Strength Training for Bikini Beauty
You can enhance the shape of your body with strength training exercises. I did it – and you can too.
Strength training refers to any exercise that requires your muscles to exert force against resistance. It is often associated with men or competitive athletes. But getting stronger can make your body toned and shapely. Women can enjoy the benefits of strength training without having to worry about bulking up.
Testosterone is the controlling factor, and most women have such a small amount of this hormone that they won’t develop big muscles. That doesn’t mean your body won’t change. It will. You’ll build tone, strength and endurance.
The nice thing about strength training is that you can see and feel results quickly, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to do it. It’s amazing how much you can do with a set of dumbbells. I like using dumbbells because they allow for a full range of motion. This gives shape and contour to your muscles. Plus, working out with dumbbells or “free weights” allows you to target trouble spots. If you do strength training exercises 2-3 times per week for 20 minutes you will improve your appearance — and your level of fitness.
Another benefit of strength training is the way it builds confidence.
When I first started strength training I used one-pound dumbbells. I had purchased a book about women’s bodybuilding and followed the exercises in the book. I will never forget how good it made me feel to “pump iron” – even though I was pumping only a total of two pounds. But, it was the mindset that mattered. And I got results. I had purchased weight gloves and a weight belt at the time, too, and the way I strutted around the gym you would have thought I was lifting 200 pounds! This strong and confident attitude carried over to my life outside of the gym.
Once you become comfortable with smaller weights you can build up gradually. Increasing resistance every 2-3 weeks works well. This is what I did and within a year I was able to lift heavier weights. But I discovered, over time, that lifting heavy weights wasn’t necessary. I found that I could stay toned and strong by using lighter weights and higher repetitions. The secret to getting quick and effective results is using slow controlled movements combined with focused attention on the muscles you are working.
If you visualize yourself becoming stronger and more toned with each repetition, you will achieve just that. You don’t need to lift heavy weights unless you are planning to become a competitive bodybuilder or power lifter. I am
a former competitive bodybuilder and weight lifter, but to this day my favorite set of dumbbells is a 10 pound set. I suggest keeping a journal when you begin strength training because it is fun to review your progress. And remember to write down your goals.
Experts say that writing down your goals creates the roadmap to your success. It represents a commitment. According to http://www.goal-setting-guide.com/goal-writing.html… “Only about 5% of the population actually takes the time to write down their goals and dreams. Maybe that is why so few people actually are living the life they would like to be living.” So in addition to pumping iron — don’t forget to pump your pen.
You have more than 600 muscles in your body. Muscle tone and strength naturally diminishes with age. The medical term for this is sarcopenia. It is believed that muscle strength peaks during your 20s and then slowly declines into your 30s. You need muscle tone and strength to perform everyday tasks, and you need it for overall balance and bone density. According to Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource: “…much, if not most, of the decrease in muscle mass that occurs with age appears to be related to reduced physical activity.”
Strength training helps to maintain a significant amount of muscle mass as you age. It is never too late to start. The idea is to strengthen all of the muscle groups. Elastic resistance bands, small dumbbells—or even cans of vegetables can be used to build strength and offset the effects of aging. I like using resistance machines at the gym, too, but find what works for you. Consistency is the key.
Before starting any exercise program get the OK from your doctor. Afterwards, begin slowly. Here are some strength training tips:
— Warm up with light cardio for about 10 minutes. I usually do brisk walking or stationary biking. After your warm up, do some stretching. Stretching prepares your joints for motion.
— Strive to work all of the muscle groups, but avoid working the same muscle groups on consecutive days. For example, you can perform upper body exercises one day, and then do lower body exercises on another. This method is called a “split routine.” It helps to focus your energy on a few body parts instead of having to focus on your entire body. But it depends how much time you have available. When I have a hectic schedule I do a full-body routine. There is no need to over-train, but it’s good to challenge yourself. Give the specific muscles you have worked one full day of rest after each session. This gives your muscles time to recover.
— Perform 10-15 repetitions of each exercise. I usually do 2 sets of 6 different exercises.
— Perform each exercise with slow, controlled movements. Never rush.
— Remember to breathe. I suggest breathing in sync with your movements…it helps with the flow. Generally, the technique is inhale when starting – and exhale when releasing. Use a 4 count, such as…4-count up – and then 4-count down. Count slowly. Maintain good form and technique. This will maximize your benefits.
— Choose weight resistance that tires your muscles after about 12 reps. If you can’t perform 8 repetitions it means the weight is too heavy. If you can easily do 12 repetition of a particular exercise, try increasing the resistance.
— When working with weights stay focused. This is not the time to chat or fool around. Keep your concentration. You’ll get better results and you’ll avoid injury.
— Maintain good postural alignment. If you are standing, keep the knees soft. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground. Don’t slouch.
— You can use your body weight as resistance. I like push ups. You can do them on your knees as long as you don’t have knee problems. They are good for building upper-body strength.
— Resistance bands or “stretch bands” are fun to use and they’re inexpensive. You can find them in a variety of colors and tensions. Plus, they’re great for traveling because they are light and easy to transport.
— Stop if you feel pain. Mild muscle soreness is normal, but if you experience pain or swelling — stop.
— Good nutrition goes a long way. Eat balanced meals. Add a variety of colors to your plate. Lean protein, nuts and legumes help to build strong muscles.
Start strength training now. I strongly recommend it