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How to Start Shaping Up For Bikini Season

From the Fit Community: 3 Tips to Start Shaping Up For Swimsuit Season

Bikini season will be here before you know it, so FitSugar reader JessicaSmithTV asked an expert for the best way to start shaping up. She posted her tips in our 10 Pounds Down! community group.

Well, it's official. The release of the 2012 swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated marks the opening of bikini season! And even if you are still snuggled and warm hiding your bod in that turtleneck, the warmer weather will be here before you know it. So don't wait until you have a beach date to start shedding any excess winter weight. These three simple tips from fitness expert Kate Conti of The Sports Club/LA will have you melting away the extra pounds without major sacrifice, so you can strut your stuff in your swimsuit on the beach this year:

Number one: allow up to six to eight weeks for delivery

Yes, it may still be frosty outside, but you need plenty of time to allow yourself to get results. Don't rely on that Master Cleanse to do your dirty work the week before. Start today! "Give yourself plenty of time to get in shape," says Conti. "If you’ve been sitting around all winter, your body is not going to just snap back into shape in a couple of weeks. Give yourself about six to eight weeks of training before you expect to see any significant results. Your body will need that time to adapt to the added stress of exercise and make the appropriate physiological changes."

Keep reading for the rest of the tips.

Number two: make a game plan

Decide how you'll spring into action. What kinds of changes can you make to your daily diet (i.e., step away from the Winter comfort foods) and workout routine (remember when you used to run outside)? Create a specific plan of action. Lucky for you, Conti has a specific bikini-prep workout plan that she recommends: "In addition to a healthy diet, your program needs to include both resistance and cardiovascular training," Conti says. "Try to incorporate your resistance training two to three times per week and cardio four to six days per week and perform cardio sessions after your resistance training to maximize the benefits of both. Energy levels and strength will be at their peak for the resistance training, and you will put your body in a more optimal state to burn fat during your cardio workout."

Number three: charge up your cardio gradually

Before you start going crazy with high-intensity workouts, focus on building more of an aerobic base first. Conti recommends starting the first few weeks of your cardio workout plan with longer, low- to moderate-intensity sessions. "Shoot for 20 to 60 minutes at a heart rate of 60 to 80 percent of your maximum and be patient. We want to prepare the body properly for when we turn up the volume between weeks four and six. If you can be patient and allow your body to adapt, by the time you start doing higher-intensity workouts, your body will become a fat-burning machine. Too much too fast will not allow for the proper physiological changes, and your body is likely to start burning muscle mass, resulting in a slower metabolism in the long run."

Share your own Summer shape-up secrets in our 10 Pounds Down! community group, and we may feature your tips on our homepage!

Source: Getty
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