Ladies, let me start by saying that using weights will NOT make you bulky. This is one of the biggest misconceptions that I hear among women. Did you know that it is scientifically proven that if you add strength training to your workouts 2x a week, you will burn more calories during your workout? Which in return, helps you lose weight. So don’t stick with just the cardio, because you won’t achieve the sculpted arms and legs without adding some weights!
If you keep the weights low and reps high, you will tone your body quicker than you think! (Triceps especially!) At the end of the day, muscle weighs more than fat. The more you add muscle, the more you are replacing fat with muscle. Which brings up another point:
I rarely look at the scale. Your clothes will be the biggest indicator for weight loss. I only look at the scale to see progress after my clothes fit differently (when weight loss is the goal).
I will discuss some basic ways to introduce strength training to your workout. The great thing about strength training is that there are various ways to challenge yourself, beginner or advanced. In my posts below I will incorporate links to workouts you can check out! They will be highlighted in red.
Weights you use may vary based on your level of fitness and strength. Please note I have done cardio and strength training for 9 years. I began when I trained for track and field as a sprinter in high school. An example of weight/exercises I use to stay toned and not get bulky:
- Arm Toning: I use 3-5 lb dumbells for these type of workouts. (More reps, less weight)
- Lunge work: I use 10 lbs in each hand and will walk back and forth the entire length of the gym. Check out this video which requires no weights some great lunge workouts!
- For areas you can use more strength, such as the leg press: I will do 2 sets of 10 at 105 lbs. If you haven’t done a leg press before, start with 30-40 lbs and work your way up. Remember, you are doing less reps at higher weight in this category.
Push Ups: You CAN do this!
- Push ups, push ups, push ups! This is an incredible full body workout. If you have difficulty, start with just one regular push up which includes starting on the floor, keeping a flat structured body, hands at shoulder distance in front of you, and evenly lifting yourself off the floor. Once lifted, try to bring yourself down where your body is a few inches away from the mat, and back up again. Just remember that technique is most important. Once your body is able to do more than one, keep a nice, steady pace. If you rush through them, you won’t challenge your body thoroughly. This video demonstrates a perfect push up!
Britt tip: For added difficulty once you master the push up, put your hands closer to one another to work the tricep area more intensely. For an advanced move, add a medicine ball underneath one hand and complete the push up. The stabilization effort is an added challenge.
- Stretch, stretch, stretch! This is something I am trying to be better at. It’s easy to want to call it a day after a few toe touch stretches, but take the time to do it. I have been utilizing yoga stretching into my routine and my legs have been less tight after an evening of strength training. This is so important!
Before and After Workout Prep:
Last but not least, stay hydrated and keep up with the healthy eating! If you think water is ‘boring’, add a crystal light packet for some added taste. If you are about to enter a hard workout with cardio and weights, try to incorporate a high protein snack an hour and a half before your workout. (Whole wheat toast with peanut butter and banana slices, or handful of almonds and some greek yogurt). After your workout is when your body needs to absorb nutrient dense dishes. Think chicken and veggies, or salmon and a sweet potato!
Food and nutrition is vital for your body to show off all your hard work in the gym. Start slow by changing one habit at a time! This is definitely an area that I am working on (sometimes you just love a small piece of chocolate!)
I hope this has been helpful! Cheers to healthy living and good habits!
Until next time,
AHA Journal to read more on resistance training: