"I found Cathe Friedrich on FitTV about seven years ago. I bought her Strong & Sweaty DVDs and fell in love with her workouts. Cathe inspires me because she is in her fifties, but is as fit as ever. Even though I'm a lot younger than her, I still find her workouts to be amazing—and probably the most challenging. Her newer workouts are my current favorites because they are short and intense, utilizing high-intensity interval training and heavy weights. I lost my baby weight (I have three kids), and I've put on 10 pounds of muscle. My kids love that I can do pullups at the playground with them." —Sierra Schwartz, Buffalo, MN
While your total caloric intake is the most important diet factor, the ratio of protein to carbs to fat can dictate whether the weight you gain/lose is muscle or fat. A diet that contains 80% of calories from carbs, 10% from protein, and 10% from fat will produce different results than a diet containing 40% of calories from carbs, 40% from protein, and 20% from fat.
Your cardio will come in a couple different forms. On each day you train with weights, you'll do 20 minutes of high-intensity intervals. Choose an interval scheme that's challenging, but not impossible. Thirty seconds of all-out work, followed by 1 minute of recovery is usually a good place to start. One day per week, you'll do 30-45 minutes of low-intensity cardio. On these days, you can jump on your favorite cardio machine for some extra fat-burning.
How should I warm up for each exercise? Begin with a weight (or variation for bodyweight exercises) that allows you to perform 10 easy reps. Then add a little weight and perform 5-8 reps. You can perform a third set of 3-5 reps, with a heavier weight, if needed. Use the warm-up sets to find the proper weight/variation to use for the work sets. The goal of the warm-up sets is to hone proper technique and prepare you for the main workout.
Remember Billy Blanks, the guy behind the Tae Bo craze? Now his son, Billy Blanks, Jr. is getting in on the family business. Along with his wife, Sharon Catherine Blanks, Billy Jr. will help you learn various types of dance styles in this fun workout DVD. The duo takes you through six 5-minute cardio routines that are inspired by dance styles from all over the world: hip-hop, Bollywood, African, disco, and country. It's designed for the whole family, so the kids can join in too!
Lie with your belly and chest on an incline bench set to a 40-degree incline, holding dumbbells in both hands, arms hanging naturally. Squeeze your shoulder blades, then pull the dumbbells up toward your lower chest, aiming to drive your elbows as high as possible. Continue to hold the left dumbbell in this position as you lower the right dumbbell back to the start slowly. Then slowly lower the left dumbbell back to the start. Do another rep, this time lowering the left dumbbell back to the start first. Do 3 sets.
I enjoy these workouts. They're straightforward and good for beginners, not too complex or exhausting. My only complaint is that the 10 minute lower body workout is done without holding weights. After she says bigger muscles should use heavier weights, she doesn't show any weights with the legs, which are pretty big muscles. Bodyweight is fine, but this isn't advertised as a bodyweight workout. I think a beginner video should show basic squats and lunges with weights. Other than that, it's great.
For general fitness, muscle toning and improved health:Begin with lighter resistance and aim for 1-2 sets of 8-15 repetitions of each exercise, with rest periods of 30-90 seconds between sets. That means you’ll do 8 dumbbell curls, rest, then do 8 again. Each time you do this, you’ll build a little more strength, and eventually you’ll be able to complete 15 curls using the same weight. The next time you work out, use the a 5% heavier dumbbell, and start at 8 repetitions again.
You're right about one thing, though: training with weights will increase your lean muscle mass. That's a good thing! The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn. The more calories you burn, the leaner you'll get. Increased muscle mass will also add shape to your arms, take inches from your tummy, and even add some roundness to your booty! When women's magazines talk about "tone," they're really talking about strong muscles.
But when I started college, I had to give up gymnastics to focus on my studies. That's when I quickly learned you can’t eat the same way when you’re training eight hours per week as you can if you’re doing almost no physical activity. Long story short: I gained roughly 20 pounds and just felt horrible in my own skin. So after the stress of getting into university was behind me, I decided it was time to “get in shape" (an expression I now hate, but more on that later).
Second . . . the amount of time and effort that is actually required to gain muscle is something women likely don’t think about much. Maybe the cardio addicts hear “lift heavy things” and immediately have a negative reaction based on 30 or so years of hype about how women should workout. I have always hung out with guys who lift and have heard the celebratory cheers for each and every gain made, so I went into the whole lifting thing with my eyes wide open. Kudos for pointing this out!
LINGUVIC: It is pretty impossible to look like Arnold. Unfortunately, that fear holds a lot of women back from improving their bodies. The program in Lean, Long & Strong offers exercises you can do at home to get you stronger and bring out the definition in your body. Women don't have the testosterone to get big muscles. Even if they lifted heavy weights, it's pretty hard to look like Arnold. Actually, it's pretty hard for most guys to look like Arnold.
Few would argue that some form of resistance training should not be part of a complete exercise program; however, the bulk of literature on the cardio-protective effects of aerobic exercise has continued to make this form of exercise preeminent and the central focus of many physical activity guidelines in Canada, the United States, and many other countries.