It's not that Jamie Bamber has more willpower than the rest of us. He just has a built-in advantage: "Producers give me a date when I need to take my shirt off. It's an instant goal," says the 34-year-old star of Battlestar Galactica. "Everyone's going to see me, from the crew to the viewers. If I didn't have a date on the calendar, I wouldn't be as disciplined as I am."
When was the last time you set a date to show off your abs? Pick one six to eight weeks from now. By then, you should be ready to show friends, family and women you don't know just how hard you've worked.
Prepare for the barbecues and beaches now with this fat-blasting cardio workout.
1. ESCAPE THE CAGE
When he's not being chased by adoring female fans who saw his body in People magazine's "Sexiest" issue, Bamber's searching for the next great racetrack. "I don't know what to do in my mind when I'm on a treadmill," Bamber says. So he takes his cardio training outdoors, a strategy that West Virginia University researchers found makes you 52 percent more likely to exercise frequently.
"The message is clear," says Paul Gordon, Ph.D., the study's lead author. "Don't force yourself to work out in a gym when you can better tolerate running outside." Gordon suggests finding a community trail in your area — it's free and safe, and you don't have to wait in line to use it.
2. ATTACK HILLS
Sprinting raises your resting metabolism, which means you burn extra calories after your workout as well as during your run. Bamber makes his sprints harder — and more effective — by running uphill. Hill sprints can make you a faster runner in 6 weeks, according to a new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. And the faster you run, the higher your resting metabolism will soar.
Try running hard for 10 to 15 seconds at a time on steep inclines and 20 to 30 seconds on moderate inclines, says Robert dos Remedios, C.S.C.S., director of speed, strength, and conditioning at College of the Canyons, in Santa Clarita, California. Repeat this six to eight times in a workout, jogging lightly for about 60 seconds between sprints.
3. RUN WILD
"I change my route and my pace as often as I can," says Bamber. "I just improvise." For instance, when he's running on flat, relatively dull terrain, he'll spot a tree or stop sign a couple of hundred yards ahead and sprint to it, and then slow to a jog until his breathing has returned to a normal rate. Then he charges toward his next mark.
Try it yourself. Run sporadic intervals, with one thing in mind: As soon as you hit a mark, have a new one in sight. "This keeps your brain and body active," says Dos Remedios. As a result, you'll always be working hard without having to check your watch constantly.
4. TRAIN HARDER
"I love the idea of going on an amazing hike up a mountain, but doing it at a trot," says Bamber. "The tricky footfalls keep my mind engaged."
Is there a portion of your workout that you're walking when you could be running? Think about it. Raising your intensity may be more important for burning off belly fat than how often you exercise or for how long, report researchers at Smith College, in Massachusetts. Kick your workout into a higher gear.