You’re a healthy lady. You care about your body. You go to the gym a couple times a week, hop on that elliptical, feel the burn. Or maybe you run around your neighborhood a few times every day, get that heart working. Perhaps you go and bust out your aerobics DVDs every morning and sweat to the oldies. That’s good. That’s real good.
But it’s not enough.
Friends, Romans, countrywomen, lend me your ears: cardio-based exercise alone is not enough. Don’t get me wrong, cardio is very important. It increases endurance, burns fat, strengthens your heart muscle. All those things are essential. But that’s not good enough for a strong, intelligent woman like you. You don’t just want to be a soft, weak, bony ball of skin with a healthy heart, do you? I mean, maybe you do. I’m not here to tell you what it is you want. All I’m saying is that some women want power. Some women want strong, built muscles. And those women need to do weight training.
I’m not talking about throwing around a couple of two-pound dumbbells while you’re doing your Fitsugar workout. That’s a great place to start, but I’m talking about going to the gym (or your basement, or wherever) and picking heavy shit up and putting it down again. Do this for a few months, and you will begin to notice changes. Your muscles will increase in size, giving you a more curvaceous look. You’ll be able to open a jar of pickles without your boyfriend’s help. When you exercise, you’ll have an easier time burning fat.
Here’s what WON’T happen: you won’t get all bulky and manly-looking. There are several reasons why you won’t. The first and most important is that you don’t have enough testosterone. Contrary to the way it sounds, testosterone is not a delicious Mexican dish.
Testosterone is a hormone that is produced by men and allows them to get big, rippling muscles if they try. Women produce it, too, but in puny quantities. The only way a woman can achieve that broad-shouldered, thick-thighed, extremely muscled look is to take extra testosterone. If you’re not taking testosterone, you have nothing to worry about. Trust me, your muscles are not going to magically grow to brobdignagian proportions overnight, until you are just a pair of beady little eyes peering out from a pulsing, vascular wad of meat.
Now that that’s all cleared up, let’s talk about specific weightlifting exercises. When you’re working out your huge maaaaahssels, you can go two ways: compound exercises, or isolation exercises. In other words, you can work out many parts of your body at once, or you can concentrate on just one body part. Neither is better or worse than the other. Compound exercises are a good way to make your workout take less time, because you are multitasking. Isolation exercises are a good way to focus on one muscle group and maximize the effects of the motion you’re doing.
In terms of compound exercises, there can be only one. There is really only one exercise that is absolutely imperative to have in your workout: the noble Squat. Squats are a veritable field day of muscle tension. They work the quads, the glutes, the back, everything. You can do them with dumbbells or a barbell, or you can even get a great strengthening workout just squatting your own bodyweight.
The basis of an effective squat is good form, otherwise you can injure yourself. Begin by standing with your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart. If your feet naturally turn outwards a little bit, as most of ours do, let them turn outward. Don’t try to correct them to point forward. If you are using weights, use your shoulder strength to keep them stabilized. Now you’ll want to keep your back flat, no arching whatsoever. If you keep your eyes focused up it will help you to not curve your spine. Bend from the waist, concentrating on that flat back. Then proceed to bend your knees until they are all the way bent. Your bottom should nearly be touching your heels. To come back up, keep your spine straight, using your leg muscles to push your bodyweight up. Don’t lock your knees at the top. Good! Now do another.
Here’s a woman banging out a few pretty solid squats:
Squats are a great exercise to add to your workout regimen, but they are not the only exercise that I highly recommend for a complete body workout. Pushups are another good one. Here’s how little of an expert I am: I can do a single pushup. That’s right. One fucking pushup. After that, my form starts seriously going south. I just haven’t built up the upper body strength at this point to do good pushups. But you should try them out. Even if you can’t do a single pushup, start with lady pushups, with your knees on the ground. Eventually, you’ll work your way up to that one good pushup, and it’s all uphill from there. Aside from absolutely annihilating your arms, they will do a number on your shoulders, back, abdominals, and butt. Hellz. To the yeah.
I have no idea why this woman is doing pushups in what appears to be a divider in the middle of a six-lane highway, but she knows what she’s talking about:
Those are, in my humble opinion, the two more important full-body strength exercises you can do for yourself. They target almost every body part and will get you into that fat-burning, muscle-building zone faster than you can say “like a boss.” And they’re challenging. They really are. But don’t get down on yourself if you can’t squat a hundred pounds on your first try. It’s gonna take time and effort, just like most worthwhile things in life. But when you wrestle your first alligator, you’ll thank me.