“Strength is not about being better than someone else… it’s about being better than you used to be.”

Anytime I go to the gym I see the majority of women doing cardio, talking and a lot more cardio. Literally the whole time I’m there they are on the elliptical, stair climber and treadmill. Now I have to say anyone working out and getting themselves to the gym deserves props! And anything you do to be more active and to get your heartrate up is good for you. But what drives me crazy is when you talk with the “cardio queens” all they talk about is how they are trying to lose weight and get more toned. Let me tell you a secret… doing cardio for an hour a day will not get you there!!!

First off if you are always doing cardio, especially the same exercises every day, at the same intensities then you’re body becomes accustomed to what you are doing and you will plateau. You need to be changing up your workouts and adding different intensities. These types of workouts are known as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts. Online you can find many examples of these workouts. Give them a try and you’ll be amazed how much faster you see changes in your body. The best part is you only need 20 minutes to get in an effective HIIT workout!

Second, if you want to burn body fat then building muscle is the fastest way to do that. But you have to push yourself and lift heavy… no using 10 lbs for bicep curls (come on ladies our purses weigh more than that)! Muscle tissue is metabolically active, meaning it burns a greater number of calories all day long, even when you’re at rest. So if you lifted in the morning you’re still burning calories from that workout into the evening.

Third it is a myth that if you lift lighter weights and do higher repetitions you will get “cut”. You need to push yourself and grow your muscles to start seeing definition and get toned. If you can do more than 10-12 repetitions with a weight then increase your weight. Ideally you want to be struggling to get that last rep up (I usually go for anywhere between 6-10 reps).

Now I realize if you have never lifted it can be very intimidating going to the gym and starting to lift when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. The great thing is you can find step by step instruction videos online that walk you through how to perform every exercise and machine at the gym. And don’t be afraid to watch them while sitting on the machine (everyone has their phone with them these days). Or print out and bring a few papers that show you how to perform the exercises. I carry around a notebook when I lift to track my progress, no one would know the difference. You can also ask someone how to use machines, most people are more than willing to help. Last, go to the gym at times when it’s pretty empty, even for only a week or two until you feel more comfortable.

You will never regret lifting weights, the high you feel as you start to see changes and not to mention how much fun it is to get STRONG!