Once the holiday festivities are over and you finally wake up in January, what’s one of the first things on your agenda? If it includes dropping a few dress or pant sizes by spring break, then you’re in luck with this 90-day workout plan!
Here are the steps of the 90-day workout plan:
- Diet is Just the Beginning
- The Fat-Loss Trifecta
- Step 1: Diet & Nutrition
- Step 2: Strategic Cardiovascular Exercise
- Step 3: Weight Lifting
You should know upfront that dropping a few sizes is about more than just dieting. Dieting can help you lose weight for sure; however, it’s a temporary fix. What you truly want is not just weight loss, but a smaller (and more toned) physique overall.
That being said, it’s important to note that muscle and fat are not equal when it comes to weight. Fat is “fluffy” and lightweight, whereas muscle, which also happens to be metabolically active (that is, it burns calories even when you’re at rest), weighs quite a bit more than body fat for the same volume.
What does this mean for you? It translates to the fact that dropping sizes will mean, yes, shedding pounds of body fat, but it will also mean adding pounds of muscle. The bottom line is that you may end up weighing about the same number on the scale at the end of your 90-day program, but your body will look vastly different and you will need to indulge in a shopping spree for some smaller sized clothing.
If you want to change your body permanently, and you want to change the actual shape of your physique, then here are a couple of ingredients that will be a necessary part of your 90-day workout plan.
Just as you’ve heard the adage that “failing to plan is planning to fail,” so it is with your nutrition. It’s easy to overindulge during the holidays, and it will take a little strategic diet planning if you want to undo any damage done.
For the first week or two, start by simply noticing and tracking everything you’re consuming. This includes drinks, dressings, sauces, and snacks. You can use an app like MyFitnessPal, MyPlate Calorie Tracker, or Calorie Counter by FatSecret to make things easier.
After you have a good baseline of what you’re taking in (after a week or two), calorie-wise, reduce that number by about 10 – 15% and make that your new caloric intake goal. Use your app to ensure you’re staying within your new parameters. Stick with his number for three weeks and see if your weight begins to trend downward.
Once you notice a fat-loss trend of about one to two pounds per week, you can keep your calories steady and really focus on building the muscle.
If you want to follow a more structured diet, there are many available to you, including:
- A High-Protein Diet
- The Keto Diet
- The Dash Diet
- The Slow-Carb Diet
- The Paleo Diet Plan
- A Low-Carb Diet
- The Mediterranean Diet
What’s most important is that you focus on real foods that make you feel energized and healthy. That means eating whole, nutrient-dense foods, including plenty of vegetables (at least 3 ½ servings per day) and some fruits.
This 90-day workout plan will be a mixture of steady-state cardio and more effective cardio. What’s the most effective form of cardio you can do? Exercise that involves short bursts of all-out effort followed by short periods of less-intense movement is the most efficient way to burn off body fat. This type of exercise is called “HIIT” (or high-intensity interval training).
HIIT Cardio Workout
HIIT is a type of cardiovascular exercise that’s quick yet effective. After a 2-minute warmup walk, you’ll be doing 30 seconds of all-out effort followed by 90 seconds of “rest,” meaning walking or jogging at a nice, slow, steady pace. After your warmup, repeat the 30-second/90-second sequence 8 times, and then finish your workout with a 2-minute cooldown walk.
- Weeks 1 – 2: start with walking for 30 minutes 3 times a week.
- Weeks 3 – 4: walk for 45 minutes 3 times a week
- Weeks 5 – 6: do 2 steady-state 45-minute walks per week separated by one 20-minute HIIT workout session
- Weeks 7 – 8: do two 20-minute HIIT sessions per week separated by one 45-minute steady-state session
- Do HIIT cardio 3 times per week plus two 45-minute steady-state sessions
So, you have your diet and nutrition under control and your cardio program is looking good. Now it’s time to focus on your resistance training in our 90-day workout plan.
You’ll want to start with one round (also called a “set”) of each exercise listed below. Start with 15 – 20 repetitions of each exercise, take a 1- to 3-minute break, and then move to the next exercise.
Note: Always start with a proper 5-minute warmup before embarking on your weight-training session, and finish with a good 5- to 10-minute cooldown and stretch.
Days 1 – 30
Dumbbell Press—begin by laying down on a bench while grasping a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be facing forward (toward your feet). Bring your arms down by your sides with your elbows bent so the dumbbells are in line with your chest. Press the dumbbells upward and together simultaneously until your arms are straight, directly over your chest. Pause at the top and lower the weights slowly back down to your starting position. Repeat.
Front Raise—stand with your feet hip-width apart with a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be facing your thighs. Raise your right arm straight out in front of your body (maintain a slight bend in the elbow—that is, don’t “lockout” the joint). Once you get your arm high enough so it’s parallel to the floor, pause, and then slowly lower the weight back to the beginning. Repeat on the opposite side to complete one repetition.
Triceps Pushdown—stand in front of a cable machine with the rope attachment connected to the upper cable. Grasp each end of the rope and step back enough so your elbows are bent at your sides and your hands are slightly higher in front of your chest. Squeezing your triceps, push the rope down toward the ground until your arms are straight. Pause before bending the elbows again and controlling the weight as it comes back up to the starting position.
Lat Pulldown Machine—sit on the lat pulldown machine. Using a wide-grip pulldown bar, grip the bar toward the outer edges, and pull the weight toward your chest while slightly arching your upper back. Pretend like you’re trying to touch your elbows behind your back (you can’t, but it helps to focus on the right muscles). Get a nice squeeze and then slowly bring the weight back up to the start. Repeat.
Standing Dumbbell Curl—stand with your feet hip-width apart with a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be facing forward/upward. Slowly bend your right arm to bring the weight up to chest level, squeeze, and slowly straighten your arm to lower the weight. Repeat on the opposite side to complete one repetition.
Body Squat—stand with your feet hip-width apart with your hands on your hips. Bend your knees with your hips pushed back as you lower your body. Keep bending until your thighs are parallel to the ground or lower. Pause and then, pushing through your heels, return to standing.
Toe Raise—hold a dumbbell in each hand. Rise onto your toes and hold for a count of ten and then lower. Repeat three times.
Plank—begin on your hands and knees and lower onto your forearms. Your arms should be shoulder-width apart, palms down, with your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Extend your legs out behind you and get up on your toes. Keep your body in this position for 30 seconds and then release, coming back to rest on your knees.
Days 30 – 60
Here you will be doing an upper and lower body workout twice a week. Aim for around ten repetitions for each exercise and do two sets of each exercise for each body part.
Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Back, Biceps
Pushup (regular or knee pushups)—start with your body in a plank position. Your arms should be centered straight below you and about shoulder-width apart. Lower your body by bending at the elbows while keeping your back and glutes in a straight line. If you can’t perform the regular pushup, proceed in the same manner except allow your knees to rest on the ground.
Shoulder Press—you can either use a shoulder press machine or you can sit down on a bench and hold dumbbells in each hand. If you use a bench and dumbbells, sit with a dumbbell in each hand. Your upper arms should be parallel to the floor with the dumbbells at ear height. Slowly press the dumbbells upward inline with your ears until the dumbbells touch at the top, directly over your head, and then lower back to the starting position and repeat.
Triceps Bench Dip—begin by sitting on the side of a bench with your legs out straight in front of you. Your hands should be facing forward with your fingers around the edge of the bench. Slowly move your hips forward and off the edge of the bench while simultaneously lowering your body, keeping your hands on the bench. Keep lowering your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Pause and then move your body back upward until your arms are straight.
Dumbbell Row—grasp a weight in your right hand with your palm by your side. Kneel with your left leg on a bench (and your right leg straight with your right foot firmly planted on the floor) and bend over to place your left hand on the bench in front of you. Let the arm with the weight hang straight down. Next, bend your elbow and use your back muscles to pull the weight upward and slightly backward. Keep your elbow tucked at your side and pause when your upper arm is parallel to the floor. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position and repeat. After you have completed all the reps on one side, switch arms and complete the exercise on the left side.
Hammer Biceps Curl—stand with your feet about hip-width apart and grasp a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be sideways (up and down, facing each other) with your elbows pinned to your sides. Raise the right dumbbell by bending your arm upward until the top of the dumbbell is near your shoulder. Pause and repeat for the other arm to complete one set.
Legs, Calves, Abs
Leg Press—begin on a leg press machine of your choice. Once seated in the machine, place your feet in the middle of the platform with your toes facing straight ahead. Release the safety on the platform and slowly lower it by bending your knees until your legs are bent at a 90-degree angle. Push back up through your heels to the starting position and repeat.
Calve Raise—hold a dumbbell in each hand. Raise onto your toes and hold for a count of ten and then lower. Repeat three times.
Side Plank—begin on your hands and knees and lower onto your forearms. Your arms should be shoulder-width apart, palms down, with your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Extend your legs out behind you and get up on your toes. Twist your body to the right side so your right hip and arm are facing the ceiling. Your body should stay in a straight line while you maintain this position. Keep your body in this position for 30 seconds and then release. Then twist back to the starting position and come back to rest on your knees. Repeat on the opposite side.
Days 60 – 90
For your last 30 days, you’ll follow a typical muscle-building protocol, training each body part once a week (for a total of three days a week, preferably broken up with cardio sessions in-between). But you’ll use heavier weights than previous workouts. Use a weight you can lift only about eight times: Aim for six to eight repetitions for each set. Do a warmup set and then two additional sets with your working weight for each body part. You can pick from your favorite exercises from the past two months or choose something new.
Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
Day 2: Back, Biceps
Day 3: Legs, Calves, Abs
90-Day Workout Plan: A Recap
By dialing in your nutrition with a slight calorie deficit—ensuring you are focusing on eating nutrient-dense, real, whole foods—getting in a few solid cardio session each a week, and then working out with weights at least 30-minutes to an hour 3 days a week, within a short 90-days, you’ll notice the fat will start melting, and your muscles will become stronger, firmer, and more toned. Add sleep hygiene and accountability and support to the formula for even better results.
The only drawback is that your clothes may start feeling entirely too loose, and you may need to invest in a whole new wardrobe as you drop up to three sizes in three months!