise. Find a solid table, and lie down under it, cupping your hands around the lip. Bend your arms to pull yourself up, then lower back down slowly.

6. Floor scapula retractions – Lie on the floor with your arms out by your sides at 90 degrees. Bend your elbows so your hands are pointing towards the ceiling. Now press your elbows into the floor and try and bring your upper back away from it a centimetre, while keeping your head on the ground.

7. Press-ups – Either on your knees or in the common position, make sure your arms are vertical and hands are under your shoulders. Tuck your elbows into your sides and bend your arms to lower yourself down, then reverse the movement to come back up.

8. Shoulder press – Get a backpack and put some books in it so that it weighs a few kg. Stand with it in front of you. Hook your hands under the top of the straps so that your palms are facing upwards. To do the exercise, push it up above your head and then back down. In the top position, the backpack will be in front of your face.

The best things to do is to mix these exercises up and spread them over different days of the week.

Actions Steps

It’s easy to read information and not action it, so here are some action points for you!

  1. Work out how many calories you need to consume and start measuring your food intake.
  2. Follow the workouts and record your progress, trying to increase the amount of weight, reps or sets you do each week.

  • Achieving Weight Loss – (part 1)
  • Moving More – (part 2)
  • The best exercises to Lose Weight – (part 3)
  • How Not to Get Bulky – (part 4)
  • Getting the schedule right – (part 5)
Harry Snell
I’m a bride body tranformation specialist & creator of the Shredding For My Wedding program. In a world driven by perfectionism and social pressure, building confidence for your wedding day is essential. Read more about my story and why this means so much to me here...