Women often seem to fall into this paradoxical system of working out where cardio is queen and lifting baby weights seems excessive. Women are highly susceptible to the latest fads such as dance classes as a workout, full body pump that promises to change your life in 60 minutes and heated yoga rooms and ultimately find themselves torn between what they read on some blog, and society's conflicting expectations of what a woman should look like. Don't get me wrong, cardio is important, and I too enjoy a good yoga class. However, it's no wonder many women find themselves doing cardio until they are too thin and wind up looking worse than when they began. Sometimes something much worse happens... A cruel joke that the workout gods play known as “skinny fat," an enigmatic condition where someone appears thin in clothes, but actually has a higher body fat percentage than they did before they started to exercise because they lost muscle instead of body fat.
Bodies, at least the most aesthetically pleasing ones, are a combination of convex and concave curves instead of straight lines. Therefore, you want to build muscle to build or accentuate convex curves. If you're already blessed with convex curves, you might want to create concave curves by losing fat. You will accomplish either or both by lifting weights. Although plenty of women have accepted this wonderful reality, there are still practices that need to be left by the waste side and others that need to be fine-tuned to obtain those bodies that are desired.
The fear of looking like a man
News flash! Lifting heavy weight does not make you look like a man; as a matter of fact, women with the best bodies often train like a man. You must evolve beyond using baby weight; these are the cute single digit weights that are often rubber-coated and found in pretty colors. Leave these weights for the children and pick up heavier weights. Women, you are not delicate flowers, and you will not break. Your muscles won't grow, and you will not get curvy if you're pressing, squatting, or curling with baby weights. With that being said, unless you have an unusual amount of testosterone levels or you’re on steroids, you will not get the bulky man look. Neither will your muscles grow beyond your aesthetic ideal unless you start feeding them a lot more. Muscles don't grow out of thin air; you've got to supply them with protein and carbs.
There is no pretty in the gym
When you're lifting weights, you will be able to maintain the same facial expression as when you're getting a mani-pedi; too many women just don't get down and dirty. Unfortunately, your hair will get messed up, you will sweat, and the only glow you will have will come from increased blood flow and not your fifty-dollar bronzer.
Building muscle requires some discomfort; it requires some pain. You might be able to look all pretty and composed for the first few reps, even while using an appropriately heavyweight, but you're ultimately going to have to make an ugly face on the last few highly-productive "money reps” where you coerce muscle into growing. No ugly face equals no curvy muscle and no increased strength. If you are worried about people seeing you look ugly, then wear a hat.
Ab’s Ab’s & more Ab’s
Guess what… everyone has a six-pack; you just have to whittle away enough fat for it to show. Granted, you may want to build the abdominals for them to be more pronounced but stop thinking that you need to dedicate half your workout or more to working abs.
Three or four hard sets of 15 to 20 – using resistance or using more challenging angles as necessary – a few times a week is all you need. Spend the rest of the time building overall muscle and doing activities that burn fat in general.
Abs for women is the one loophole to the heavyweight rule. The waist is comprised of muscles and muscles respond to heavy weights by getting bigger. Therefore, stick with weight or resistance that allows you to do roughly 15 to 20 reps. Most importantly, don't use weights while working your "side muscles," known as the obliques. The obliques will grow like any other muscle when you begin to throw weight into the mix, which will ultimately cause your waist to get bigger.
Don’t become a Cardio Queen
How often do you see a marathon runner or even an accomplished jogger with a great looking body? Not very often. They typically have a body with very few curves or are plagued with the skinny-fat condition. Let's just accept the scientific fact that the body would generally, during caloric deficits, sacrifice muscle over fat, and what is excessive endurance exercise but an artificially induced caloric deficit?
Regardless, women especially are saddled with the misnomer that the more aerobic exercise they do, the better they'll look. Remember, you need muscle to create or further build your curves, and excessive aerobic exercise is death to muscle. There are far more effective ways to burn fat. For example, going for a brisk walk first thing in the morning is incredibly effective, and it saves muscle. Similarly, brief bouts of high-intensity exercise (HIIT) or sprinting bicycling and weight training build muscle and burn fat simultaneously.
Monogamy is the way of life for many, and although it may have its advantages in relationships, it is the death of sculpting your body. Whether it's from a lack of imagination or a misguided belief that "exercise is exercise" or that "there's only one way to lift a weight," doing the same routine year-in and year-out is bad news. The body adapts to workouts whether they are weight training workouts or aerobic workouts. Your neurological system can become so accustomed to your regimen that it costs little in calories or effort to complete the workout. You need to cycle your workouts every four to six weeks for them to remain effective.
The opposite of the monogamist is the whore. The workout whore is one who tries out a workout a few days, and then tries something else; this is not an effective regimen either. These type of workouts are often chaotic void structure and ultimately produce little to no results. Find a logical, progressive workout that addresses your needs and goals, one that builds muscle and burns fat. Although this may seem crazy; if you design your workout and see results in 4-6 weeks then and only then should you switch it up. Doing this will create the curves that you are looking for.