How to Tone Up & Build Muscle in 6 Weeks

Putting a time frame on yourself when it comes to fitness can work in your favor. When you want to tone up and gain muscle in six weeks, you will have a sense of urgency to stay on track and accomplish this short-term goal. Once you've made the decision to do it, the only thing left is your plan of attack. This is going to cause you to make some adjustments to your diet and do the right type of exercises.

A couple taking a jog together in the morning. (Image: Oleksandr Briagin/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Fill up on foods that are high in nutrients and low in empty calories. Eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, sugar and sodium like fast food, commercial baked goods, deep fried foods and candy bars.

Step 2

Increase your water intake and decrease your liquid calorie intake. Cut back on the soda, alcohol, flavored coffees, fruit drinks and sweetened teas. Not only can these beverages promote weight gain, but they can also dehydrate your muscles. Drink water instead and aim for at least 10 cups a day.

Step 3

Eat as soon as you get up and continue to eat every two to three hours. This can boost your metabolism, keep your energy levels stable and keep a supply of nutrients going to your muscles. Combine protein and complex carbs with each meal to make them balanced. Whole grain cereal with low-fat milk and a scoop of protein powder is a breakfast example. Baked turkey loin with steamed brussels sprouts and brown rice is an evening meal example.

Step 4

Perform multijoint exercises to recruit as much muscle fiber as possible. Multijoint exercises use multiple muscles and joints at the same time. Perform exercises like chest presses, upright rows, deadlifts, triceps dips, reverse pull ups and squats. Aim for eight to 12 reps, do three to four sets and take two days off in between workouts.

Step 5

Execute some form of cardio for 30 to 45 minutes three days a week to burn calories. Do anything that will keep you interested for six weeks, such as power walking, cross country skiing, water aerobics, elliptical training or running. Alternate between high and low intensity to increase your caloric expenditure even more. Do your cardio sessions on the off days of your weight training.

Step 6

Rest your body adequately to promote full recoveries and to keep your energy levels elevated during the day. Adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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