But I don't want to be bulky...
We have all seen it, the rows of ladies clutching their towels for 45 minutes on the treadmill while the free weight area has less estrogen than army boot camp. It is a common misconception, which needs to die, that lifting weights will make you bulky and 'too big'. The laws of both biology and physics do not allow that. For one, because for most ladies testosterone, a hormone responsible for muscle synthesis, is low in their bodies, therefore an excess looking frame is unlikely. Secondly, muscles require food, saying training will make you bulky is as ridiculous as saying running will make you bulky, both exercises are inherently calorie burning, so if calorie intake is held constant or at a deficit there is little concern of bulkiness.
Fine, it won't make me bulky but why should I do it ?
I am very glad you asked ! How does, increased metabolism, better mood, less back pain, increased energy and a toned physique sound ? More muscle and increased activity means you can eat more for your Sunday brunch. Progressing consistently makes you feel good day to day as your physique improves. No more achy tired back thanks to more strength !!
Sounds good, where do I sign up !
There is only one concept you need to understand in strength training, that is progressive overload. Imagine strength training like a vaccine, your body likes to be lazy, and I am sure you know that, if it is not subjected to stimulus it will either plateau or stagnate. By introducing a stimulus that is in excess of the usual loading, which is usually being in shrimp position at work, your body is demanded to adapt to the new load, just as how getting exposed to a vaccine gets you sick but when you recover you are immune to what may actually kill you.
Picking a Baseline:
Because most of us work desk jobs and hunch over a monitor for 16 hours a day our baseline is low...far lower than it should be. Determining this baseline takes some work. The human body, man or woman, should be able to squat, push, pull, hinge and twist, these are basic movements that will hit literally every single muscle in your body. With your bodyweight perform the following exercises to have a proxy for your baseline: Squat, push up, good morning and Russian twists. Perform these exercises to failure and record the amount of reps that you did. Your baseline for these exercises will be 60% of the number of reps performed to failure, and you will progress first daily then weekly on these exercises.
Structuring Your Training:
Going off the movements we have listed above, planning of a predictable stream of progress is simple.
There is nothing in the world like the squat for hammering your legs, hips but most importantly linking a loaded upper body with the lower body that does the actual lifting, therefore training your core to the max.
Perform 5 sets of your baseline repetitions for the first week
Every subsequent week, add a repetition to each set until you hit 20 reps
After which you can choose to load either with weights or resistance bands, approximately 5 pounds each time.
Pushups are a staple in almost every routine for a reason, they simply work. Triceps, chest and shoulders are all covered by this wonder exercise that deserves a place in your routine.
Perform 5 sets of your baseline and add a rep until you reach 20 comfortable reps per set.
You can easily add resistance through Adelyn Active bands to increase the difficulty from then on.
Alternatively, if you have access to weights, flip around and perform bench presses that work the same muscles in a similar way.
Do this exercise and forget back pain, seriously. Your back pain is due in large part to its lack of strength, this takes care of that and adds core rigidity. And to top it off it gives you a booty that will rival Nicki Minaj's
First with only your bodyweight, hinge at your hip until you reach the end of hamstring flexibility.
Perform 3 sets of your baseline until you reach 15 reps comfortable.
Once again add resistance 5 pounds at a time until you reach your goal physique.
Rows are a great way to target your biceps and your upper back, which is often very weak due to poor posture.
Simply step onto a resistance band, lean forward while keeping your back tight and pull the ends towards your body until your palms touch your ribs, hold for a second and lower the band down with control.
Perform 5 sets of your baseline and progress a rep each weak until you reach 20 reps comfortably, and switch to a heavier band subsequently.
Friday: Russian Twists & Cardio
Unlike the crunch or sit up the Russian Twist works all functions of the core including rotation which targets the oblique giving you the v taper.
For this exercise there is not really a need to add weight in the near term, perform 3 reps of your baseline and continue adding reps until you hit failure.
Only after you reach a plateau, then you have to introduce resistance.
This should be paired with a small amount of steady state cardio, not so much for the calorie burn but rather the recovery benefits of greater blood flow, making you less sore and more able to enjoy the weekend.
Walk at a brisk pace on the treadmill at around 70% of your maximum heart rate for 30 minutes.
A Final Word:
Soon you will not need convincing, progressing from week to week is probably the most motivating thing you will ever experience. Progress makes the fitness journey fun and fun makes for a good physique and a good mood. Which is arguably the whole point of our fitness journey, to feel better and be our best selves !!