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Get In Shape In Time To Say "I Do!"

Fitday Editor

As a fitness trainer, I spend a lot of time working with other people, getting their minds and bodies in shape. Sometimes, that doesn't leave much time for my own mind and body. I recently married the love of my life, and for about a 3-month period, I cut back on working with clients in order to focus on myself and my beautiful bride so we could both look and feel great on our big day and during the honeymoon after.

This is the plan that we used to get in the best shape of our lives. The results: She weighed in less than what she weighed in high school when she was a competitive dancer, and I was able to shed 15 pounds, increase lean muscle and fit into a size 33 dress pants for the first time since *NSYNC was a thing. How did we do it? Hard work, diligence and no days off!

For The Bride

My wife and I have been together for about five years, and the one thing we know for sure: we can't work out together. So when she asked me to help her with a fitness plan to get in shape for our wedding, I knew she was serious. Since Jess (my wife) is sometimes reluctant to go to the gym, I knew I had to create a regimen for her that she could stick to and would still challenge her. Our focus was toning, cardio and healthy eating for her. She followed a regimen that required her to visit the gym about four times a week for a minimum of 45 minutes. We also had her eating small, healthy meals every 2.5 to 3 hours, consisting of fruits, greens and vegetables, and lean protein.

She also swapped out one meal per day for a protein smoothie, packed with lots of fruit, skim milk, and almond butter on top of one-half serving of whey protein. Her 45-minute routine consisted of 10 to 15 minutes of medium-intensity cardiovascular exercise (primarily treadmill and elliptical work), 5 to 10 minutes of dynamic stretching, and 20 to 25 minutes of low-weight and body-weight exercises with multiple repetitions (15 to 20 reps per set for three to four sets). We had her vary the lifting to target total body on day one, upper body on day two, lower body on day three, then an additional total-body lifting session on day four. We focused primarily on squats, calf extensions, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, bicep curls and triceps extensions, shoulder presses and lat pulldowns. She didn't want to look bulky in her dress, and she definitely didn't! In three months, she dropped from 147 pounds to 130 pounds.

For The Groom

I tried to stick to an eating plan similar to my wife's by cutting fast food, soda and processed stuff pretty much completely out of my diet. I ate about five times per day, every 2 to 4 hours, consuming organic fruits and veggies, lots of nuts and lean protein.

I averaged about 60 minutes in the gym four days per week. My workouts were primarily 20 minutes of high-intensity cardio (between 65 and 85 percent maximum heart rate) and alternate days of superset lifting. Day one was primarily chest and legs (typically with high-volume sets of 10 with 10 reps each), day two focused on core and back, day three targeted arms and shoulders, then day four was dedicated to a total-body weight circuit. I ended up dropping from 189 pounds down to 177 pounds by our wedding day, increased my bench press max to 225 pounds and my leg press max to 540 pounds, and fit in those size 33 pants like a boss.

This regimen worked for us because we stuck to it and put the work in. If you are getting ready to tie the knot, a local trainer can get you started on a similar plan that will get you into tip-top shape before you say "I Do!"


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Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous professional, collegiate and amateur athletes across many different fields, including professional and arena football players, Mixed Martial Artists, elite runners, international soccer players, and more.

Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA, as well as the owner and operator of Funky Fitness PA, a personal training studio, in home personal training and personalized fitness planning service. Ryan's work has been featured across the US and the globe, working with clients in all facets of life. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can check Ryan out on Facebook or follow him on Twitter, or you can reach him at [email protected].

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