If you haven't already heard, a cardio-only fitness routine isn't the best for losing weight and sculpting muscles. Strength training is a must, and here are five tips to get the most out of those weight-building sessions.
Twice Isn't Enough
If you're hitting the weights once or twice a week, it's definitely better than nothing, but if you really want to see results, certified personal trainer Heather Neff says, "Do your strength training three to four days per week and make sure you're not doing it back to back especially if you're doing a full-body routine — always give yourself a day in between training for the muscles to recover and grow." If you do cardio on the same days, do your strength training first, or you can alternate and do cardio on the days in between your strength-training workouts.
There's More to Life Than Bodyweight Moves
While doing moves like squats, lunges, and plank variations using your own bodyweight is effective, adding weights to those basic moves will make your muscles work harder, which means getting stronger in less time. Add dumbbells, use resistance bands, or hold a kettlebell and you'll instantly feel your muscles firing up with just a few reps.
Don't Just Target Trouble Zones
Maybe you're itching to get a six-pack or a lifted bum, but working one area will cause muscle imbalances, which can lead to injury. Also, the more muscle mass you create overall, the more calories you'll burn, which decreases your total body-fat percentage to reveal your sculpted muscles. Work your legs, butt, abs, back, and arms equally, and try these multitasking moves that work more than one part of the body at once.
Don't Fear Heavy Weights
Lifting heavier not only helps you lose weight faster, but it'll also be the most effective at reshaping your body. Don't just go from deadlifting 20 pounds to 60 pounds! Gradually increase the weight to prevent injury. And don't worry about bulking up. If you go for heavier dumbbells or even if you start lifting a barbell with plates, you won't instantly turn into a female version of the Incredible Hulk.
Variety Is a Must!
Don't just be married to the dumbbells or the machines. Use a variety of equipment to challenge your muscles in different ways, including resistance bands, medicine balls, barbells, a TRX, and a few sets of dumbbells from light to heavy. Definitely don't skip out on the kettlebells — a study by the American Council on Exercise found that the average person burns 400 calories in 20 minutes when doing kettlebell exercises. Mix up the exercises you do from day to day, the order you do them, and the speed.
Here's a list of strength-training workouts to keep your muscles guessing!
- 20-Minute Workout With Weights by Autumn Calabrese
- 300-Calorie-Burning Video Workout
- 30-Minute Workout by Lacey Stone
- 20-Minute Kettlebell Workout by Yumi Lee
- Strong, Toned, and Fit Full-Body 30-Minute Workout