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Corporeal Downsizing


Inside every muscle mary, a lean, chisel-chested man yearns to break free. Here's an escape plan.

In an age of corporations gone belly-up and company cost-cutting, the body shouldn't be spared the new austerity. Mass is out; svelte is in. And with budgets slimming down, the 'roid aesthetic of muscle marys is giving way to the lean physique of the long-distance runner. But, as Monika Sumpter, a trainer at Chelsea's Equinox gym in New York City explains, pink-slipping your bulbous biceps isn't always easy. 'You can't just stop training,' she says. If you do, she warns, 'you'll risk wasting all your hard work. Your muscle will just turn to fat.' Instead, Sumpter suggests altering your workout in three ways. First, stop taking supplements like creatine. She also suggests cutting down your caloric intake. Lesson: less in, less on. Second, alter your workout from a split routine -- chest one day, arms another -- and focus instead on the whole body. Sumpter suggests circuit training two to three times a week. The last step is cardio training: 'Working at 85% of your maximum heart rate burns not only fat but also carbohydrates,' says Sumpter. Most big boys, she points out, neglect cardio for crazed curls, but the key to slimming down -- and to better general health -- is upping the frequency of your cardio workouts to three or four times a week. Do that, and you'll be tightening your belt in six weeks.

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