Can You Get in Shape in a Week?

Getting in shape is a dedicated process that requires time and consistent workouts alongside a healthy diet. You simply cannot get in shape in a week, but you can use a week to make strides toward a healthy lifestyle.

One week is simply not enough time to get in great shape. Credit: EmirMemedovski/E+/GettyImages

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Build a long-term training program to create a healthy lifestyle. One week is simply not enough time to get in great shape.

One Week Possibilities

While you won't be prepared to run marathons after a week of training, one week is enough time to make small strides towards general fitness. You might lose a few pounds and increase your flexibility, strength and cardiovascular endurance in that period. A week is really just enough time to get started on a program and make exercise a habit.

A person who is very fit can do a two-week tone-up challenge to fine-tune the body, but that individual is already in shape prior to the weeks in question. Starting from scratch requires more than seven days of commitment. In the world of fitness, there are no shortcuts, and you simply must put in the time and effort required to get in shape.

When planning for an event like a high school reunion or wedding where you want to look slim, or an actual athletic event, dedicate at least one month to prepare. Two weeks of working out results in modest gains for many folks, but one month can make a bigger difference. Serious athletes spend several months at a time training for a single event, and the daily effort required to compete adds up to more than one week.

Set Realistic Goals

Goal setting is a powerful method of working towards milestones while tracking results. The American Council on Exercise recommends setting specific and measurable goals that are realistic and attainable. Setting a goal to get in shape in a week is subjective and doesn't work using this methodology.

Try something different like setting the goal of losing two pounds in a week or completing all of your scheduled workouts for the week. This approach creates accountability and ensures that you are present and working through every session on your schedule.

Goal setting is not a static process, and real timelines are useful. Set goals for the week, month, quarter and even the year ahead. Long-term goals take a long time to accomplish, but the weekly and monthly benchmarks are the ones that drive you closer to those big-picture goals. Your long-term goals can also evolve as you make gains and shape a new vision for the future.

Also, break the goals out into specific categories like weight loss, strength, cardio, diet and attendance. The latter ensures that you're consistent with your workouts while eating according to your diet. Use very manageable weight loss goals like one to two pounds per week, and specific strength and cardio goals that involve exact weight amounts for specific lifts and times or endurance periods for cardio.

Read more: 11 Ways to Measure Your Fitness Progress

Find Your Baseline

Measuring weight loss, strength and cardio abilities requires a baseline measurement. This acts as your starting point, and many gyms will actually do an introductory session on body fat and other metrics. Body fat and muscle mass assessments are good starting points. Knowing the time required to run or walk a mile is also useful.

A mile is too much for some individuals, and the process is customized based on the starting condition. Discussing with a certified trainer or dietitian to find your baseline is ideal, but the process is also possible on your own. Some scales can help determine your body fat percentage, and conducting the measurement manually requires a skin fold tool to take the measurements. Ask a trainer to help you out.

After the baseline is set, go ahead and use that information to set goals. Focus on attendance and a healthy diet in the first few weeks. As you get a feel for your progress rate and capabilities, setting realistic goals for the coming months and the year is much easier.

Read more: 10 Ways to Reduce Body Fat Percentage Fast

One Week of Warm-Ups

The first week of exercise in a new program is all about getting acclimated. Focus on flexibility and learning about your body and limitations. Harvard Health recommends low-impact exercises like brisk walking when you're just getting started. This week is not about getting in shape, but more about building a foundation and working into a new program without risking injury.

An ideal first week involves short workouts, stretching, yoga, walking and light jogging to get the joints lubricated and moving. Working up a sweat with a few moderate-intensity sessions on a treadmill or stair master is ideal as well, but only enough to assess your range of motion abilities.

After a full week of healthy eating and moderate exercise, you should notice a change in the way you feel. At this point, moving into the next couple of weeks will allow for a more aggressive pace toward reaching your goals.

Read more: 9 Moves You Can Do Every Day for Better Joint Mobility

Pick Up the Pace

Getting in shape is a series of peaks and valleys. You will build strength and cardio abilities over time, gradually working to a climax. There does, however, come a point where you must taper off after a major peak. Overtraining is a real issue, and taking a day off each week and altering your routine with cross-training and breaks is important. Harvard Health states that taking a break once in a while may help prevent injuries, such as stress fractures, from pushing too hard.

Pick up the pace after your first week, but schedule a few days off after the first month. Work hard prior to those days and hit a peak. This will leave you sore and tired and the break is earned. Set your new goals for the coming month during this break and start training toward a new peak with another scheduled rest afterward.

The needle will continue moving upwards until you are in shape and feeling good about your conditioning. It takes more than a week to reach your goals, but the effort is well worth the rewards.

Plan a Maintenance Program

At some point in this process, you will be in great shape, and finding a maintenance plan is the next step. Maintaining the strength and conditioning without beating up your body and pushing too hard is a fine art. It requires a routine with enough variety to keep you entertained while maintaining the hard-earned progress.

Motivation fluctuates throughout the entire process, so maintaining a positive outlook is imperative. Stay motivated by continuing the goal-setting process and even consider working into competitive events. Races and events that benefit non-profits are a great way to support your community while getting in shape.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends keeping your workouts varied to stay engaged and motivated while making exercise fun. Mix up regular gym sessions with cross-training events to put your new conditioning to good use. Play in a pickup basketball game, join a beach volleyball group or find something that is both fun and challenging.

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