Diet and exercise go hand in hand, but diets are often associated with women while exercise regimens are often geared toward men. But exercise is equally important for women, so the challenge is to find the right balance between diet and exercise to achieve weight-loss goals.
Feel the burn of strength training. Cardiovascular exercise is important, but women need to add more strength training to their routines. The National Center for Health Statistics says roughly 21 percent of women use weights two or more times a week. Adding strength-training to your workout is one of the fastest ways to see measurable weight loss. Just two sessions per week of strength-training can reduce overall body fat by around three percent in as little as 10 weeks, trimming inches off hips and waist, even without cutting calories. A study in The Journal of Strength and ConditioningResearchfound that women who completed a one-hour workout that included strength training burned an extra 100 calories in the 24 hours following a workout than they did after a workout that did not include strength training. This post-workout calorie burn is referred to as “afterburn.”
Choose the right strength-training workouts. It may be easy to find a problem area on your body and target it with certain exercises (crunches for belly fat). But, it’s better to work on several muscle groups in an exercise session rather than focusing on just one area. The following exercises can help women build lean muscle and stimulate the afterburn of a good workout.
*Pushups: Pushups can be the bane of a woman’s existence. However, pushups and stationary pushups, called plank exercises, fire up core muscles in the back and stomach. They also promote shoulder and arm strength, eliminating the need for bicep curls and other arm exercises. If pushups are difficult for you, start out on your knees and work up to doing pushups on your toes. As you build strength, it becomes easier and you’ll notice your arms have added muscle and tone.
*Lunges and squats: Lunges and squats target the largest muscles in your body, found in the legs and backside, and work the adductors and abductors of the inner and outer thighs. These exercises promote strength training in major muscle groups, and require balance by engaging core muscles in the abdomen. Your heart rate will increase when these larger muscles are used at the same time, which means you’re getting a cardiovascular workout as you strength train.
* Rowing: Instead of spending 30 minutes on the elliptical machine, use a rowing machine. In addition to the cardiovascular benefits, you’ll work your arm, back, shoulder, leg, and abdominal muscles.
By including strength-training exercises in a workout and choosing activities that work the maximum number of muscle groups at the same time, women will see a more profound weightloss in a shorter period of time.