Let's talk a little bit about the importance of lifting heavy weights. Many women (my old self included!) are afraid of the weight room due to concerns around getting "bulky" or "big." Women tend to report that they would like to "tone" their muscles and spend hours doing cardio and lifting pink weights.
Let's get the record straight: There is no such thing as "toning muscles." There is such thing as "building lean muscle," but that cannot happen unless heavy enough weights are involved and muscles are fueled properly. Lifting and building lean muscle have dozens of benefits for women. These benefits include: more defined muscles, stronger bones, injury prevention AND increased calorie burn and fat loss.
Studies show that women that lift weights regularly burn more calories both during and after their workout. Plus, each pound of lean muscle burns 35 to 50 more calories per hour than pound of fat. Too much cardio and you'll end up burning fat and some muscle -- not exactly what we're looking for!
Women just simply do not produce enough testosterone to get big and bulky like men. So, when you see women bodybuilders that are really big, remember that those women lift full time, eat a TON and potentially use testosterone supplements (read: steroids). So, give it a try! Lifting really revolutionized my fitness ability, not to mention makes me feel powerful, strong and awesome after every workout.
So with that said, here's the full-body workout that I did today. This workout is based on the NASM model of "Muscular Endurance/Stabilization." Stability is the basis of all exercise modalities. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, it is the "body's ability to maintain postural equilibrium and support joints during movement."
This workout consists of supersets of stability exercises and strength exercises, challenging the same muscle group. Supersets are two exercises completed back to back, with no rest between. While completing this workout, engage your core to generate increased stability.
Beginners: Choose a weight that allows you to complete 12 to 15 reps for two to three sets
Intermediate: Choose a weight that allows you to complete 10 to 12 reps for three to four sets
Advanced: Choose a weight that allows you to complete eight to 10 reps for three to four sets
As always, warm up and cool down for five minutes on cardio machine of choice and rest one complete minute between sets.
Single leg squat and row
In-in-out-out (30 seconds, I used cones instead of a ladder)
Flat bench flies
Push-up on BOSU
Tricep dip with elevated feet
Pop squat on step (30s, as fast as you can)
Photo credit: The Weighting Room.