Forget your three-hour-long elliptical sessions, going for a steady jog or occasionally turning up to a circuits class, if you want to get lean, toned and sexy, you need to ramp up the intensity of your workouts. Weights often get a bad rap and are sometimes considered too masculine for women to train with, but this is far from the case. Get better results than ever before with an extreme full-body dumbbell workout.
Benefits and Structure
Lifting weights isn't just about building muscle -- it also burns calories, ramps up your metabolism and helps you get lean. You'll burn more calories working your whole body in each session, claims trainer Rachel Cosgrove, author of "The Female Body Breakthrough." Although there are many different types of weights, such as barbells, body-weight or resistance bands, dumbbells are an excellent choice for building strength and burning fat. Perform three full-body dumbbell workouts each week, with at least one day's rest between sessions.
Look around your gym and you'll probably see most woman performing flyes, lateral raises and curls with 2- or 3-pound dumbbells. The trouble with this is that these exercises don't give you the most bang for your buck. Multi-joint compounds are best, according to Cosgrove, meaning you want exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Think dumbbell bench presses, dumbbell rows, overhead presses or pushups with your hands on the dumbbells.
Just like upper-body training, your legs respond best to compound exercises. Dumbbell squats and deadlifts should be your lower-body staples, but you should also add lunges into the mix. Women tend to suffer more with knee ligament injuries, writes corrective exercise specialist Mike Robertson in "Bulletproof Knees," and single leg moves will strengthen the muscles around the joints to prevent you getting injured. Not only that, but lunges, split squats and single-legged deadlifts are extremely tough and will take your workout to the extreme level.
Don't waste your time with light dumbbells and high reps -- the notion that this is better for toning and fat loss is a myth. Pick dumbbells that are challenging to lift for eight to 12 reps. Perform six exercises per session -- three upper body and three lower body. You can either perform each exercise in turn, for three sets each with a minute rest between sets, or try a circuit-style workout by performing two or more exercises back to back with no rest in between. This will raise your heart rate and calorie burn and provide a far greater challenge. Try to use heavier dumbbells or perform more reps each workout.
- Rachel Cosgrove: Strength Training 101 - Getting Started
- Bulletproof Knees; Mike Robertson
- ExRx: Fat Loss & Weight Training Myths
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images