Get strong, get toned – monthly feature in Health & Fitness magazine

March 26, 2015

Sweat poured and your muscles burned but you made it through the first 30 days of our four-month shape-up plan. Good for you! If you found it hard going, be warned – things are about to get even tougher! Top trainer, Jean-Claude Vacassin, has shifted things around a bit from month one. Now, instead of steady-state cardio, you’ll be doing anaerobic intervals to trigger fat loss. He’s also increased the intensity of each weights session by cutting back on the number of reps you’ll complete. You know what that means? You’ll need to up the resistance to ensure you can’t lift any more or less weight per set.


‘A lower number of repetitions, in the six-to-eight range, increases something called “functional hypertrophy”, which means it builds functional muscle mass,’ explains Vacassin. ‘From a scientific perspective, this type of training taps into high-threshold (fast-twitch) muscle fibres, and increases the efficiency of your neuromuscular system. From a results perspective, it builds definition and boosts weight loss.’

This is the month when you’ll start to notice a lot of changes – in your fitness levels and body shape. It won’t be easy, so expect to find these workouts quite challenging. ‘I’ve increased the intensity of training across the whole of this month’s plan,’ adds Vacassin. ‘You’ll find both the resistance and cardio workouts a lot harder, but you should, by now, be used to challenging yourself. Hopefully, you’ll also be spurred on by seeing your body change quite a lot over the next four weeks.’ Time to reap your workout rewards.


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You can do these anaerobic intervals in a variety of ways – sprint up a hill, pull a sled weight or pedal on a stationary bike in the gym. The type of activity you do is not as important as how hard you do it. This is a tough workout – it should leave you gasping for air.


Do 20 seconds of anaerobic work at ‘all-out’ speed (80-90 per cent of your maximum heart rate or 8 to 9/10 effort) and 140 seconds of active rest – for example, sprint for 20 seconds and jog/walk for 140 seconds. If you’re working out hard enough, you will need the full 140 seconds to catch your breath! Repeat eight to 12 times.

Personal trainer Jean-Claude Vacassin owns W10 Performance gym in West London. He has advised athletes, sports brands and film companies, as well as working in nutrition, functional medicine and rehabilitation.