eight loss boils down to a simple equation: Expend more calories than you take in. With that, eating well and doing cardio is your fast track to success. But when it comes to shaping your body, there’s a totally different way to get results – strength training.
“The number on the scale is where you want it, but maybe your butt is still saggy or your tummy not quite taut. Less cardio and more lifting will fix that,” says Holly Perkins, a US-based strength and conditioning specialist and founder of www.womensstrengthnation. com, which inspires women to get into the weight room.
So why do less cardio? For one thing, it is catabolic. Too much of it increases production of the stress hormone cortisol. Over time, it slows your metabolism and hinders how your body manages carbs by shuttling them around to be stored as fat. Also, cardio doesn’t have much effect on muscles.
Also, when you run, you do engage your butt and legs, but it’s not enough to break down the tissue prompting your muscles to become stronger and firmer like weighted squats can. These pointers will get you going in the right direction.
NEVER BE AFRAID OF MUSCLE
You will not bulk up. Holly says, “It’s hormonally impossible.” Women don’t have as much muscle-building testosterone as men do. As a general rule, Holly recommends you lift weights that are heavy enough to allow you to do 12 to 15 perfect reps of any move, but no more.
“The weights you’ll be capable of lifting will never trigger big muscle growth,” she says. What it will do is make your muscles more metabolically active, which helps you burn more calories.
“This training also causes muscle fibres to swell, so they look toned,” says Holly. Dense muscle is tighter than fat, which is why your weight should stay the same even though you may drop a full size. There are two ways to sculpt: You can do simple, isolated moves targeting one muscle or muscle group at a time – like a biceps curl or leg extension – or you can do bigger, compound movements with different multiple groups at once – like a lunge with a biceps curl or deadlift.
“The long-term goal is to focus on the latter for faster results,” says Holly. “When I take clients from simple to compound movements, I see a quick drop in body fat and better muscle shape.”