Every woman is after the holy grail of gym workouts – a routine that burns fat faster than any other, builds lean, feminine muscle and sends fitness levels through the roof. Unfortunately, there’s no routine that’s guaranteed to do all those things. To get the results you desire, plan your workouts carefully, put the effort in and stick to them consistently.
The common misconception that weight training is only for building big muscles and super strength is false. One of the biggest mistakes a woman can make when starting out on a weight loss journey is to avoid weight training, according to strength coach and figure model Juliet Deane. Stick to full body weights workouts, as these burn more calories and are better for fat loss than split routines, claims trainer Rachel Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness in California. Pick compound exercises -- those that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously -- such as squats, lunges, pushups and dumbbell rows.
Cardio is key for shedding body fat and increasing fitness as it burns calories and ramps up your metabolism. Rather than traditional steady state running or moderate intensity work on the elliptical or rower though, use interval training. Characterized by short periods of very high intensity work, interspersed with slightly longer, low intensity periods, interval training has a far more beneficial effect on your metabolism and burns more calories in less time, according to trainer Charlotte Andersen of “Shape Magazine.” Try 30 seconds all out, followed by 90 seconds at a steady pace, repeated 10 times on any cardio machine.
Weights and cardio are both integral parts of any plan, but you can combine them both with circuit training. You get the strength benefits of weight training and the fitness and calorie burn benefits of cardio all in one. The American Council on Exercise advises pairing one or two strength exercises with a cardio exercise. Do a set of dumbbell lunges, then another of close-grip pushups, before sprinting on the treadmill of 30 seconds.
Perform at least two full body strength sessions each week. Choose four to six exercises that between them hit every major muscle group and aim for three to four sets of eight to 12 reps on each. Increase the weight slightly or add extra reps each workout. You can do your cardio after weights, on separate days, or combine the two in the same session. Look to complete 75 minutes of intense cardio each week, split up as you see fit.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.