Make 2012 The Fittest Year Of Your Life

healthy snacks, pistachio, apple and string cheese( — It’s time to build a great new body, and there are great ways you can achieve this, season to season. By exercising three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes (make at least two of those workouts strength training), you can have the body you want in no time.

Winter: Base-Building and Boredom-Busting
Your resolutions probably came with a regular gym membership and not-so-regular motivation. But this is when you need a schedule most. You have to build a solid foundation of strength and cardiovascular health before you can move on to more intense and more fun activities. If you haven’t exercised regularly, start with 2 days a week. Hit 6 weeks, and it’s a habit. Start here.

Stay Low
Keep your cardio intensity lower than about 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, or a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. If you push too hard, you’ll peak early and burn out. Plus, you’ll burn fat by doing 30 minutes at 60 to 70 percent. When you train at lower intensities, you’re teaching your body to use fat rather than carbohydrates.

Be Spontaneous
Every once in a while, choose exercises the way you’d browse through a bookstore go in without a plan. You can do anything, just whatever you feel like, for 30 minutes to an hour. It’s a great way to avoid boredom, and you don’t have to wait for machines. For cardio, follow the guidelines outlined above. For strength, keep your weights low (low enough so that you can complete two to three sets of 10 mildly challenging reps), or just do one set of each exercise, mixing them as you please without thinking about what’s coming next.

Schedule Breaks
The key to long-term success in a workout is the same as it is at work: Avoid burnout. Every 4 weeks ease up during the last week. That will give your body time to absorb the work you’ve been doing. Your muscles get time to repair themselves, and you’ll be more ready for the workouts to come. Do it by scaling back the number of workouts by one session (if you normally do three or four) or two sessions (if you do more) and by easing up on the intensity.

Spring: High-Intensity Fat-Burning
Now you can start mixing and maxing, so you’ll have an easier time slipping into your Tostitos of a bathing suit. The party starts when winter is over. You’ve done your homework, so now you can kick your program into gear by increasing your intensity. But you also need to watch for overuse injuries, so cross-training is key. Here’s how to ramp up your routine.