First, let me start by saying you are beautiful just as you are!
I will also say, that being happy with where you are or how you look now does not mean that you can’t also work to improve on certain aspects of your physique (by training or dieting) or mind. It also doesn’t mean that you always have to be moving towards something or working on something. Maintaining what you have is a chore in itself, and how much effort or thought do we really want to be spending on our bodies?
I mean, yes, we want to keep our bodies healthy and strong, but it shouldn’t be taking up all of our brain space. We can implement a few training strategies that will get us moving in the right direction. Really, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. There is sooooo much info in “the Googler” that can confuse us. In my experience of over 25 years of exercise science and research, the basics still hold true.
So, with that in mind, let’s move to the basics of strength training. You don’t need any fancy new equipment sold via infomercial at 1:00 in the morning. You don’t need any “fat burning” supplements. You just need a few strength training rules that apply to numerous (probably all) physique goals.
1) Lift Heavy! But how heavy is heavy? A general rule is that the last 2 reps should be very challenging. So, if you are told to do 10 bicep curls, #9 and #10 should be VERY hard. If they aren’t that hard, then you should increase the weight that you are using. Now, I can tell you that nearly all women aren’t lifting heavy enough. Women rely too much on cardio, and research shows that cardio or aerobic exercise DOES NOT account for any meaningful changes in body mass. I’m telling you, strength training is the only way that you will change the shape and composition of your body. So, grab those weights and really challenge yourself. Seriously, a few sets of heavy dumbbells and AT HOME workouts can even accomplish significant body changes, believe me, I know, I did it. So, even if you are afraid to go to a big gym, you can absolutely achieve the physique you want at home.
2) Lift smart! Now that we know we need to challenge ourselves more with the weight, we also need to know that we need to be smart about it. Just throwing weight around haphazardly and not keeping form in mind could really hurt, literally. So, get the help you need on correct form. Understand which muscles you should be working with each movement you are performing. Make a mental connection to those muscles and ensure you feel the movement where it is intended to be felt. If not, make slight modifications, or just try entirely different moves if you need to. The good and bad of the internet is that there is a ton of information out there.
3) Lift three times per week! Actually, you could probably get away with even 2 days per week. A good week would be 30-60 minutes 3 times per week for strength training sessions. Any more than an hour, and honestly I lose interest. But I can definitely get a great workout in 20-30 minutes. My typical routine is one day focused on upper body moves, one day focused on lower body moves and one day with upper and lower body. No workout is longer than an hour and I feel strong and just enough fatigue when I’m done. Along with the strength training, I throw in 2 days of some type of cardio, like HIIT or hiking or sprinting. I keep the HIIT and sprints to less than 30 minutes, but the hikes take what they take, usually about an hour. So, is three times per week too much to ask? Once you start seeing results, trust me, you will want to do it more, and that is fine. But just don’t over do it.
4) BONUS TIP – Mix it up! Two reasons to mix it up– avoid boredom, and avoid adaptation. I like to change up my routine every 3-4 weeks, just to keep it interesting and to keep it challenging. Not only does the mind get bored, but the body gets bored too. And then your body stops changing or even backslides! So, mix it up to keep your body guessing. Variety is your friend.
There are a lot more tips and strategies we could cover here, but they over-complicate the process and make it less fun.
And that is the not point, right?? The point is to be capable, independent and strong, all while enjoying the process.