Forget what you’ve seen on TV or in magazines; the idea that a woman needs to be thin to be healthy and attractive is absurd; it’s not only unrealistic but also plain wrong.
As a woman, understanding this empowers you to look and feel your best no matter what kind if figure you’re sporting. The message is loud and clear: looking like a frail skeleton is out – being healthy and toned is the way to go.
The Importance of Strength Training
Strength training should be the cornerstone of any exercise plan. Muscles that are constantly in motion can be developed quickly and totally transform your life. By incorporating just a few elements into your regular workout, you’ll be able to keep them toned, increase your metabolism, and find yourself with loads of more energy. It’s also nice to know that you’ll be turning heads wherever you go, right?
A quick primer on the three main types of strength training:
1) Weights: Weight training incorporates different types of weights, like stacks or dumbbells – or even water bottles or soup cans; whatever you have on hand – to force muscle contraction, which tones and strengthens muscles.
2) Resistance: Resistance training is considerably the most popular form of strength exercise as it is used in many fitness programs (like Pilates and yoga.) During this, the body works against a constant opposing force, increasing muscle size and maintaining bone density.
3) Isometric: Isometric exercise involves holding a position and/or weight for extended periods of time. By holding a lift at a small angle for a longer period of time, the muscles will contract. This is most beneficial for improved muscle tone.
Stick to a Good, Solid Routine
When you start a strength training routine, you’ll want to stick to it for three days a week. This will allow your body time to rest in between workouts. But just because you’re taking a break from the hard, sweaty stuff doesn’t mean you can’t work in some cardio (jogs, hikes) on your off days. You should always start your routine by stretching so your muscles are prepared for the exercise, and follow it up with at least 10 minutes of cardio to warm up.
Once your muscles feel loose and you’re warmed up, you are ready to begin your strength training. Upon first starting out, you’ll want the lifts or positions to be as light as possible while still feeling a little resistance. You’ll build up your body by doing multiple light-lift repetitions (15-20) and over a period of several weeks decreasing reps and switching to heavier lifts.
Target Your Whole Body
When you’re figuring out what specific exercises to add to your routine, it’s best to think of simple workouts that target each area of your body. Here are some examples:
- Abdominal muscles: oblique twists and crunches
- Biceps: bicep curls
- Triceps: tricep extensions
- Glutes and thighs: lunges, squats
- Calves: calf raises
- Chest: pushups
Strength training is the core of maintaining your body’s overall health, and by practicing all of your exercises safely and listening to your body you can be sure that you will see results and an improved figure. When you stick with your routine you’ll also enjoy increased energy and lower less stress levels, and find that if you have long term weight loss goals you’ll have an easy time maintaining after you’ve reached your ideal weight.
Your weight is important to a degree, but start paying more attention to your overall fitness! When you set goals, rather than just setting weight loss goals, consider other areas as well. Become faster. Lift heavier. Finish workouts quicker. Increase your stamina and endurance. Work on your agility and balance. Clean up your diet and get more sleep. Consider the way you feel and how your clothes fit. True health is about balance in ALL areas. Don’t let a number on the scale be all that defines how fit you are!