A1: YES. I completely understand about not having gym access…there are many women in the same shoes! But, have no fear… this is not a problem (and no need to run off and buy a gym membership either)! Here, let me help:
First of all, I have created a special "home workout guide" for women in the same position as you. Go to my home workout guide
where you can download the special at-home workout guide for free! It also includes a nutrition section with a daily healthy meal plan you can follow for even better results. There is a video library for you of ALL THE EXERCISES listed in the home workout guide. If you don't know how to do the exercise, just click on the links I have provided in the guide and watch the quick video of that exercise! (or click on my online index
of all the home exercises on video). The exercises I have put in this home workout guide are just as easy to do in your living room as at the gym, so you won't be missing out on any of the benefits if you do them from home!) For the fitness portion, if you do this at home all you will need is:
- A very stable chair or step that you can step up onto fairly easily.
- A set of 5, 10, and 15 lb dumbbells.
- A big stability ball (you can get one at Target for about $10).
Fitness Schedule (Write it down now, and make it a part of your permanent schedule!)
- Three days/week: Home lifting workouts (alternate between the two workouts listed in the home workout guide) How to do this? Well, in this free home workout guide, there are two special workouts: workout #1 is arms and abs, and workout #2 is legs, butt, and abs. These are your two lifting workouts. You will do these three times a week, alternating between these two workouts.For instance, if your 3 lifting days are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, then week #1 would be: Workout #1 on Monday, Workout #2 on Wednesday, and Workout #1 again on Friday. Then week 2 would be: Workout #2 on Monday, Workout #1 on Wednesday, and Workout #2 again on Friday. You'd just keep repeating this pattern, with your weeks alternating between doing workout #2 twice, or doing workout #1 twice.
- Two days/week: 25 minutes cardio (see home workout guide for details) (do these on different days than you do your home lifting workouts). For instance, if you lift on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you would do cardio on two of the other days that you don't lift (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, or Sundays). The remaining two days are "rest"days! If you enjoy weekends off, then schedule Saturday and Sunday as your two rest days! It is very important to make your workout schedule suit YOU. I think you will really like this new schedule because running is at a minimum, which will make your workout routine MUCH less boring! Also, while each lifting workout says to start with 8 - 10 minutes of cardio, this does not need to be running! One of my favorite ways to warm up each lift is with 8 - 10 minutes of jumping rope to my favorite up-beat songs... whatever works for you!
You should also check out my 14-week members-only program… it's filled with tons more exercises you can do at home! :)
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A2: YES. The legs and butt are a VERY common area of frustration for women… so I'm very familiar with what works to help tone it up!
Weightlifting can definitely help get you those legs and butt that you want! Particularly, you should spend more time doing strength exercises that force you to use as many different muscle groups in your lower body as possible, such as the deadlift, straight leg deadlift, box squat, goodmorning, and dumbbell step-ups. These exercises are all found in my free lifting guide
(Click to download it, and check out my complete exercise index
to watch videos of how to do the exercises). These exercises are the BEST for making your legs and butt stronger and more toned just like you want! :) Another awesome butt/glute exercise is the "glute ham raise" [video link
] and the "glute ham raise substitute" [video link
]. There are also dozens more ultra-effective legs and butt exercises, tips, and tricks in my full 14-week program! The above exercises will help you to build the muscle that will make your butt and legs look toned. However, in order to build that lean sexy muscle, you must also make sure you are eating properly. For, if you don't eat enough, your body will just burn up your muscle for fuel instead of building lean muscle, and you will not see the results that you are looking for. (In fact, 90 percent of your results will come from nutrition alone!) So, if you haven't already, become an FTF15 member
to get your own easy-to-follow personalized nutrition guide!! Not only will it improve your ability to work out, but it is really the only way to ensure that your workouts will do their job and get you that awesome butt!
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A3: First of all, many people falsely believe that it is possible to "Spot treat" certain areas of our bodies.
For instance, you probably see lots of other women doing hundreds of crunches at the gym… and it's because they believe that doing lots of crunches will magically make their belly fat disappear. However, this is not the case! Our bodies don't lost fat from one location at a time… rather, we lose fat equally from all over with increased exercise. Thus, when you do a crunch or sit-up, while this movement will make your core stronger (this is the "burn" that you feel), this movement will only burn a teeny tiny bit of fat from all over your body. This means that the most effective way to lost fat from any given part of our bodies (ie. your stomach) is through combination lifting exercises that involve as many different muscle groups as possible
(and hence burn the most calories!) So then, to answer your question, the most efficient way to get rid of stubborn belly fat is to burn as much fat all over your body as possible! This is done in a variety of ways:
- Instead of focusing on exercises like crunches (which burn little to no fat from all over your body), you should spend a majority of your time doing multi-muscle lifting exercises that trigger your body to burn a TON of fat all at once. Strength exercises that force you to use as many different muscle groups as possible, such as the deadlift and box squat, are the best way to do this! Believe it or not, the deadlift uses more muscles per lift than any other exercise on the planet. The deadlift makes your abs strain to stabilize and support weight in ways that crunches can only dream of! :)
- Just like my cardio article says, doing "cardio sandwiches" (8 - 10 minute jog/run before AND after your lifts) is also a tremendous way to increase the power of the fat-burn both during AND after you lift! Seriously this works awesome… but I would only do this for 2 out of your 4 lifting workouts… and would cycle this so that every 3 weeks you are taking a week off from "cardio sandwiches"! (otherwise you may get burned out… which would defeat the purpose!)
- Become an FTF15 member to learn more awesome ways to get those 6-pack abs!
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A4: You should NEVER have to feel deprived on your journey to weightloss! Here, let me help:
Many women who feel "deprived" on a new meal plan feel this way because they are trying too hard to "diet", that is… to limit their caloric intake. This is just bad news all over, because starving or depriving yourself only slows down your metabolism, and as you've noted -- makes you crave crave CRAVE! To help guard against this cycle of deprivation and painful cravings, you have to make sure you are eating enough healthy food on a regular basis. The personalized nutrition plan I provide in my full 14-week program
is a perfect example -- 5 - 6 small meals per day, complete with fresh fruits, veggies, lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. If you are eating a lot of healthy food, you again will be much less tempted to give into that sweet tooth! I too have a sweet tooth… but let me tell you a little secret: FRUIT can cure any sweet tooth! Seriously, what are your 3 favorite fruits? Whatever they may be, go out and buy a BUNCH of these whole fruits (fruits that don't require much preparation are ideal…like apples, bananas, oranges, pears, berries, grapes, etc… ). This way, when you see that candy bowl or brownie and have a "craving", recognize that your body would MUCH rather enjoy a nice, sweet, nutritious piece of fruit (fruit = "nature's candy"!) Not only is fruit much more filling and satisfying, but it's full of vitamins, minerals, and it won't get stored on your body as fat. And as a bonus, it will really cure that sweet tooth. Also, for some other super fast and delicious healthy snack ideas, check out my healthy snack article
. And finally… (and most IMPORTANTLY)… Don't be too hard on yourself ("Cheat" occasionally!) Let's face it: in the words of Miley Cyrus, "Nobody's Perfect!" So, don't expect yourself to be! In other words, we all need a little chocolate and ice cream in our lives sometimes… and that's exactly why I've built the program to allow for three "cheats" per week -- "planned failures", so to speak. Straying from the nutrition plan 10% of the time like this will NOT have any negative impact on your progress. In fact, it's quite the opposite; if you don't plan on using up your thrice-weekly "cheats", you're basically just dooming yourself to failure. Plus, you will enjoy your planned "cheats" MUCH more than multiple handfuls of mm's scattered throughout the course of your week… and those cravings will happen a lot less often than they do now, I promise!! So, don't beat yourself up or feel guilty if when you want to eat a not-so-healthy meal. Instead, ENJOY it, write it off as one of your three "cheats" for the week, then get back on track and continue making progress on the plan! (Just a note about cheat meals: A "CheatMeal" is REASONABLE in terms of quantity and nutrition. In other words, this is not a "Cheat Buffet" or a "Cheat Mountain of ice cream with chocolate sauce and mm's instead of dinner". Your cheat meal should fit reasonably on the same-sized plate as any of your other meals -- like 3 pieces of pizza as your meal, or a nice scoop of ice cream after a healthy meal) :) For more help with sticking to your healthy plan, become an FTF15 member
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A5: YES! Here are some things you can do to help stay on track, despite your boyfriend's fancy for junk food.
- This may seem obvious, but have you tried talking to him about the negative effect of his unhealthy splurges on your ability to stick to your plan? If he understands just how much it frustrates you, perhaps he will think twice before buying that huge bag of nachos, or at least eating them in front of you.
- It might also help to ask him to buy the junk food ONLY for himself (ie. In single-servings). He probably thinks he is being considerate by bringing home extra large portions to share with you, but let him know that you truly don't want any.
- You notice that it is much easier to eat healthfully when you aren't surrounded by constant temptation to eat junk food. That said, make sure your/your boyfriend's kitchen is always fully stocked with delicious HEALTHY snacks that you love. That way, if he pulls out the unhealthy food, you're ready with some nutritious snack versions of your own.
- If he insists on continuing to buy the junk, ask him to hide it from you, and to eat it when you aren't around. If you don't see him eating the junk food (and it's not always out in plain sight), you'll be much less tempted to join in.
- Create your own healthy versions of his unhealthy snacks. If he whips out the nachos, grab some whole wheat crackers and tomato salsa (you can even share the salsa). If he starts scooping up the ice cream, make your own delicious healthy treat: a bowl of vanilla yogurt with fresh berries on top, or a refreshing fruit smoothie! (In my experience, I have noticed that people have trouble (feel guilty) if they are eating something unhealthy while you are eating nutritiously. So who knows, he may even decide that your healthy snacks look better!)
- However, every once in a while, it is nice to sit down and enjoy an unhealthy treat with someone you love. Even the healthiest of eaters should "cheat" on their diets -- nobody can be perfect! I actually recommend cheating 3 times per week, because these 3 "cheat meals" will have no negative impact on your progress, and actually help most women stay on track. The key here though is to PLAN on these little weekly cheats with your man. (A "cheat" is equal to one reasonably sized meal or dessert of whatever you want). Perhaps suggest that he skips the 4 liters of store-bought ice cream, and that the two of you go out for ice cream instead every Friday? And, rather than bringing home an endless bag of nachos, maybe you could go to the movies together and share a bag of popcorn? In other words, suggest alternatives that will give you both something to look forward to together, where you can go out and enjoy your one serving and then get back on track easily when you get home.
For even more help with sticking to your healthy plan, become an FTF15 member!
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A6: YES! First of all, make sure you are following a good nutrition plan! Become a member to get your personalized plan! I think you will really like this plan because it is designed to help keep your metabolism high and your belly full all day while you lose weight! Again, I would like to stress that this is NOT a "diet"… but rather, a very healthy way of eating that is sure to help you look AND feel your best. I recommend printing it, and carrying it with you in your purse :)
Without a nutrition plan, it becomes all too easy to just eat whatever is available, whenever it's available… and unfortunately the world around us usually doesn't make healthy options readily available. (When was the last time you saw fresh apples and bananas on a fast food menu?) You get my point! Plan ahead by bringing healthy snacks with you to class/work/etc… and you'll be much less tempted when junk food crosses your path. Also, keep a nutrition journal. It doesn't have to be fancy, either -- just a simple little notebook will do… a portable place for you to easily write down EVERYTHING that you eat. It's amazing how much more reluctant we are to eat something unhealthy if we have to write it down and account for it! In fact, many studies have also shown that women (and men) of all ages are extremely dishonest with themselves about the food they eat. Across the board, we eat way more sweets, fats, oils, and grainy treats than we think we do. At the same time, we also tend to be extremely over-optimistic about our fruit and veggie intake. I'm not saying that we TRY to deceive ourselves about our food habits… but this doesn't change the fact that we DO. The problem is that people simply are not very good at judging their own dietary intake until they start measuring and keeping accurate records of what they actually eat. (My research has shown that women who write down what they eat consume about 700 calories less than those who don't!) Crazy, right?!
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A7: First of all, I understand your frustration about feeling like you can't get a good workout done in an hour… especially with all the school work you have to do! However, I can ASSURE you that we can get you a fabulous fat-burning workout in an hour or less… through a combination of cardio and weightlifting… let me explain:
If you haven't done so already, download my free lifting workout guide
. This guide will start you on a fat-burning lifting program that you can definitely complete in under an hour! Lifting is a great workout not only because it makes you sweat WHILE you're in the gym… but because the fat-burning power of a lifting workout goes way beyond the hour that you spend in the gym! Lifting builds muscle, which is your body's natural metabolism-boosting, fat-burning tissue. So, lifting for an hour will give your body and metabolism a boost for HOURs after you leave the gym! Specifically, to get the most out of your hour time slot, you should spend more time doing multi-muscle lifting exercises that trigger your body to burn a TON of fat all at once. Strength exercises that force you to use as many different muscle groups as possible, such as the deadlift and box squat (both found in my free program), are the best way to do this! Believe it or not, the deadlift uses more muscles per lift than any other exercise on the planet. The deadlift makes your abs strain to stabilize and support weight in ways that crunches can only dream of! These exercises are also the BEST for making your legs, abs and butt stronger and more toned just like you want :) Another amazing way to burn a ton of fat in addition to lifting is by incorporating "high intensity interval training" (HIIT) into your workout schedule once per week. A great example of an "HIIT" cardio workout would be to jog a lap around the track, then sprint 1/2 a lap and walk 1/2 a lap... and to repeat this for 25 minutes. Don't over-do this though... limit it to once per week. Your 2nd cardio session each week should be 25 minutes of steady-state cardio (running at a comfortable speed). There are some more great HIIT/cardio workouts detailed here in my short cardio article
. Remember, you don't need a track for these either though… all you need is some open road and a watch to time yourself, or even an i-pod with a fun playlist (alternate between fast and slower running, switching between speeds every time a new song comes on)! No matter what though, always be sure to warm up your muscles very well before you try sprinting :) You can also practice "cardio sandwiching"! What the hell is THAT? I am not telling you to wolf down a sandwich mid-run :). I am talking about strategic positioning of your cardio sessions during your workout: break up your cardio into 2 mini sessions: one 10 minute session before your lift, and one 10 minute session after your lift. This will take the fat burning power of your lift to a whole new level by revving up your heart rate and core body temperature! Then, combine this with a second short run after you lift and this will increase the calories burned post-workout like crazy!! (So your 1 hour workout would look like this: 10 minutes cardio, 35 minutes lifting, 10 minutes cardio!)But don't get too eager - limit this method to no more than twice a week. Finally, BECOME A MEMBER of my 14-week program
to get 14 weeks of awesome workouts that you can do in under an hour, but with maximal burn! :)
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A8: As I am sure you already know, simply dropping certain foods from your diet isn't the way to go if you're interested in maintaining good health, a high energy level, and strong muscles and bones… especially when you're on a workout program like this one! So, if you want to go vegetarian, this is great! We just have to make sure you're as smart as possible about it :)
While I have never tried to go vegetarian myself (admittedly, I like chicken and turkey too much to quit!), I do know that as a vegetarian you will have to be careful to include the following key nutrients that may be lacking in a vegetarian diet:
- Iron:Many websites will tell you that sea vegetables like"nori, wakame, and dulse" are very high in iron… but honestly I have never even seen any of these in the grocery store, let alone tasted any of them! SO, some far less "exotic" but still good options are iron-fortified breakfast cereals (like Multi-Grain Cheerios!), legumes (chickpeas, lentils, and baked beans), soybeans and tofu, dried fruit (raisins and figs), pumpkin seeds, broccoli, and spinach are all quite tasty. Eating these foods along with a food high in vitamin C (citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, and broccoli) will help you to absorb the iron better.As you probably know, women need to be particularly concerned about getting adequate iron because some iron is lost during your period. Low Iron in your blood can also make you feel terrible! (Slow, weak, sluggish Some women who are vegetarians may not get adequate iron from vegetable sources and they may require a daily supplement (I prefer "Slow Fe" brand... as it is gentle on your tummy and won't cause you to get constipated like some others will.
- Calcium: Milk and yogurt (Greek yogurt!) are best if you're eating dairy products. Greek Yogurt is my favorite because it's super rich-tasting even if you buy the 0% fat, goes great with berries, and has at least DOUBLE the protein of regular yogurt! Tofu, fortified soy milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, green leafy vegetables, and dried figs are also excellent ways for vegetarians (and vegans) to get calcium. Again, calcium is also particularly important for you as a woman! For, women have a much greater risk for getting osteoporosis as adults. Even if you are eating a lot of dairy, I still recommend taking a supplement to ensure that you're getting enough! I personally like the chewable"Caltrate" tablets, or the "Adora" Dark chocolate calcium supplement (delicious!). I have one of these after lunch every day (because I think they are delicious, and also have the added bonus of satisfying my sweet tooth).Side note: Vitamin D will help you absorb calcium better! Simply getting out in the sunshine will encourage your body to produce more of this vitamin, and fortified cereals are also a good source if you don't get out much.
- Protein:This is a kicker. Protein is SO important when you are on a workout plan like this one, but don't worry it's not that hard to get enough… even as a vegetarian! Current recommendations are that vegetarians eat a wide variety of foods during the course of a day. Eggs and dairy products are good sources of protein, but also try nuts, peanut butter, tofu, beans, seeds, soy milk, grains, cereals, and vegetables to get all the protein your body needs.I also think you might benefit from a good protein supplement… especially if you are feeling weak in the gym as you say (also make sure you are eating enough calories… as this too can cause you to feel weak!!) My personal favorite protein supplement is "Muscle Milk LIGHT" milk chocolate flavor. You can buy these in little miniature 100-calorie pre-mixed "juice box" style cartons… OR, the more economic way is to buy a tub of it in powder form. Serving size is two scoops, but I usually only add 1 scoop to my oatmeal every morning! (take 1/2 cup whole grain oats and cook in microwave according to instructions… and after it's done, add 1/4 – 1/3 cup soymilk, and 1 scoop protein powder… delicious!!)
- Vitamin B12: This vitamin is an essential vitamin found only in animal products, including eggs and dairy. Fortified soy milk and fortified breakfast cereals also have this important vitamin. However, you might still want to get some vitamin b-12 vitamins if you find that your energy levels start to get low on your new vegetarian diet.
- Zinc: Zinc is very important for maintaining a healthy immune system! I take one tablet every night just to help my body fight off infection (my office is a cesspool for germs… ugh). Zinc is also found in dairy foods, but again make sure fortified cereals, dried beans, nuts, and soy products like tofu and tempeh are also part of your diet to help you get enough zinc!
I would also recommend discussing this with your doctor, and doing some additional research on your own to make sure you are getting enough of the right nutrients. You can also become a MEMBER of FTF15to get your own personalized nutrition guide!
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A9: There are a number of things you can do moving forward to make sure you're always getting the most benefit from your workouts! Here's what I recommend:
- You can start with an emphasis on increasing the weight you are lifting to avoid reaching plateaus. How to do this? Well, first of all, always keep track of how much weight you are lifting when you work out in a notebook. This way, you can always be pushing yourself relative to what you did last time! Then, when the weights start to feel easier, it means you are getting stronger and can handle more. A good way to ease into using a heavier weight is to start using that heavier weight only on your last set of the exercise.For example, if you are doing three sets of 10 repetitions and 8 lb dumbbells are getting easy for that exercise, you would use 8 lbs for the first 2 sets and 10 lbs on the last set. Then if that feels pretty good, the next time you workout you can try 10 lbs for the last two sets... until you are using 10 lbs easily on all three sets! This way, you will always be pushing yourself relative to what you did last time. Just continue evaluating how easy/hard the exercises are for you every time you workout (keep track of this in your workout log), and when the last set starts to feel easier again, you can increase the weight to 12, 15, 20 lbs (and beyond!) the exact same way as described above :)
- You can also try to increase the number of sets (increase by 1 or 2 sets) or repetitions (increase by 1 - 10 reps). Just make sure you're keeping track of how many sets and repetitions you do each time (again, in your workout journal), as this will help ensure that you are always pushing yourself relative to what you've done the previous week. For instance, let's say you did 3 sets of 10 repetitions of an exercise with 10 lbs last week. Well, then you would use this as a "benchmark" this week, and would try to improve upon this in some way -- say, by trying to do 3 sets of 12 repetitions.
- You can also make the workouts even harder by mixing up the tempo (the speed at which you lift the weights/perform the exercises) by moving to "counts". Let me explain:Every exercise has 4 phases: the first moving phase (for instance, in a dumbbell bench press, this is the phase when you are lowering the dumbbells to your chest), a middle stationary phase (the point at which the dumbbells are fully lowered, about to be pushed back up), a second moving phase (returning the weights to the starting position), and the end stationary position (the point at which the repetition is completed, and you are about to start a new repetition. In a dumbbell bench, this is when the weights are back to the starting position with arms fully extended). So, for instance, you could do dumbbell bench press on a "5/2/5/2" count… meaning that you would lower the weight slowly to your chest for 5 counts, "hover" in a stationary position at the bottom of your repetition for 2 counts, slowly raise the weights for 5 counts, and pause at the top for 2 counts. That would be one repetition. A "5/2/5/2" count can be used for ANY exercise using this same principle! Other counts can also be used… but start with "5/2/5/2" and then when this gets easy, you can try different counts such as 8/2/8/2 or 5/5/5/5… or 10/0/10/0 (the "0's" indicate no pause at the stationary points). It's amazing at how much more difficult the exercise becomes with just this simple change, because it drastically increases the amount of time that your muscles are under tension.
Three important things to keep in mind though with regards to lifting heavier though:
- You should still always do "warm up" sets of each exercise at a lighter weight. This is especially true as you get even stronger and are lifting heavier weight. For instance, let's say some day you are lifting 15 lbs on all three sets of an exercise... in this case, it would be a good idea to do a warm up set with 8 lbs and then a warmup set with 10 lbs before beginning your three sets using 15 lbs. This ensures that your muscles are warmed up, awake, and strong and ready to lift that 15 lbs. :)
- Also keep in mind that each exercise will not be the same -- some exercises will progress faster than others so you must evaluate each exercise individually. For instance, exercises like "tricep kickbacks" will probably always stay at around 5 - 10 lbs for most women!
- That said, you can continue repeating the lifting cycle as long as you ensure you are constantly pushing yourself by increasing weight, reps, or changing the tempo as you get stronger and can handle more. After 12 weeks of lifting though, it's important to give yourself 1-2 weeks of "rest" (ie. No lifting!)
However, obviously it's not really possible to be CONSTANTLY improving upon your old records in terms of weight or number of reps! So, I highly recommend joining my 14-week program, where you can access hundreds of new exercises to help keep your workouts highly effective and fun! :)
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A10: First, please do not fear that lifting weights will make you look like a body builder!
Many women share this same fear… but unless you take steroids, there is no way you will every look like a body builder… PROMISE! It's actually impossible… because women only have 1/10th to 1/50th the amount of testosterone as men! This is a very very good thing, because it means that we can put fat-fighting muscle onto our bodies without getting big and "bulky". Instead, we get that feminine "toned" look you desire. That said, I advocate a combination of weight lifting, cardio, AND interval training! Cardio will burn the fat… weight training will increase your muscle, give your body "tone", and skyrocket your metabolism, and high intensity interval training will kick your body's fat-burning into high gear. It doesn't get any better than a combination of all three activities. My current free guide contains 2 weeks of lifting and cardio workouts… and if you haven't already downloaded it, go here
! And of course, after you go through this 2-week starter guide, you should try my full 14-week program
! This program will help take your body-toning routine to a whole new level of fat-burn and fun!
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A11: Start out at a weight that you KNOW you can lift, and work up slowly from there.
For instance, let's say you are starting 3 sets of 10 reps of dumb bell bench press. Before you even start your 3 sets of 10, you should do a few "warm up sets" to get up to the proper weight for you. To do this, you would start out with a super light weight (say, 5 lbs) just to get the muscles going through the motion. Then do another set at 8 lbs, to start to warm up the muscles... and increase to 10 lbs. Increase until your muscles are warmed up, and the sets become more difficult, but not SO difficult that you can't complete the full 10 reps. When you 'find' this proper weight (it will be different for everyone, and different for every exercise), you will then do your 3 sets of 10 reps at this weight. As you continue to improve and get stronger, you should check out my full 14-week program
. This program will help take your fat-burn to a whole new level! :)
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A12: I understand exactly what you mean about not having time to work out.
Life is crazy busy non-stop, and sometimes it seems as though there is barely any time for SLEEP, let alone exercise... especially in a position as intense as yours. However, staying consistent with your workouts even though your life and schedule are NOT consistent… just takes a little bit of extra planning. I personally have realized that if I worked out only when I "have time", I'd never work out! Life is too busy and unpredictable to go through without a plan of some sort… so you really just have to make time for it in advance. To help get you motivated to "make time", try the following:
- Try linking your desire to go to the gym with something powerful -- for instance, come up with at least 20 SPECIFIC reasons why working out will help you in life. Don't just list things like "to get in shape" -- this is too vague! Instead, dig deep, and think about how you will personally look, feel, etc. (how your life will change for the better!) if you just stick with your current workout plan. Consult your list of "reasons and benefits" any time you feel unmotivated to go to the gym… this will remind you why you started working out in the first place, and will reignite your desire to reach your personal goals.
- Incorporate the plan into your routine by writing the workouts into your schedule and committing to sticking to them. With how busy life can get, it's very easy to start skipping the gym if you haven't set time aside ahead of time. The same is true for nutrition -- and I have attached a full nutrition plan for you as well. After you have followed your new routine consistently for a while, you won't even have to think about it… eating healthy and working out consistently will have become a habit! It varies slightly from person to person, but it usually takes about 6 weeks to form a new healthy lifestyle "habit" such as this.
- I know that busy-work projects and psycho professors and bosses suck a lot of energy out of a person… but you will find that an exercise routine will actually help energize you! The other great thing about working out is that it also improves focus, concentration, mood, and sleep quality. So, even though you are taking time to work out, you will find that doing so will actually make you much more productive when you go to work/school, and will make you feel more rested when you wake up in the morning :)
- Get a workout partner! Challenge a good friend to try the plan too, and plan on doing workouts at the gym together. It's always harder to skip out on a workout knowing that a friend is counting on you to show up. But, your workout partner doesn't necessarily have to live nearby, either -- "Virtual" workout partners also work extremely well. Just get any good friend to commit to doing the plan along with you, and it will again be much harder to give up knowing that your friend is working hard somewhere.
- Listen to music! Personally, I cannot go to the gym without my i-pod -- sometimes, I look forward to working out simply because I know I get to listen to some of my favorite songs while I'm there! Plus, music also helps motivate you to workout harder. Remember that the gym is YOUR time -- a way to escape from the tasks of everyday life. Loading up an i-pod or mp3 player with your favorite songs (and frequently adding new ones) is a great way to make the gym time your OWN.
- Keep a fitness log. One of the biggest reasons why people lose motivation and give up is because they aren't seeing results. That's why writing down what you do every time you go into the gym is so important: it will keep you in competition with yourself by encouraging you to break previous records, and will also show you just how far you are coming!
- Plan ahead! Nothing's worse than being hungry and realizing you didn't bring a healthy snack, or skipping your workout because you forgot to bring gym clothes to work. Lack of proper planning is usually where most plans tend to fail, so make sure you always stick to your schedule and plan accordingly. That said, make sure you set yourself up for success by buying only healthy food at the store (if you have donuts on hand, you WILL eat the donuts!), and not scheduling anything that interferes with your workout time.
- And don't worry if you don't have time to go to the gym every once in a while -- you can always sneak in a good workout at your apartment, as long as you have a few pairs of dumbbells with you (see our great home-workout)... though personally, I feel that it's always easier to stay motivated at the gym vs. at home.
AND, if you need extra help staying motivated, join the FTF15 members-only program, where you can have access to motivational videos, and your very own virtual personal trainer (me!)
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A13: I totally understand what you mean about the weight room -- it can be so intimidating with all those men!! In this regard, I have two suggestions…
First, if you haven't done so yet, try reading my article about overcoming gym phobia
(this has helped MANY women who feel the same way you do). You can also download the workout videos from the guide directly onto your ipod (if you have one) here: Complete Exercise Index
... which means that even if you've never done the exercise before, all you have to do is look down at the video, and imitate me! It will be just like having your own personal trainer with you in the gym! Also, please know that most of those guys in the gym ALSO have no clue what they are doing, so I guarantee you they are NOT judging you -- in fact, they are most likely more self conscious about having a woman in the gym than you are about being there! Of course, if you still are not comfortable braving the gym just yet, you can always try my "at home" workout guide
, which can easily be done in the comfort of your dorm room! You can download the special at-home workout guide for free! My 14-week program
is also perfect for a beginner like yourself, because the instructional, motivational videos will hold your hand every step of the way. Plus, you'll have access to your very own virtual personal trainer! (me!)
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A14: It's totally up to you! Whether that's morning, afternoon or evening doesn't really matter -- but just make sure it's written into your schedule ahead of time to ensure that you actually get there.
One mistake that some women make is that they go through their days trying to "find time" to workout. But I personally have realized that if I worked out only when I "had time", I'd never work out! Life is too busy and unpredictable to go through without a plan of some sort… so you really just have to make time for it in advance -- at whatever time of day is best for you
! It's also perfectly fine to workout at different times on different days… though I recommend trying your best to stick to the same daily schedule every week (for instance, I personally like to lift on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; my two cardio days are flexible). That said, even though it doesn't really matter what time of day you work out (as long as you get it done!) I usually advise most women to coordinate their workout schedule with their eating schedule -- that is, to workout about 90 minutes after one of their meals, before their next snack. (Many women don't realize that their nutrition schedule is super important too! :) To get your very own nutrition plan and eating schedule, you should join my membership program
! The nutrition schedule I provide there will work no matter when you workout though -- as long as you workout about 60-90 minutes after any meal/snack and eat the next planned snack/meal within 30 minutes of finishing your workout! Remember, if you don't eat your healthy food after your workout, the workout was pointless
. When I have to work out at night, one of my personal favorite post-workout/before-bed snacks is 8 oz Greek yogurt with some berries mixed in! It's full of protein, antioxidants, and the calcium in the yogurt will help put you to sleep (just like a glass of warm milk!):)
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A15: First of all, please do not get discouraged.
I understand that seeing the scale stay the same when you're trying your best to do everything right is very disappointing, especially if you are used to using the scale as your determination of "progress" or success like many women do. But, I can tell you that the scale is one of the most inconsistent indicators of real progress in the gym! For instance, two people of the same height and weight can look COMPLETELY different: One could be thin and muscular with 15% bodyfat, and the other could be chubby and soft, with 40% bodyfat. You get the point… but, to drive it home, I will use myself as an example. In my freshman year of college, I gained like 12 pounds in just 4 months, and came back for Winter Break feeling (and looking) chubby (my mom called me "thick"…lol). Today, I weigh almost exactly the same as I did then… but my body has completely transformed! How is that possible? Well, as I started incorporating lifting into my workout routine, my body started replacing the fat with muscle… so basically it was re-distributing the bodyweight as tissues that made me look and feel a hundred times better than before. Plus, all the muscle boosts your metabolism so that you can continue to shed fat and maintain that lean, transformed body! Unfortunately, these are all things that the numbers on the scale cannot demonstrate. (ps. Most people think I weigh a lot less than I actually DO -- but that's because my muscle is heavy, but makes me lean!) This is why I never ever use the scale as a judge of my progress -- I used to… and I hated being a slave to it. I hated the fact that my weight could fluctuate from minute to minute, from day to day… or depending on what "time of the month" it was. So, I started using REAL indicators of progress: such as how much more toned I was getting (a sign that your body is replacing fat with muscle! YAY!), and how I FEEL (though, we all have days where we just "feel" heavy… but this seems to be hormonal for most women). If you still want to weigh yourself, go ahead! But make sure you keep a few things in mind:
- Use the same scale every time (different scales can give different numbers and hence false weight loss/gain)
- Weigh yourself no more than once per week (weight will naturally fluctuate from day to day based simply on differences in water consumption, salt intake, hormones, etc.) For me, it's the same day every week just for consistency's sake.
- Weigh yourself the same time of day every time you do! (I honestly weigh 4 lbs more at night than in morning… but obviously it's not because I've "gained" 4 lbs in one day -- this is not "true" weight gain.
Remember, when it's "that time of the month", you're going to weigh more, PERIOD! (pun intended) It's just natural for our bodies to store more water when we're menstruating… again, I find that I weigh 3 - 5 lbs more when my period comes. And finally, in order to stay motivated while you work to reach your goals, you might want to take a "before" picture… and then comparing this to how you look 4 weeks from now… 8 weeks from now, etc. This will give you a clearer picture of how much progress you are making rather than trying to analyze your progress from day-to-day or through the numbers on your scale. I also suggest buying a nice pair of jeans that are slightly small on you. Maybe they fit too tight in the legs, or don't zipper the whole way… or simply are uncomfortably tight all over. The scale and mirror often don't give you the entire picture… but this pair of jeans certainly will! Use that too-small pair of jeans as a measurement of your progress: Try them on once a week, and notice the difference in how they look and feel from week to week. As long as you stick to your plan, those pants will eventually fit perfectly!!! You should also check out my full 14-week programfor even more tips and tricks to help you get those results you're looking for!
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A16: Unfortunately, it is a very common misconception that getting in shape and seeing noticeable results will happen instantly.
We are surrounded by "quick fixes", "miracle diets", and magazine workouts claiming to "sexify your butt in 8 days". But, the truth of the matter is that getting in real shape takes time! If you stick to the program and are patient with yourself, you will start to see noticeable results within just 3-4 weeks… first with strength gains (as you have already noticed), and then with weightloss and body-shaping -- this is a product of the muscle you are building right now! The results will get better and better from there as long as you continue to push yourself when you go into the gym! As such, it becomes extremely important to keep a fitness log. One of the biggest reasons why people lose motivation and give up is because they aren't seeing the full results they want to… just as you have mentioned. That's why writing down what you do every time you go into the gym is so important: it will keep you in competition with yourself by encouraging you to break previous lifting records, will ensure that you are always working as hard as possible (the key to building muscle and burning fat), and will also show you just how far you are coming! That said, in addition to being patient and continuing to push yourself every time you workout, nutrition also plays a HUGE role in how fast we see results. In fact, 90 percent of your results will come from nutrition alone! So, if you haven't already, become an FTF15 member
to get your own personalized nutrition plan! Not only will it improve your ability to work out, but great nutrition will also melt that fat away about 10 times faster than just through exercise alone!
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