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find your target heart rate

To really burn calories and get in shape, you should try to stay within your target heart rate zone during workouts. To find your zone, first figure out your maximum heart rate (the highest your heart should be beating during your exercise session), use this formula:

220 - your age (in years) = maximum heart rate

Once you've found your maximum heart rate, use the following formulas to find your target heart rate zone. Your target heart rate zone should be somewhere between 30 and 60 beats per minute less than your maximum heart rate.

maximum heart rate - 30 = target heart rate high

maximum heart rate - 60 = target heart rate low

Wedding workout makeover plan

Shape Up: 6-Month Wedding Fitness Plan

6 months to a toned, wedding day ready body!

Photo: Thinkstock

Want to get in shape for your wedding day? Use this simple month-by-month plan as a guideline for your workouts. With it, you'll find all levels of exercise, and reap all the benefits. The program uses two-week cycles, so if six months sounds too long, just take it two weeks at a time. The best part? No gym membership required!

Wedding Fitness Checklist

Cardiovascular workouts, like walking or jogging, can be done anywhere outside. Just make sure you have the following:

  • Comfortable clothes
  • Running shoes
  • Two 3- or 5-pound hand weights
  • A straight-back chair
  • A mat or blanket (optional)

Month 1

This month, you should mainly be focused on just getting active and engaged in the program. A good way to get motivated is to start a workout diary. Write down the date, all the reasons why you need to work out, and what your goals are. Write down your weight (always weigh yourself in the morning for consistency), and use a measuring tape to record the size of your chest, waist, hips, thighs, and forearms, so you can monitor your progress. To stay motivated, keep notes all the way through.
Tip: Weigh in and take measurements once a month only. Focusing on quick results will only discourage you.

Weeks #1 and #2

  • 20 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week

Weeks #3 and #4

  • 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week

Month 2

Still here? Good work! Now get out that measuring tape and scale. Any improvements? You shouldn't focus too much on weight loss yet, but your energy should be higher. Keep writing in your journal, and pay special attention to how you feel, how you're dealing with stress, and what you think you are gaining from your exercise program.
Tip: Remember to check your heart rate about 15 minutes into your aerobic exercise to make sure you're hitting your target heart rate.

Weeks #5 and #6

  • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
  • 2 sets of 10 stomach crunches
  • 1 set of 10 push-ups

Weeks #7 and #8

  • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
  • 3 sets of 10 stomach crunches
  • 2 sets of 10 push-ups

Month 3

This is usually when people start to give up. Get out your diary, and flip back to your first entry. Remind yourself why you are doing this. Also, flip ahead in your calendar and check how quickly your wedding day is approaching: Aren't you glad you started exercising weeks ago? Weigh yourself and take your measurements again. Are you making progress? Even if you haven't lost weight, you should see some results in your muscle tone.
Good to know: Muscle weighs more than fat, so you might have gained a few pounds, but you've most likely turned some of that fat into muscle.

Weeks #9 and #10

  • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
  • 3 sets of 10 stomach crunches
  • 2 sets of 10 push-ups
  • 1 set of 10 squats

Weeks #11 and #12

  • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
  • 3 sets of 10 stomach crunches
  • 3 sets of 10 push-ups
  • 2 sets of 10 squats
  • 2 sets of 10 bicep curls
  • 2 sets of 10 tricep curls

Month 4

Take a minute to write a note of congratulations to yourself -- you're doing an amazing job (we know it sounds cheesy, but do it anyway). Weigh yourself and take your measurements: If you've been following the program, you definitely should notice some changes by now.
Good to know: At this point, if nothing has changed, you may need a more advanced program, and you should consult a personal trainer.

Weeks #13 and #14

  • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
  • 3 sets of 15 stomach crunches
  • 3 sets of 15 push-ups
  • 3 sets of 15 squats
  • 3 sets of 15 bicep curls
  • 3 sets of 15 tricep curls
  • 2 sets of 10 chest presses

Weeks #15 and #16

  • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
  • 3 sets of 15 stomach crunches
  • 3 sets of 15 push-ups
  • 3 sets of 15 squats
  • 3 sets of 15 bicep curls
  • 3 sets of 15 tricep curls
  • 3 sets of 15 chest presses

Month 5

Okay, now it's time to get serious: There are only eight weeks to go until your wedding. Weigh in and take your measurements. Now, where do you still need the most help? Stomach? Thighs? Butt? Pick one or two areas, and focus, focus, focus. We're going to continue along the same program, but now we're going to add an intense three sets of 15 extra exercises for whichever area still needs help. With every crunch or set, envision yourself in your gown -- you'll get there.

Weeks #17 and #18

  • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
  • 3 sets of 15 stomach crunches
  • 3 sets of 15 push-ups
  • 3 sets of 15 squats
  • 3 sets of 15 bicep curls
  • 3 sets of 15 tricep curls
  • 3 sets of 15 chest presses
  • 3 sets of 15 "extra target area"

Weeks #19 and #20

  • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
  • 3 sets of 15 stomach crunches
  • 3 sets of 15 push-ups
  • 3 sets of 15 squats
  • 3 sets of 15 bicep curls
  • 3 sets of 15 tricep curls
  • 3 sets of 15 chest presses
  • 3 sets of 15 "extra target area"

Month 6

Just four weeks to go! As you get closer to your wedding date, your crazed schedule may threaten to derail your exercise program, but don't let it. Weigh in and take your measurements, but don't be surprised if they aren't as important anymore -- the way you feel should be motivation enough to keep exercising. We are going to continue working at the same level as last month. If you're having trouble finding the time to keep up this pace, cut back the number of sets you do, but use heavier weights.

Weeks #21 and #22

  • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
  • 3 sets of 15 stomach crunches
  • 3 sets of 15 push-ups
  • 3 sets of 15 squats
  • 3 sets of 15 bicep curls
  • 3 sets of 15 tricep curls
  • 3 sets of 15 chest presses
  • 3 sets of 15 "extra target area"

Weeks #23 and #24

  • 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week
  • 3 sets of 15 stomach crunches
  • 3 sets of 15 push-ups
  • 3 sets of 15 squats
  • 3 sets of 15 bicep curls
  • 3 sets of 15 tricep curls
  • 3 sets of 15 chest presses

-- The Knot

See More: Getting in Shape