Start now to get in shape for the new year

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photoSherri McMillan demonstrates the forward-hinge bend.

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photoSherri McMillan demonstrates the forward-hinge bend.

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It doesn't matter whether you're going to be celebrating in Times Square, Las Vegas, Sydney or Maui -- you're going to want to look your very best to bring in the new year. We've only got five weeks, so we've got to get to it.

But I'm also aware of the fact that we're heading into the holiday season, and most of you are going to struggle to try and fit in your workouts on top of all the parties and shopping and other commitments. So the workout I'm designing is going to focus on getting results in the most time-efficient manner.

Your cardio workouts are going to be short but intense. You'll be working out for only 20 minutes, but I'd like you to focus on hitting an intensity that is quite a bit higher than you'd normally train. If we're going to reduce the duration of your workouts, you've got to pick up the intensity and go hard.

Your muscle-conditioning segments are going to involve movements that combine lower body and upper body exercises; so again, we can be more efficient and get the desired results in a shorter period of time.

By the end of the five-week period, each of your workouts should take no longer than 45-60 minutes and will include a warm-up, cardio, muscle-conditioning segment and cool-down stretch.

Cardio

Start with a short, easy 5-minute warm-up. Then begin your 20-minute cardio segment involving any activity of your choice like running, walking, cycling, or stair climbing. Start with 4.5 minutes at a moderate pace and then for 30 seconds, pick up the pace and perform a high-intensity interval. Perform this set four times for a 20-minute workout. Do this workout three times this week on alternating days.

Muscle-conditioning

Forward hinge + bent row: Start standing and holding hand weights. Set your posture by contracting your abdominals, pressing your chest out and up and your shoulders back and down. Keeping your knees only slightly bent, slowly bend forward at the hips until you can go no further without having to bend your knees further. Once you are in this forward position, slowly pull your hand weights up and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Slowly release the arms back to the starting position. Contracting your glutes (buttocks) and hamstrings (back of the thigh), slowly extend back upward until you are fully upright. Remember to keep your abdominals contracted throughout the entire exercise. If you experience any back pain while performing this exercise, discontinue it immediately. Perform 8-12 reps for one set.

Chest press + leg lifts: Lie on your back holding free weights in your hands, with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Start with your elbows bent at your side at shoulder height and your hands positioned over your elbows. Slowly press the hand weights up until your elbows are fully extended. At the same time as you press the hand weights up, slowly lift one leg a few inches off the floor while keeping your abdominals contracted and your back in a stable and neutral position. Perform 8-10 times on each leg for a total of 16-20 reps for one set.

Side-lying abdominal stabilization: Lie on your side while propping yourself up on one elbow. Slowly lift your hips off the floor so that your body weight is supported on your elbow and your knees (less advanced) or your toes (more advanced). Keep your abdominals contracted throughout the entire exercise and maintain good posture. Hold for five seconds and do this five times on each side.

Sherri McMillan M.Sc. owns Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver. She can be reached at nwPersonalTraining.com or ShapeupwithSherri.com.