Do you have an image of your ideal body in your mind?

Perhaps you'd like to increase the size and strength of your upper body... Or maybe you want to lose that spare tire around your middle... And then again, you may want to look sharp in your business suit for presentations. Whatever it is, this program will transform the image you have in your mind into a reality, if you follow these three steps.

Resistance Training

The cornerstone of the program is resistance training. Strength training with free weights is the best way to build muscle to reshape your body. And when you add muscle to your body, you increase your metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories at rest.

The goal of the program is to train your full body, with free weights, three times a week. Multiple studies have shown that performing total body workouts, rather than working isolated body parts on different days, is the most effective way to gain muscle.

Each workout should emphasize foot-based lower body exercises such as the lunge, step-up and squat and upper body exercises which include the push-up, pull-up and overhead press. These exercises involve multiple joints, so you work several muscles at once which stimulates the most muscle growth.

Interval Training

Without a doubt interval training is the fastest and most effective way to lose fat. One reason is that intervals cause your body to release growth hormone, the anti-aging hormone which signals the body to burn fat and grow muscle. Researchers report that a 30 second all-out sprint can increase growth hormone by as much as 530 percent.

Swimming, inline skating, power-walking, cycling and running the steps at your local college stadium are all ways to perform intervals. You can also use your favorite cardio machine - the stair stepper, treadmill, cycle, or elliptical trainer.

Each workout begins with a 10 minute warm-up. Then sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds and alternate each sprint with 90 seconds of lower-intensity activity. Start with eight or ten intervals and then gradually work your way up. This program works best if performed every other day with at least one day of rest a week.

Low-Carb Diet

Contrary to conventional wisdom, many studies have shown that it's not dietary fat that's converted into body fat; it's carbohydrates that are converted into fat by the action of insulin. Many experts agree that most overweight people became overweight because of a condition known as hyperinsulinemia, or elevated insulin levels in the blood.

Whenever you eat a high-carbohydrate meal, the increased blood sugar stimulates the production of insulin by the pancreas. Insulin is the hormone that allows blood sugar to be used by the cells, but it also causes fat to be deposited in fat cells and stimulates the brain to produce hunger signals. So restricting your intake of carbohydrates makes it a lot easier to drop fat.

While there are many different versions of the low-carb diet, I recommend the diet that we evolved on - the hunter-gatherer diet. This diet was mostly animal based. The protein was derived from wild game and fish. The carbohydrates came from fresh fruits and vegetables. And the main sources of fat were wild animals, fish and nuts.

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Article by Mikki Reilly, BA, MFS, of FitnessTransform. Visit her web site,, and her blog, for the the most up-to-date news, information and tips that will help you transform your health, fitness and overall quality of life.