Muscle is denser than fat, meaning it takes up less space on your body. By losing fat and gaining muscle, you can stay the same weight – or even gain some – but actually be slimmer than you were before. Think of weight training as an investment that pays serious dividends down the road. The more muscle you have, the more calories (and fat) your body can burn over time.
Sit with both feet about hip-width apart on the ground, feet flat on the floor. Your shoulder blades should be against a bench, arms wide for stability. Lift your right foot off the ground, raising it as high as you can and bending your knee. This is the start. Now brace your core, and use your left glute to press your entire torso off the ground, driving your torso and left thigh so they’re parallel to the ground. Pause here, then return to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 2 sets per leg.
The right type and amount will be different for every woman (and man, for that matter), but a little bit every day will do wonders. Just ask Dena, who is planning to enter her first bodybuilding competition a year after picking up her first weight. “Not only do I look better than when I first started, but I also feel really confident,” she says. “Strength training opens up your thoughts for more positive thinking.”
It’s for those reasons that I champion these diet and fitness strategies. These are the same techniques that we’re building our foundation around in our flagship course, The Nerd Fitness Academy: we understand that all women are different, which is why we present multiple training options for multiple environments, and diet advice that allows for flexibility based on one’s situation.
Why: "The chest muscles (pectorals) for all women are particularly weak and underdeveloped," says Perkins. "By increasing the mass in this muscle group you are adding a substantial percentage of lean mass towards your overall health. Additionally, the chest muscles are responsible for supporting breast tissue. This move will bring a bit more lift to your chest."
We cannot stress enough how important it is to maintain strict form on all movements. This means stabilizing your body and contracting your abs so you isolate the primary intended muscles. For example, when doing a standing barbell curl, tighten your abs and do not rock or swing the weight. By tightening your abs, you stabilize your body and prevent momentum. This will also help condition your abs and save your lower back from injury.
One of the beautiful things about yoga is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. (Even in the middle of a desert, as this video proves.) But sometimes you need some instruction to get through an entire sequence. That’s where Tara Stiles comes in. The New York City-based yogi teaches a full flow class in this excellent 50-minute video (one of the best YouTube workouts, in our opinion). Her detailed, easy-to-follow instructions make it seem as though you’re working one-on-one with her, and by the end of it, you’ve had a super solid yoga experience.
I highly prefer dumbbells to exercise machines, for the reasons I've said before. In other words, if you sit down on a machine and press something up, you're really getting good at sitting on a machine and pressing something up. If you sit on a ball or stand in a squat position and press up a set of dumbbells, not only are you working your shoulders, you're working your core muscles, which are your abdominals and lower back, and you're challenging your balance and coordination. In real life, we need all of those things.
And regarding when to switch from the beginner routine to the intermediate routine, the short answer is simply whenever the beginner routine stops working. Whether that’s after 4 months or a year… just ride it out for as long you’re progressing. I’ll actually be a writing a post in the next few weeks that will answer this question in more detail. Keep an eye out for it as well.
Take this a couple of times during the rest periods of your workout to monitor your heart rate. If you don’t have a stopwatch handy, think of this as a perceived effort of 6 to 7, on that 1-10 effort scale described above. You should be breathing heavily, find some difficulty in holding a conversation (speaking just a few words or a sentence at a time), and on the verge of becoming uncomfortable.
Powerlifting isn’t the only way to get results. Strength training comes in far more accessible forms as well—many of which do not even require a gym membership and certainly don’t require a personal trainer. Resistance bands, cheap strips of elastic that loop around arms or legs, are one good way to build strength without weights, for instance. A 2017 study showed that when frail women over 60 who were obese worked out with resistance bands for three months, they dropped body fat and increased bone density. Another option that involves even less equipment is to use your own body weight. Sitting up and down in a chair many times builds strength, as does jumping, which uses many of the legs’ major muscles. Even walking can count as strength training, depending on the intensity.
Begin with three weight-training sessions each week, recommends Joe Dowdell, founder and co-owner of the New York City gym Peak Performance. For the greatest calorie burn, aim for total-body workouts that target your arms, abs, legs, and back, and go for moves that will zap several different muscle groups at a time—for example, squats, which call on muscles in both the front and back of your legs, as opposed to leg extensions, which isolate the quads.
What about cardio? Get stronger. That is what matters most when it comes to transforming your body. Extra movement is always a good thing, so you can aim for at least 30 minutes of light to moderate movement every day, or just on non-lifting days. You can do traditional cardio activities if you prefer (i.e., cardio machines), but I recommend doing something fun you actually enjoy.
I just finished with the 12th week and I feel amazing. For the first time (IN MY LIFE) I feel muscle on my arms and can see my legs getting more defined. I lost around an inch on the narrowest part of my waist and lost 4 pounds! I'm not sure what I gained in muscle.... but either way, I'm pretty happy! It's not a "dramatic result" that lots of people notice, but it's enough to make me proud of myself!
Want to look good — and feel even better? Try strength training. Strength training, combined with regular aerobic exercise, can greatly impact your health. You may build strength, improve your muscle tone and boost your self-esteem. But you can also injure yourself if you use poor technique with your exercises. This collection of how-to videos can help you get started with strength training using the best technique.
If you do not have the energy and drive to lift harder and heavier each workout then you will not grow. If you leave protein breakdown levels unchecked and allow muscle breakdown to occur during a workout then you will not grow. Without proper workout nutrition you will not grow and progress and the rate you could with sufficient diet and supplement strategies. Scivation has taken the guess work out of workout nutrition and created a supplement combo that will increase your energy and performance, delay fatigue, and decrease protein breakdown WHILE increasing protein synthesis (the key to muscle growth). It’s time to start taking your workout nutrition (pre and during workout) seriously and supplement with the Scivation Workout Nutrition Stack—Vasocharge + Xtend!
Get in position for a kettlebell swing, except this time, as you hike the weight back, take a small step to the right with your right leg. Shift your left leg as well. As soon as the left leg lands, forcefully drive your hips forward, initiating the kettlebell swing. Repeat the pattern, this time taking a step with your left leg. Alternate reps on both sides. Do 3 sets.
This week you're going to continue with the circuit-style sets; this time you'll perform only 12 reps of each movement, but there are two (tough!) changes: You'll complete a total of 4 full circuits (that's four sets of each exercise for both workouts) and there will be no rest in between each circuit. This week is all about keeping you moving! After you finish the last movement of either workout, you'll immediately return to the first movement and begin a new circuit!