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“Ultimate You” says less is more at the gym

Dropping a dress size can cost time and money. Trainers like Tracy Anderson charge $900 a month and demand you log seven to ten hours a week at her studio. But busy New Yorkers need maximum results in a reasonable amount of time, not a second job. That’s why Ultimate You: a 4-Phase Total Body Makeover, which Rodale publishes tomorrow, is a breath of fresh anaerobic air.

Co-authored by a trainer and a naturopathic doctor, Ultimate You’s lose-fat philosophy centers on creating “metabolic disturbance,” which keeps your metabolism in overdrive around the clock. Training tools include a combination of high-intensity cardio intervals (running, Spinning, whatever your poison), plus short, efficient strength-training sessions, and eating for optimum hormonal balance. You have to work hard, but you’ll put in less time at it.

Joe Dowdell, trainer, model, and now author

Trainer Joe Dowdell owns Peak Performance, an expensive, boutique gym in the Flatiron, and he moonlights as a model for Wilhelmina’s Sports & Fitness division. He comes across as bit of a Zoolander in person, albeit one who can speak intelligently on the importance of revving up fat-burning hormones so you body consumes calories even when you’re at rest.

Dr. Brooke Kalanick, a naturopathic doctor with a Greenwich Village office, takes Dowdell’s metabolic-disturbance thesis and layers in her knowledge of how hormones affect your metabolism and how well-timed meals keep insulin and cortisol in check. (Alexia also likes her bison-n-kale chipotle chili recipe.)

How do you gain more from brief workouts? Instead of focusing on the number of calories your body expends during your actual workout, you center your thinking around how many calories your body burns over 24 hours—and maximize that number.

About 28 minutes of cardio three times a week is all you need, says Dowdell, so feel free to snigger at gym-goers mindlessly toiling at a constant low-grade level on the Elliptical for 45-minutes.

Dowdell advocates a three-minute warm up and cool down with several high intensity intervals in the middle that take you to your anaerobic threshold (or breathlessness). These raise your resting metabolism and encourage the development of lean muscle mass. Recovery and regeneration (read: sauna, static stretching, foam rolling, warm baths, and special shakes) are just as important as the work-outs themselves.

After 28 minutes at Anderson’s gym, you’d just be finishing the warm-up.

Ultimate You: a 4-Phase Total Body Makeover by Joe Dowdell and Brooke Kalanick, Rodale Press, May 2010, $25.99.