1. Don’t Be afraid of Weightlifting
A primary concern women have when it comes to fitness weight training is “I don’t want to get big or bulky,” but this is a fear NO woman should have! It takes so much time, work, dedication, proper food and training to gain even a pound of muscle that it is impossible for a normal woman to get “too big.” We just don’t have the hormones in our bodies to allow for that.
With the right training, nutrition and guidance, fitness weight training will actually make your muscles hard and lean. The more lean muscle you have, the faster your metabolism, and therefore the faster you will lose body fat. There is no other way to do this other than to start a resistance training program in combination with the proper nutrition and cardiovascular regimen. Without one or the other, your results will not be as quick or superb. With a realistic fitness program, there is no way your muscles are going to grow “too big or bulky,” but rather you will shape up and look fit. I understand women’s concerns, but free yourself from your fear and start weightlifting to achieve your ultimate goals!
2. Change & Variety
Change and variety are the keys to success! Change not only adds variety and keeps things fresh, it also allows your muscles to continually respond! Once your body and muscles get used to a training program, it is easy to hit a plateau and stop responding. That’s why it’s important to consider constant change from weight, reps, sets, rest periods, etc. There is a time and a place for every type of training; it just depends on your goals and your body type. That is what makes things so fun! This is a journey and a learning experience, so change and variety will help keep the interest level high and maximize results.
3. Goal Setting is Key!
It is important to set goals and re-evaluate your goals every four to six weeks to track your success with what worked and what didn’t work. Keep track of your workouts and how your body is responding so you can make the appropriate changes necessary to keep seeing results. Our bodies are machines and work extremely efficiently. Bodies get used to whatever stress we may put on them and adapt quickly. It is essential to constantly be re-evaluating our goals and progress so we can continually allow the body to make improvements.
4. Weight Train the Right Way
I believe men and women should weight train differently. Since the majority of women are looking to tone and sculpt, I find using moderate weight and more plyometric training works well for achieving beautiful curves and shape. I also believe that women should train their glutes and hamstrings a few times a week, since that tends to be the trouble area for most women. It is important to build the muscle density in the glutes and hamstrings to keep them tight and round. Men tend to focus on building, whereas I believe most women are looking to sculpt and tone. There is a totally different way to approach the training styles, and both women and men should consider what their goals are before jumping into a certain style of training.
5. Keep Things Fun!
Sometimes following the same regimented program can get monotonous and boring. Those are the times you want to quit. When times get tough, remember that if it was easy, everyone would do it. During the times you feel less motivated, follow your heart and do something fun. Pick a fun class to get you pumped back up and re-motivated. Try taking a class such as spin, boot camp, aerobics, hip hop, kickboxing or even yoga. Incorporating a fun class to your weekly program adds spice and keeps things fun and exciting. Not only do they keep you on track and focused, but they also add a great bit of variety to keep your body continually stimulating different muscles and constantly guessing. You can also keep things fresh and exciting by incorporating fitness into your daily life. Try riding a bike to work, hiking outdoors, taking your dog on a walk, playing tennis with your family, doing yard work with your kids, scheduling for a family run, etc. There are so many ways to keep variety in your program to keep things fresh, exciting and most importantly, FUN!
Cardio is an essential component, but not the only component! Combine both weight training and a reasonable cardiovascular program to obtain the results you are looking for! Lifting weights does not equate to mass and bulkiness, therefore women should not focus their training on cardiovascular training. Building muscle is going to keep your muscle bellies hard and full rather than soft and flat. Doing endless amounts of cardio is only going to break down muscle tissue and therefore will cause a decrease in metabolism, over time, from the lack of muscle. The goal is to add muscle to keep your metabolism high and also to keep you round, full and curvy. The goal should be to increase lean muscle tissue and supplement cardio to burn the excess body fat to maintain a lean physique. Focus on your weight training and diet and use cardio as a secondary source of exercise to stay in good cardiovascular shape and to burn that excess bit of fat, but do not use cardio as a sole means of working out! Don’t be afraid to lift weights! Give it a try for a few weeks and see for yourself how your body responds!
7. Be Realistic!
Do not focus on the media for the meaning of “in-shape”! Be aware that what the media considers attractive is NOT realistic, and I believe their portrayal of what women “should look like” is absolutely criminal. It’s a shame that young viewers have this to go by when they are growing and learning about their own bodies and self-images. The majority of images seen in the media are women who are completely unhealthy and as I like to call it “skinny fat.” Yes they may be fitting in to a ridiculously small size pant, but their body fat is extremely high and if you were to touch them they feel like nothing but Jell-o. Young viewers are seeing this look and thinking that is what is the norm and what they should look like, but it is much more attractive to be fit and healthy. Having curves and muscle tone is sexy and attractive. It is a shame that the media is bombarding woman’s heads with such unrealistic and unobtainable images of what is fit! It is important to be truthful with yourself about what is obtainable, maintainable, realistic and healthy for everyday living!
8. Good Company
Surround yourself with people who are supportive and keep pushing you to achieve your goals. Training, along with being very physical, is extremely mental, in my opinion, more mental than physical. You need to have the proper support group that will keep you on your toes, pat you on the back when you did something amazing— those who will pick you up when you may have fallen. Following a fitness program is a journey and the journey is not possible without the support and love from others. It is essential to find a network of like-minded fitness enthusiasts who have similar fitness goals— those who will be there to help motivate and inspire you to always strive to push harder and be your absolute best!
9. Be Prepared
Always be prepared for days when you can’t make it to the gym or the rain is pouring and you don’t feel like leaving the house. Keep an emergency fitness bag handy for those unexpected days. I suggest a light pair of dumbbells such as #8 weights, a yoga mat, resistance bands and some good music or your favorite workout video. With a few key items and a little preparation, you can still get a great workout.
10. Time & HIIT!
It is important to be realistic with the amount of time you have to work out every day. Most people are crunched for time, so the best bet is to get a killer weight-training workout in combination with cardiovascular training to utilize your time wisely. Get the most out of your workouts with HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) to maximize your workouts. Jump on a machine in between isolated exercises or if you do not have a machine you can incorporate active rest periods such as jump rope, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, flutter kicks, plyometric exercises or anything that will keep your heart rate up. Try utilizing interval training to maximize your cardiovascular time or adding in a few sprints or jogs into your workouts. Get your heart rate up, utilize those weights— GET IN AND GET OUT!