Losing 20 pounds in two months is an achievable goal, but it will take serious commitment and dedication. For both men and women, the best workout will be a combination of high intensity interval training, with committed resistance work. For this workout to truly pay off, however, there are some lifestyle factors you also need to incorporate. Time is of the essence, so now is not the time to be excusing yourself from workouts or justifying that piece of cake. You can do anything for two months -- you just have to commit to it, and be realistic about it. It will be tough, some days you'll hate it, but imagining how great you'll look and feel when you're down 20 pounds should be motivation enough to keep you on board.
Workout Part 1: HIIT
Interval training is an integral aspect of getting in shape quickly. Intervals are a tough form of cardio that create the "perfect storm" of fat burning and lean muscle development. [Reference 1] Pick an activity you are comfortable with -- be it running, swimming, skipping, cycling or a challenging bodyweight exercise -- and go hell for leather for a period of 30 to 60 seconds. Then take a rest of 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat. Do eight to ten rounds of this per session. If you are new to exercise, rest longer if you need to, and pay attention to how your body is feeling. If you are in pain (beyond the usual muscle burn) or feeling lightheaded, stop and reassess the level of intensity you are working at.
Workout Part 2: Resistance
Resistance work is very effective for burning fat. It uses anaerobic pathways to fuel the activity, which causes your body to draw on stored energy. Popular forms of resistance training include weightlifting and bodyweight-only training. Resistance work burns a large amount of energy during the workout, and also facilitates high EPOC rates -- excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or "afterburn" -- which causes you to continue burning increased amounts of energy in the hours (and even days) after your workout. [Reference 2] Needless to say, this is very useful when you're trying to lose weight on a deadline.
Now that you know the two key elements of the workout, let's put them together into a clear schedule. Here's what your workout schedule should look like. Monday: upper body resistance workout (bench press, shoulder press, lateral raise, pushups and tricep dips), followed by a HIIT session. Tuesday: lower body resistance workout (squats, deadlifts, leg press, calf raise and hyperextensions). Wednesday: 30 minute walk outdoors. Thursday: upper body resistance workout (bent over row, overhead tricep extensions, bicep curls, cable flyes, lat pulldowns) followed by a HIIT session. Friday: lower body resistance workout (squats, deadlifts, leg extensions, single leg squats, walking lunges). Saturday: HIIT session, followed by a 30 minute walk outdoors. Sunday: rest day.
Training Is Not A Magic Bullet
Exercise is a vital aspect of losing weight. However, it's not the only aspect. There are two other factors you must consider if you are to lose 20 pounds in just two months. The first is your diet: cut out any food that stands in the way of your goal. This includes junk food, alcohol, most take-out, and sugary drinks. Focus on eating lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, whole grains and dairy, while drinking plenty of water. Secondly, sleep is vital as well. Sleep has been found to have a direct impact on your body composition [Reference 3], so always aim to get eight or nine hours a night. If you can't manage that, schedule yourself regular naps to help catch up.