Five rep workouts are the way forward. If you want the ultimate bikini body, forget the light weights, high reps nonsense. It's time to lift heavy and lift hard. The high reps for toning myths is one of the biggest fallacies in the fitness industry -- don't be seduced by it. One of the best heavy lifting programs for women is the five rep workout states trainer Cassandra Forsythe in "The New Rules of Lifting for Women." It'll torch fat, build lean muscle and get you that bikini body far quicker than any cross trainer, elliptical machine or 2-pound dumbbells ever could.
Lifting light weights for high reps is no more productive for burning fat and toning than lifting heavy, according to the website ExRx.net. Your results are far more to do with your intensity than you rep range. In her article "30 Rules to Lift Like a Girl & Look Absolutely Awesome," strength coach and power lifter Nia Shanks lists lifting heavy as her No.1 golden rule for women getting into strength training. The weights you lift must be challenging, she writes, don't be afraid to load up a barbell and go to town.
Train three days per week leaving at least one day's rest between workouts. Hit your whole body each time. Full-body workouts are far more effective for fat loss as they'll burn more calories and provide an extra metabolism boost over split workouts, writes strength coach Marc Perry of BuiltLean.com. The beauty of heavy five rep workouts is that you don't need a huge number of exercises either -- just five or six different exercises is enough to leave you exhausted and provide a great calorie burn.
Five rep training lends itself very well to multi-joint compound exercises. Perform two exercises for your lower body -- front squats, back squats or lunges for your quads, and a deadlift variation for your hamstrings and glutes. Hit your chest and shoulders with a bench press, overhead press, dumbbell press or dips, then do chinups, pulldowns or rows for your back and biceps. While you can't spot reduce fat from that all important bikini area -- your stomach -- you can build the muscles with weighted sit ups, hanging leg raises and heavy side bends to make them stand out more and look impressive once you've stripped the fat. If you're not sure of any exercise techniques, ask a trainer at the gym for assistance.
To get that dream bod, you've got to work your socks off, so no resting on your laurels when you hit a new personal best. Each session you should aim to add a little extra weight to the bar or go to the next pair of dumbbells. In session one, start with three sets of five on each exercise, plus two light warm up sets. Bump this up to four sets of five in session two, then five sets of five in session three. In session four, drop back down to three sets of five, but use heavier dumbbells. Before you'll know it you'll have your bikini body.
- "The New Rules of Lifting for Women": Cassandra Forsythe and Lou Schuler: December 2008
- ExRx.net: Fat Loss and Weight Trining Myths
- Nia Shanks: 30 Rules to Lift Like a Girl and Look Absolutely Awesome
- BuiltLean: Full Body Workout Vs. Split Routine: Which Is Better?
- Paul Gilham/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images