Change up your workouts. Making even small changes to your strength workout can go a long way. Try altering the order of your exercises, or incorporate new pieces of equipment for the exercises you’re already doing, such as using free weights instead of a machine. You can also replace some or all of the exercises you’re doing with moves that work the same muscle groups. For example, instead of the chest press on a weight machine, switch to push-ups.
Why she switched: After graduating, I started teaching group fitness programs but all of them were around cardio ― my favorite class to teach was kickboxing. I would jump around the room for 60 minutes with my participants, drenched in sweat. It was amazing and tons of fun, but I felt that after a few years, my fitness had plateaued. I wasn’t getting leaner or more toned. I also felt like I wasn’t “powerful” enough in front of the class. Some of my other instructor colleagues really were a presence in front of the room. You looked at them and you thought, “Wow, that person is STRONG.” I wanted to be like that.

Increase the number of repetitions you complete. For example, if you’re currently completing 10 repetitions with proper form before moving on to the next heavier weight, increase that number to 12 and then 15. Once you can complete 15 reps with ease and proper form, increase the resistance by 5%. This “double progressive training protocol” is effective for strength development and helps reduce the risk of increasing the amount of weight before you’re ready.
Why she switched: One day, I overheard another instructor say, “If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to incorporate weights into your workout routine, not just cardio.” That was the first time I’d really heard that. After a while of just cardio, I hit a plateau and didn’t really see any changes in my body, so I decided to start lifting. The biggest motivator for me was having a lifting buddy who was also just starting out, so we could keep each other accountable.
I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention my own workouts that are available here at Make Your Body Work. Every single workout will challenge your entire body and will include elements of cardio, strength, and core conditioning. The uniqueness of these workouts are the “difficulty levels” that provide up to 4 distinct options for every single move. This makes each workout very accessible for newbies, yet challenging for super-fit users.
Put simply, "strength training means using resistance to create work for your muscles," says Hannah Davis, C.S.C.S. and author of Operation Bikini Body. So even if your mind jumps straight to those hardcore machines and massive weights, there are a lot of ways to create this resistance that require minimal equipment (or none at all). Bodyweight workouts can be an incredibly effective way to strength train. Squats and push-ups FTW. You can also use tools like dumbbells, medicine balls, TRX bands, resistance bands, kettlebells, and slider disks, to help get the job done, explains Davis. But if that sounds like gibberish don't worry about it. Keep it simple and focus on equipment-free routines first. No matter what you do, the most important thing is to find something that challenges you, says Davis.
Ann continues, “There is no such thing as perfect posture. Posture is not a static position, posture is dynamic, and we must constantly adapt to the situation at hand. In order to have true, deep central core stability we need a coordinated effort of our breath with our movement. Our breathing muscles, our pelvic floor, our deep abdominals, and our spinal stabilizing muscles must all work together to allow stability of the lumbar spine for movement of the arms and legs.”
Lie on your back on the floor, feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Hold medium-weight dumbbells directly over your shoulders, arms straight. This is the start position. Squeeze your shoulder blades, then bend at the elbows and shoulders, lowering the dumbbells until your upper arms are on the ground. Pause, then press back up to the start. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 sets.
How: Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees bent so that there's a 90-degree angle at the back of your knees. Place your hands on your thighs with your upper body relaxed. On an exhale, slowly roll your chin towards your chest and lift up until your shoulders lift off the floor. Your hands will slide upward toward your knees. Continue lifting up until your shoulders are completely off the floor or your fingertips reach your knees. Pause at the top for 2 seconds, then slowly lower back down to the starting position. That's one repetition. Aim for 20 to 30 reps.

The nutrition section of most weight training guides will try to shove a boilerplate nutrition plan in your face, but that's not how we roll. We want to instill the idea that—metabolically and physiologically—your body is unique. What works for someone else may not work for you. Understanding how your own body works and discovering your dietary needs are important concepts to remember as you form your own nutritional strategy.
Spark People shares short videos for all different types of home workouts, no equipment required. There are several categories – Abs, Cardio, Yoga and Pilates, as well as others that diver into healthy cooking and eating ideas. These workouts are great when you are pinched for time. Choose a 10-12 minute routine and squeeze in some activity where you normally would have skipped it altogether.

Get in pushup position with a light dumbbell outside your left arm. Tighten your core and squeeze your glutes. Doing everything to keep your torso steady, grab the dumbbell with your left hand, lift it an inch off the ground, and move it so it’s now on the outside of your right arm. Return to plank position, then repeat the process with your right arm. Work for 40 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds each set in Week 9. In Week 10, work for 50 seconds, and rest for 10 seconds each set. Do 3 sets.
Place a kettlebell on the floor in front of you, and spread your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Push your hips back and slightly bend your knees, and grab the kettlebell handle with both hands. Start your swing with a “hike pass” to optimally load your hamstrings, insuring the handle of the bell is higher than your knees. Then explosively snap your hips forward, squeezing your glutes and lifting your chest; as you do this, the kettlebell will swing forward. As it falls back down, guide it back between your legs and, in one fluid motion, perform another swing. Do 3 sets.
Great article. I’ve been in the weight room now for almost two months and I love it. Im 5’8 130 and I’m already seeing results. I have biceps! I went from the tiny weights to 35 lbs bicep concentration curls. My husband is my acting trainer. It was very intimidating at first but I actually get the head nods from the guys at the gym so I feel accepted. I think they are just trying to see if I keep coming back. I cant wait to see how far I can go.

While many people advocate eating a low-carb diet for weight loss, it's not always ideal. Weight loss may come easily at first, but chronically low amounts of carbohydrates could have negative downstream effects in the long run. A woman's delicately balanced hormone system can be disrupted by low carb availability, which could bring about unwanted side effects like loss of bone density and chronic sleep deprivation. On a low-carb diet, some women may experience stopped or irregular periods because the body perceives chronically low energy levels as starvation and stress.


Hold a medium-weight kettlebell or dumbbell at your chest, core tight, feet about shoulder-width apart. Keeping your core tight and chest up, lower into a squat, going as deep as is comfortable. Stand back up, but pause when your thighs are parallel with the ground. Hold for one second, then stand all the way up, squeezing your glutes. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets.
In the first few minutes, Leslie Sansone’s programs feel reminiscent of cheesy 1980s workout videos full of ever-present smiles, constant beats and tightly synchronized movements. After completing one of her 45-minute videos and probably working up a sweat, you’ll quickly realize that her walks are so much more than meets the eye. By incorporating interval training (even if not expressly stated) and keeping participants moving for the entirety of the practice, Walk at Home provides a full workout with zero equipment. It’s perfect for people who may be dealing with various physical limitations, or just want to find an alternative form of cardio to the classic options. For beginners, we recommend the shorter, one mile walks; to kick it up a notch, try the weighted videos for added strength training.
You don’t have to lift hundreds of pounds on every exercise like a guy might, but you do have to lift weights that are equally challenging for YOU and continue to push yourself to progress and gradually lift heavier and heavier weights over time. This is progressive overload, and it’s a requirement for any amount of muscle to be built or any amount of progress to be made.
I was fixated on this path, focusing mostly on HIIT workouts, until Instagram started showing me a different kind of inspiration: More and more girls I follow were getting into weightlifting. It is crazy how the strangers you decide to follow on social media have such an impact on your life. Suddenly, the “Strong is the new skinny” mantra that women were spreading started to really speak to me. Shifting the goal from having a thigh gap to being able to challenge your body in new ways just made so much more sense. I also began to realize that my strategy for eating “clean” was just actually putting my body and mind in a dangerous place. 
As for yoga, it is a wonderful form of exercise. But it is not the best way to change your body. I practice yoga for the relaxation benefits of it and the breath control. Everyone in my yoga class asks me how to get cuts in their arms. Yoga is an excellent complement to strength training but it does not change your body the way strength training does.
How: Lie on the floor with your knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat. Hold 5- to 8-pound dumbbells directly over your chest with your palms facing each other. Press your shoulders away from your ears and downward toward your hips to stabilize your core. With a very slight bend at the elbows, open your arms out to the sides until your upper arms touch the floor. Do not fully release the tension in your arms, or allow your wrists to touch the floor. Contract the muscles in your chest to return the dumbbells back to the starting position. That's one repetition. Aim to complete 12 to 15 reps.
This is most-likely due to not being informed, or even misinformed (by the media), about how women should train. What about diet? One of the most common breakfast meals recommended to women is yogurt and a banana. Now there is nothing wrong with eating a yogurt and banana, but where is the protein and essential fatty acids? If you are a woman trying to gain lean muscle, you will need to eat adequate protein and good fats (essential fatty acids). It is time to stop listening to the media and misinformed individuals and time to become educated and get results. In this article, we will go over some basic diet and training information and then direct you to where YOU can get diet and training help and direction!
Moderate-intensity cardio is also important because it helps you build a solid aerobic base, which is critical to performing your best. Moreover, numerous studies has proven that low-to-moderate intensities of cardiovascular exercise 3-5 days per week for 30-50 minutes are sufficient to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

What she does now: Now I spend more time on weights than cardio. Your body actually works harder and longer during and after weightlifting than cardio, so you get a bigger bang for your buck. As a working mom, it’s hard to find time to get to the gym, but I make an effort to lift three to four times a week. I focus on different areas each day — legs, back and biceps, triceps and chest, and shoulders. I try to incorporate a short abs workout into every session, too. I never do the same workout routine twice. I want my body to be surprised, and challenge my muscles in a different way each week. I do a mix of machines, free weights and body weight exercises. In addition to lifting, I still do cardio about two to three times a week. I’ve been teaching Zumba for six years and I love it. I’m able to burn upward of 750 calories a class. I also walk a lot with my family.
LINGUVIC: No. A resistance band is better than no band, and for some exercises it can be very effective, such as adductor and abductor work (your inner thighs), when you need to move your legs laterally. If you were on the road and all you had was a resistance band, that would be fine, but ideally you want to be able to increase the amount of weight you're using as you get stronger and there's no way to do that with one single band. If that's all you have, though, that's better than not using anything at all.
Get on all fours with feet and knees hip-width apart. Place hands shoulder-width apart and spread fingers wide. Pressing firmly through hands, lift knees off mat and straighten legs. Walk hands forward and feet backwards to adjust position. (If you have tight hamstrings, bend knees gently.) Squeeze thighs and imagine pressing them against a flat plane. Press heels down onto mat as much as possible [shown]. Keep neck relaxed and breathe deeply.
I recommend exercises that simulate what you do in real life, exercises standing up using your body weight, for example. These exercises not only use the muscles you're targeting, for instance when doing a lunge you're working your legs, they also challenge your core muscles, which are the muscles of your abdominals and lower back. And they challenge your coordination, which you need in real life.
Keep your body fueled. Proper nutrition is also critical to lean muscle development, and fueling before and after a workout helps maximize the benefits of strength-training exercises, research has found. Before your strength workout, a light snack with carbohydrates and protein in a 4:1 ratio has been shown to be most beneficial. Examples include low-fat yogurt and a banana, or low-fat string cheese with whole-grain crackers. Within 45 minutes after a workout, eat some carbs and protein in a 3:1 ratio – such as stir-fried chicken and vegetables over brown rice.

Keep your body fueled. Proper nutrition is also critical to lean muscle development, and fueling before and after a workout helps maximize the benefits of strength-training exercises, research has found. Before your strength workout, a light snack with carbohydrates and protein in a 4:1 ratio has been shown to be most beneficial. Examples include low-fat yogurt and a banana, or low-fat string cheese with whole-grain crackers. Within 45 minutes after a workout, eat some carbs and protein in a 3:1 ratio – such as stir-fried chicken and vegetables over brown rice.


Slowly, bend the straight leg down into a squat, making sure the knee doesn’t go past your toes on the chair. The leg propped up on the chair or coffee table should also bend and lower. Continue squatting down until the knee portion of the leg on the chair or coffee table almost touches the floor. Hold it for a second. Return back to the starting position by straightening your front leg. This is one repetition. Do this for at least five repetitions.
First, thank you SO MUCH for posting such amazing information! Second, I’m looking to start this 12 week beginner program and just wondering if the weight should be slightly increased between sets, or just week to week? I have previous lifting experience and we would up the weight in between each set, but haven’t lifted consistently in a few years so just curious what you recommend. Thank you!!
×