women

Unlike other holidays, breaks from exercise generally last longer than you'd like and the souvenirs they come with are far worse than a novelty fridge magnet. You know how it goes: a couple of missed workouts soon snowball into months of no workouts and suddenly you can't button your favorite jeans. In fact, research shows that body fat, weight and waist size can rise and fitness levels can dip after just a five-week hiatus.

Unlike other holidays, breaks from exercise generally last longer than you'd like - and the souvenirs they come with are far worse than a novelty fridge magnet.

Unlike other holidays, breaks from exercise generally last longer than you'd like - and the souvenirs they come with are far worse than a novelty fridge magnet.

But now summer's on the horizon, it's the perfect time to make a comeback. Whatever's been keeping you on the sidelines - an injury, a new relationship, the small issue of bringing new life into the world, or just a lingering 'can't be bothered' feeling - this expertly tailored plan will help get you back in shape and then some. "When you get back into training you'll be weak and tight in a lot of places," says personal trainer Zack Cahill, director of Aegis Training in London. "You need to regain the basics of strength and mobility before doing high-impact exercise like running." That's why this plan has varying break-in periods based on how long you've been off exercise, from a few weeks to (whisper it) a few years. And because we know the roadblocks to exercise are many and varied, we've found expert solutions to your particular physical, psychological and logistical challenges, too. (We're good like that.) No matter where you are now, the bespoke Plan is your road map to a happier, healthier, hotter body by the end of the month.

The obstacle: you’ve given into age

When you hit your late thirties (and beyond) it can get harder to keep the wobble at bay - not least because the gym seems full of lithe young twenty- something. Motivation hits an all-time low and the 'sod it' feeling takes over.

Your plan

Walk, don't run

There's no reason you can't get fit and lean in your forties and fifties, but go about it the right way. "People run because they think it's easy," says Cahill. "But actually it's an advanced form of training. You have to be quite mobile and strong in the right places." Sidestep potential injury and disappointment by building up to running with the free 5K Runner app, and by doing the cardio workouts on a machine. "Cycling and cross training are better, lower-impact options," says Cahill.

There's no reason you can't get fit and lean in your forties and fifties, but go about it the right way.

There's no reason you can't get fit and lean in your forties and fifties, but go about it the right way.

Jump up, tone up

After 45, most women who don't lift weights start losing muscle, mostly from the lower body, which slows your metabolism right down. That means the fast-twitch muscle fibers - the stringy part responsible for generating power are at the highest risk. To maintain your muscle power, think fast, explosive movements. Once you've done 2-3 weeks of this plan, you can add these jump squats into Program B: stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and arms by your sides. Keep your torso upright, squat down till your thighs are parallel to the floor, then jump up as high as you can. Land on your toes and repeat till you've done 2-3 sets of 10-12 jumps.

Lift more, weigh less

As you approach the menopause, staving off osteoporosis becomes a priority. "Go for heavier weights. That's what bones love," says exercise physiologist Dr. Belinda Beck. "Rather than doing 30 reps of a light weight, get the heaviest weight you can lift and repeat three times." That'll be our handbag, then.

The obstacle: you recently started a family

Intense exercise is usually off-limits for six weeks after giving birth. After that, a cocktail of sleep deprivation, stress and milk-laden boobs tend to keep you firmly on the sofa.

Your plan

Manage your middle

Your core - the 29 small, interwoven muscles that hold you up - has taken a hammering. To make room for a growing baby, your rectus abdominis (aka six-pack) stretches down the middle - and can fully separate in a third of pregnancies. "And in C-sections, surgeons have to pull your rectus abdominis further apart to allow for the baby to come out," says Edwina Griffin, a personal trainer who runs the online training program FitMum. Yep: ouch. It takes around six weeks for your stomach to heal (longer for Caesareans), so any core work before this does more harm than good. When you've got the all-clear, add this pelvic tilt to Program A to strengthen your core and pelvic floor: lie on your back with knees bent and feet resting on a chair. Exhale, draw your belly button towards your spine and contract your pelvic floor muscles. Hold for 10-15 seconds and release. Do 10-15 reps.

To make room for a growing baby, your rectus abdominis (aka six-pack) stretches down the middle - and can fully separate in a third of pregnancies.

To make room for a growing baby, your rectus abdominis (aka six-pack) stretches down the middle - and can fully separate in a third of pregnancies.

Think big, lose big

Big muscle groups, that is. "When you come back to training, you want to burn calories, boost metabolism and get strong. Do that by targeting the bigger muscles of your body. Most of your program should be full-body movements like squats and lunges, rows and press-ups," says Cahill. Which is exactly what you get with Programs A and B, handily.

Swim to slim

"The energy levels of new mums can fluctuate, so drop the intensity if you're burnt out," says Cahill. If doing the cardio element of this plan seems less attractive than a date with Chris Brown, try it in a swimming pool. "It's a low-impact workout that uses the water's resistance to build strength, while the water supports your pelvis and helps with circulation and swelling," says Griffin. Better book that Aquarobics class.

If doing the cardio element of this plan seems less attractive than a date with Chris Brown, try it in a swimming pool.

If doing the cardio element of this plan seems less attractive than a date with Chris Brown, try it in a swimming pool.

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