New to Working out?
Follow this beginners guide to building your perfect workout.
One of the most common beginner mistakes is to focus on Cardio only. A lot of training newbies believe that cardio is the best and/or only way to lose fat and get lean.
In reality, cardio is just one component of a balanced fitness routine, and although it does play a role in fat loss, a lean body is achieved through a combination of strength training, cardio, and the right nutrition.
Here we will go over some of the key components of a well-balanced workout and show you how you can start to get in shape and achieve a lean toned body.
Do you know why strength training is an important part of getting lean?
A lean “toned” looking body needs to have a healthy amount of muscle tissue to achieve that “firm body” look.
If you want to see muscle definition, you need to work your muscles. This doesn’t mean you will look like the incredible hulk.
Women’s bodies naturally get leaner and tighter with strength training.
So long as you’re eating the right amount of nutrition your strength training results will be: a sleeker, tighter looking body with lean feminine curves.
When designing your strength training routine you should focus your attention on “Compound Movements” – meaning exercises that work your largest muscle groups like legs, chest, and back, and involve more than one joint and/or muscle group at a time.
Some exercises like single arm bicep curls, for example, are not classified as compound movements because only one single joint and one single muscle group are being worked.
Furthermore, your perfect strength training routine should include various exercises for 3 main groups: Lower Body, Upper Body, and Core.
Here are examples of Compound Movements that focus on these 3 groups:
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, toes slightly pointed out. Sit back and down until your hips are in line with your knees. Keep your back straight and your head and chest up. Reach your arms out in front of you for counterbalance. Press your heels into the ground to stand up and flex your butt and legs. Repeat.
Stand upright and place your hands on your hips. Shift all your weight to one leg and lightly touch your toes of the other leg on the ground behind you. Take a large step back with the free leg and bend both knees until your back knee almost touches the ground.
Bridge Hip Thrusts
Lay flat on your back and place your heels close to your butt. Press your heels down into the ground and lift your butt up to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Flex your butt at the top, slowly lower back down to the ground and repeat.
Start in a plank position ensuring that your hands are shoulder width apart and lined up right below your shoulders. Keep your core tight and your legs straight and start to bend your elbows to lower your chest towards the ground. Do not move your hips or neck, maintain that straight line of your plank. Press your hands into the ground to lift up and return to the starting position.
If this is too difficult, try angling your body by placing your hands on the edge of a table or couch instead of on the ground. Work on that straight core position and gradually build up the strength to be able to do full push-ups.
Stand in a bent over position with your back straight and hold the dumbbells down by your ankles. Maintain your bent over position and row the weights up towards your rib cage. Flex your back muscles. Slowly return the weights back to the starting position and repeat.
Dumbbell Curl To Press
In a kneeling position, brace your core and do a bicep curl. Once the dumbbells are at the top of the bicep curl rotate so that your palms are facing the front. Press the dumbbells up over your head while keeping a tight core. Slowly lower back to the starting position and repeat.
Hold your hands behind your head for support but do not pull on your neck. Lift your head and shoulders off the ground by flexing your abs. Exhale all the air as you contract and inhale as you relax.
Lay on your back with your hands planted on the ground by your sides and your legs up at a tabletop position. Crunch your knees towards your chest and lift your hips slightly off the ground. Slowly return to starting position and repeat.
Form a straight line from your head to your heels. Tighten up your core and hips. Imagine pulling your belly button up away from the floor.
You can choose to complete all of these exercises or just do one or two from each category to create a balanced workout.
Alternatively, you may choose to do one group on one day of the week and the other groups at a later day during the week.
If you only workout once per week it’s best to do a full body workout, but if you know for sure you can strength train 3 or more times per week it’s nice to break it up and have some variety to your training sessions.
In the end, the most important thing is to create balance and symmetry over the course of your week.
Now let’s not forget cardio…
Cardio is an essential part of getting lean too.
To use up current fat storage (lose fat) and prevent future fat gain (stay lean), you should be including some heart-pumping aerobic activity either in the middle or at the end of your strength training sessions.
I recommend spending the last 5 to 10 minutes of your workout doing intervals of bodyweight style cardio movements like these:
March or jog in place to bring your knee up to waist height. Alternate sides moving quickly. Keep your core tight and chest up.
Take a plank position with hands about shoulder width apart and jog your legs on the ground underneath you. Keep your upper body as still and steady as possible.
Squat all the way low to high moving up and down as quickly as you can.
My favorite way to use bodyweight cardio moves like these ones is to set up an interval timer. If you do not have an interval timer you can just watch the second hand on any clock, or you can count your reps instead.
Here are the intervals I suggest based on fitness level:
Beginners: [ 30:30 x 1] – 30 seconds of work, with 30 second rest periods. Do each of the 3 exercises for 1 round for a light 3-minute cardio workout
Intermediate: [40:20 x 2 ] – 40 seconds of work, with 20 seconds rest periods. Do each of the 3 exercises for 2 rounds, for a 6-minute medium intensity cardio workout.
Advanced: [ 20:10 x 3 ] – 20 seconds of work, with 10 second rest periods. Work as hard and fast as you can during the 20-second work intervals. Do each of the 3 exercises for 3 rounds for a 4 and a half minute high-intensity cardio workout