"3 minutes strength training, 2 minutes of cardio, 1 minute abs, why? It is the most effective way to burn calories, burn fat and build lean muscle mass." -Jillian Michael's-30 Day shred (OK, I love her, she's tough and she knows her stuff!) These are the "zig- zags" I have used and found success with. I think it is always good to have some helpful ideas, things real people have tried and found their own success with. Again, finding what works best for you is what is most important.
Zig- Zag 1:For a long time, I was just running and running everyday, which is fine, but it wasn't until I added strength training and intervals to the mix that I started getting better results with my fitness goals. Two of my most favorite workout DVD's are Jillian Michael's 30 day shred and Jillian Michael's "No more trouble zones". The great thing about "the 30 day shred"is it is only 20 minutes and there are 3 different level workouts you can do, and I started seeing results with all of them,pretty quick. I did the "30 day shred" for 30 days, combined with cardio and pilates and got to my lowest weight. I have now added "No More Trouble Zones" to the mix 3-4 days a week and I feel like I am getting tighter and more toned all over. It has combination moves that work your abs EVERY TIME-(abs-big problem area, for many of us,and if it isn't, consider yourself extremely lucky!) It is 40 minutes, but you can break it up into individual circuits if you don't have time to do the whole thing. Or I like to mix up the order of the circuits to break it up if it starts to feel monotonous. Most importantly, however, keep at it and not quit. I mean, really, one of my biggest frustrations is when some of those "trouble zones" just don't seem to go away completely no matter what I do. But I will keep at it. I think my next thing to research will be self acceptance and being completely happy with myself. How does one get there? I wish I knew. I want to stop always finding something I don't like about myself. I know I have come a long way, but it is still a struggle for me all the time. Anyway, back to the "No More Trouble Zones" DVD, don't let the first circuit (after the warm up, of course) scare you off, if you can get through that, you can do the rest. It is really hard, I won't lie, but it's worth it. I absolutely love this DVD! I love them both, it's like my own little road map to strength training. Before I found these little gems I didn't know where to start or what exercises to do. It shows you exactly how to do the exercises and what muscles the particular circuits are training. What's even better, you can do this on your own at home! Jillian also constantly reminds you to remember as you are doing it,think about all the things you want for yourself and why you are doing it so that it is something positive and not something you dread doing.
Zig- Zag 2: Cardio Intervals: I have been reading up on why intervals help you lose weight faster and why they are so effective. They help build endurance and burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. Staying at a steady pace is not as effective and it doesn't challenge your body as much. (Although, I do want to add, I still like to do an hour's worth of cardio because I just feel better, and I enjoy running and you will get results that way as well. It's just good to mix it up and give your body a challenge). My sister has a friend that went to a body building contest in Las Vegas and won by running 20 minutes of moderate speeds for (I think) 2 minutes at about 5 mph, then short bursts of a speed as high as you can go, and repeat, and 6 days a week of strength training (but also a very, very strict diet) I have also found some good incline speed interval workouts that are programmed on most treadmills. There are sample interval workouts you can find on the Internet, or sometimes what I have done is just mix it up to what I am feeling up to that day. Unfortunately, the incline hurts my knees too, so I have to watch that one. The great thing here is that it doesn't have to be complicated. We are all capable of pushing ourselves. When Jillian Michaels trains you in cardio, she says she wants you to "feel like you are going to die" then you know it is working!
Zig -Zag 3: The Calorie Zig-zag: If you decide to go the counting calorie route, to lose or even to maintain, an effective tool of you have hit that all too familiar plateau is to zig- zag your calories because it constantly "tricks" your body by constantly changing calories: Here is an example I found on the internet of a 7 day calorie zig-zag for fat loss: Monday-1653 Tuesday:1322 Wednesday:1983 Thursday:1653 Friday: 1488 Saturday: 1818 Sunday: 1653. This one is a good starting point, and you can lessen the calories for a more extreme fat loss.
So, basically, just having a plan,staying with it and mixing it up, will help you get the results you want! Of all the "plans" I have had, this is what has worked the best for me!