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It’s been awhile since I’ve debunked myths about health and fitness, so I’d like to devote this post to a concept every woman should be very familiar with.
The idea is simply this: the most effective way to reach your fitness goals is through strength training, NOT steady state cardio.
Many women believe the myth that to get the perfect body, they need to spend hours on a treadmill, and maybe do a few dozen reps with some light dumbbells to “tone” their muscles. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It just doesn’t work if your goal is to build a beautiful, healthy body.
*Now to be fair to all my running friends – running at a steady state for hours is a great way to spend your time. I’m definitely not saying it’s a bad thing. I myself like going for long runs from time to time. My point is that if your goal is to burn fat, build muscle, and build the best body possible, steady state cardio alone isn’t going to get you there.
It’s been proven time and time again. No matter what your goals are, strength training is the best way reach your potential in the shortest amount of time. If that doesn’t make sense to you please feel free to comment below or send me an email and I will be happy to explain it to you further 🙂
Now, moving on from the basic idea, let’s talk about how this actually works in every day life. There are hundreds of different strength training programs out there, and each of them bring something unique to the table. How can you know which program is right for you?
It’s actually pretty simple, let me break it down for you.
There are three basic types of strength training, and I firmly believe a workout program is never truly complete without elements of all three.
I like to think of it this way: the 3 types of strength training appeal to the Ninja, Beast, and Dancer in all of us.
The Ninja has complete control over her own bodyweight, moving her body through space with serious strength and precision. This type of training is usually referred to as calisthenics, and includes basic exercises such as the pushup, pullup, and squat, as well as more advanced stunt-like moves such as the muscle up and human flag. It builds a great foundation of strength, burns fat, and increases flexibility.
The Beast overpowers heavy objects through weightlifting and explosive movements, which torches fat, builds strong, beautiful muscles, and increases bone density (a must for women – who are much more prone to osteoporosis than men). I cannot overstate how good lifting heavy weights is for your body and mind. There is no greater feeling than achieving a new personal best, watching the inches shrink away without ever stepping on a scale, and overcoming weights you never thought you would touch.
The Dancer in all of us craves fluidity – the strength and grace to position your body in a beautiful way, by strengthening all the tiny stabilizing muscles in your body that support your joints and your back. This type of workout usually consists of barre and Pilates exercises. Never assume these workouts are easy just because they involve small movements and no weight. Back when I was doing CrossFit and lifting over 250 lbs. on a regular basis I couldn’t make it through a 15 minute barre workout because it targets your muscles in a totally different (and very crucial!) way. I’ve been doing Ballet Beautiful programming for a little over a week now and already my back has never felt better – my flexibility is much improved, and my whole body just feels much more open, relaxed, and stable. There’s a reason these types of exercises are often used in a rehab setting – they are just plain good for you!
When you combine all three types of strength training – the Ninja, the Beast, and the Dancer – you become a very well rounded, strong, healthy person who can accomplish virtually anything.
To narrow things down even further, ask yourself, “What do I most want to change about my body?” Do you need to lose fat? Build muscle? Relieve joint and back problems? Whatever your goal, there are 3 steps to achieving it.
- Choose a type of strength training.
- Create your ideal format.
- Follow the plan.
We’ve covered the types of strength training, now let’s talk about the ideal format for reaching your goals. Trust me, that sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is. It works like this:
Fewer reps + heavy weight + carbs and protein = strength and muscle building.
Intense intervals + difficult weight and/or plyo calisthenics + protein and veggies = increased fat burning.
High reps of pilates/barre exercises + basic healthy eating = stable, happy joints, better posture and core strength.
For example, a short strength and muscle building workout might look something like this:
5 sets of 5 reps of the following exercises
- Deadlift (150 lbs.)
- Squat (130 lbs.)
- Push Press (100 lbs.)
A sample fat burning routine would roughly look like this:
10 rounds –
Squat jumps (40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest)
Plank jacks (40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest)
Walking lunges (40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest, carrying 50 lbs.)
Weighted Squats (40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest, holding 50 lbs.)
And the video below is a great pilates/barre routine:
Ideally, you would do workouts that especially target your goals 4-6 times per week, along with a couple of workouts from the other types a couple times per week. For me personally, that means I do Dancer workouts for 5-6 hours per week, and Ninja and Beast workouts for about 2 hours per week.
If you’re interested in some specific programs to try, here are some of my recommendations.
For the Ninja:
For the Beast:
For the Dancer: