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Authors: Jillian Michaels

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BOOK: Slim for Life

One warning: while the physical benefits of plyo with regard to performance and physique are unsurpassed, this type of training is extremely intense. Don’t attempt to experiment or exploit this technique unless you already have a moderate to good level of fitness. If you have an injury or health condition, be sure to consult your doctor before engaging in this activity.


Ever look around the gym at all the weird gadgets and apparatuses like disc pillows, BOSU balls, wobble boards, and so on and wonder how to use them? Well, lucky for you, I’m here to tell you: they’re there for
balance training. In prepping to write this book, however, I did an enormous review of the recent research, comparing balance training on the floor to using any of these gadgets, particularly in conjunction with strength training. I found a host of inconsistencies, indeed rebel-rousing controversies. Basically I found support for my philosophy, which is that you’ll be able to train harder and get better results when you stick to solid surfaces and it’s your body that becomes imbalanced, not what you’re standing on.

I’m not saying that a balance tool won’t improve your balance. But if you want to improve muscle strength, muscle stimulation, and muscle engagement—which is what calorie utilization is all about—I want
to get unstable, not the platform you’re standing on. Exercises that require stabilization utilize more muscles and are far harder than ones that don’t; this will help you burn calories, which is what we’re after. In addition, balance is an integral part of overall fitness training to improve coordination, athletic skill, and posture. These gizmos and tools are all fine and fun to play with. I’m not saying don’t ever use them. Just remember, I’m about efficiency and getting the best use from your time.

Here are some examples of how to get unbalanced in ways that maximize your burn:

Raise a limb.
Instead of balancing on both feet and or both arms during an exercise, raise an arm or leg up or off the floor to create instability such as:

•  Do push-ups and try raising a leg off the ground as you perform the exercise.

•  Do single-leg squats.

•  Perform a side lunge, and as you return to the start position, instead of tapping your lunging leg back to the ground, raise it in a knee lift.

•  Perform a plank with one arm elevated and out to the side, or extend both an arm and a leg.

•  Do single-leg dead lifts with dumbbells (anytime you bend over then stand up again; it also challenges your sensory system).

•  Do cable rows standing on one leg instead of two.

The possibilities are endless. Simply assess the exercise you’re performing, and see if you can remove one pillar of support.

Platform savvy.
This method incorporates using a solid surface, off of which you lift or lower your own body weight (a calorie burner and a core strengthener) while still testing your balance. Here are a few examples:

•  Do single-leg step-ups with a knee lift on a bench or high step.

•  Stand on a step and rear-lunge off it.

•  Place your rear foot on a flat bench, and do stationary lunges.

•  Place one foot or both atop a step platform, and do a push-up.

To get the most out of balance training, incorporate the two simple principles above with a body weight or free weight exercise, and you’ll take your results to the next level.


All it takes to torch 15 percent more calories on the
treadmill is a little incline. Even upping the treadmill to a 5 percent incline and walking can make a huge difference. The higher you go, the more calories you burn at any speed, without tacking more time onto your workout. Here’s an example: If a 145-pound woman walks for 30 minutes at 4.0 mph (a solid fitness-walk pace) without an incline, she’ll burn 132 calories. If she adds a 5 percent incline, she’ll burn 220 calories. Up the incline to 10 percent, she’s still walking, but she’ll burn 312 calories. Bonus: upping the incline burns approximately the same amount of calories as jogging for 30 minutes on a flat treadmill. So if you aren’t able to jog or run, walking on an incline gives you added intensity, added calorie burn, and great muscle conditioning without added impact.


Surely you’ve heard me hollering at contestants on
Biggest Loser
to get their hands off the treadmill, elliptical trainer, or stepper. I do this because
you burn up to 25 percent fewer calories when you hold on.
That’s a heck of a lot, right? Now you see why I yell at them! Honestly, if you are gonna spend that time putting in the work, don’t you want to maximize your results? So the next time you have a
cardio day at the gym, let go of the handrails! Not only does this up your calorie burn and workout challenge, it’s a great and intense workout for your core.



If cardio is part of your training, you won’t gain any muscle.

While performing cardio may make gaining muscle a little harder, it’s still possible to get ripped doing it. If “shredding” is your goal and you love your cardio too, just make sure to continue doing resistance training during the week, get adequate nutrients necessary for muscle maintenance, and switch your cardio sessions from longer endurance sessions to shorter sprints. Ever seen the legs of a sprinter? Enough said.

When you’re walking, jogging, or running, drive your elbows straight back instead of loosely swinging your arms or letting them hang at your sides. This will instantaneously increase your pace with less leg effort and increase whole-body training and workout efficacy.


If you’ve been toiling on the treadmill and never think about getting on another piece of cardio equipment at the gym, this tip is for you. Every machine will challenge your body differently, and whether you think so or not, it’s easy to get accustomed to the same old, same old. To get cross-training benefits, as well as to beat a cardio plateau and bust boredom, use a different machine for each cardio workout. Or get creative and use two or three different machines in the same workout. The time will go by more quickly, and you’ll get an amazing workout!


A great way to fend off boredom is to take your workout outdoors. You have everything you need just outside your front door, right in your own neighborhood. You can get a mega burn using your surrounding environment to create your own personal gym. Find a park or wide-open space, and perform old-school calisthenics like jumping jacks, mountain climbers, jump rope, butt kicks, or high knees. Do body weight training like squats, pliés, lunges, push-ups, or sit-ups. You can utilize outdoor props such as a bench, a kid’s jungle gym, a wall, a tree, or a lamppost.


Toning shoes actually shape your legs and lift your butt.

Of course they don’t! This notion falls under the category of “if it sounds too good to be true, it is”! Two recent studies from the American Council on Exercise concluded there’s “simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories, or improve muscle strength and tone.” The council’s Todd Galati found no difference between these special shoes and regular sneakers (other than their prices), noting, “These shoes are not a magic pill.” It’s the walking that will make a difference in your life—not the shoes.

Here are some fun ideas:

•  Do wall sits on a flat wall.

•  Do triceps dips, push-ups, step-ups, or sit-squats on a bench.

•  Do lat pull-up rows holding on to a sturdy tree or street pole.

•  Do reverse lunges or step-plyos off a curb (not on a busy street!).

•  Do pull-ups on playground jungle gym bars.

•  For cardio, do HIIT intervals outside, using your blocks as interval definers: walk a block, run a block. Squeeze in any of the above exercises along the way.

•  At a park or at the beach, create two markers approximately 50 yards
apart. (One long stride is roughly equal to one yard.) Then sprint from one marker to the other 20 times. Each time you reach a marker, rotate in one of the following exercises: 20 lunges, 20 squats, 20 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, or a plank-hold for 20 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds between intervals.


Doing your cardio outside can dramatically enhance your burn. Studies show that, thanks to the variations in incline and instability provided by terrain changes (as well as the added resistance from wind or water currents against your body), your heart rate beats an average of 5 to 10 times more per minute when you work out outside. For your next workout, if the weather cooperates, pound the pavement instead of the treadmill. Try road biking instead of going to spin class; run up the bleachers at the local high school stadium instead of using the stepper at your gym. Swim in the ocean instead of in the pool; instead of using the rowing machine, go kayaking on a local river.


☐ Consistency is key.

☐ Remodel your muscles.

☐ Stay in motion.

☐ Put it together.

☐ Push it good.

☐ Get down!


☐ Split it up and take a load off.

☐ Second time’s a charm.

☐ Angle it!

☐ Pump it up.

☐ Mix it up.

☐ Speed it up.

☐ Double down.

☐ Give yourself leverage.

☐ Twist and shout.

☐ Get up!

☐ Become unstable.

☐ Inch up your incline.

☐ Hands off.

☐ Do arm-powered cardio.

☐ Switch it up.


☐ Dress for the part.

☐ Do a five-minute warm-up.

☐ Take it to the hood.

☐ Feel the earth move.

Chapter 2

Total number of
I’m incorporating


As I’ve said, the purpose of this book is to make sure you’re bomb-proof. I want you to have a ridiculous number of strategies in place so you can handle anything and everything that might otherwise compromise your ability to lose weight and get healthy. With that in mind, it’s imperative we tackle anything that happens in your home that can affect your weight and wellness. Your home is literally your home base. For this reason we have to be sure it’s rock solid. I’m talking about the groceries you bring into it, the home gym you might consider constructing for it, the beauty products you keep in your bathroom, and even the home cleansers you use. That’s right, I’m leaving no stone unturned. I love you that much! If you’re panicking and thinking I’m going to cost you a fortune in this chapter, think again. You’ll probably save money when all is said and done.


First let’s tackle the most obvious hurdle, and that’s what’s in your kitchen. We talked a lot about diet principles and strategies in
Chapter 1
, and now it’s time to start implementing them.

The food you keep and cook is an integral part of your success, and this section is going to illustrate all the ways to slim down your grocery choices so they subsequently slim you down.


This one is as obvious as it gets. Avoid the center aisles as much as you can, and shop the store perimeter, where fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and fish are usually located. The center aisles are where the junk food—cookies, chips, breads, cereals, and other tempting nonnecessities—are found.

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